What's Happening Wednesday- Exotic Oils Cont.- Macadamia Nut Oil

Have you ever broken your nut crackers? Well, you might have, if you'd ever tried to open a macadamia nut with them! But nut crackers won't work on this hard nut, in fact, if you dont have acces to a commercialo grade macadiam huller, you pretty much need a hammer! It's all this work that causes this nut and its byproducts to be costly.  

I bet, when anyone says macadamia nut, you probably automatically think of Hawaii. But you may be surprised to know that, this nut was first domesticated in 1858, in Australia. In fact, it is the only native Australian plant ever developed as a commercial food crop. The first commercial macadamia nuts orchard was established (in Australia) about 1888.

Botanically named Macadamia integrifolia, the macadamia tree is a long lived tree. Under favorable growing conditions, the tree can begin to produce after six or seven years of growth. It is a long lived tree, and may have a productive life of sixty years or more. In full production, well grown, mature trees produce from sixty to one hundred fifty pounds, or more, shell buts per year. The macadamia tree can reach heights of sixty feet, and obtain a spread of some forty feet. The leaves are glossy, dark green, and closely resemble holly leaves. It also produces a pink, or creamy white flower. The fruit consists of a fleshy husk, which encloses a spherical seed that is one-half to one and one-quarter inches in diameter,  with a very hard, durable shell. In fact, the shell is next to impossible to crack, and it is inside of this super hard shell that the macadamia nut can be found. 

Before the nineteenth century, the macadamia nut was known only to the aboriginal tribes who gathered them each autumn, but in all probability, did not cultivate the trees. Hawaii was not introduced to the macadamia nut until 1882, when William Herbert Purvis obtained seeds from Queensland,  and  planted several seedling trees on the island of Hawaii. Throughout the years, many more commercial farms were planted in Hawaii, resulting in thousands of acres of trees. In fact,  Hawaii is the largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world, with Australia being the second-largest. While they currently only have about 7,000 acres of producing trees, each year Australians plant about 1,000 more acres, steadily increasing their crop potential. The Republic of South Africa (with approx. 6,000 acres), Kenya (with approx. 4,000 acres), Guatemala (with about 2,000 acres), and Brazil (with about 1,800 acres), also produce macadamia nuts for commercial trade/consumption. The macadamia nut tree thrives best in mild, frost-free, subtropical climates, in areas without shade, that get at least fifty inches of well-distributed rainfall annually, and have good drainage, and adequate protection from strong winds. While some other countries have made experimental plantings, California is the only state in the continental United States that has been successful in growing macadamia on a scale approaching commercial. However, to date, there are no large scale, commercial orchards in California. 

Macadamia nut oil is expeller pressed from the meat of the macadamia nut, and is an unrefined oil. It has a deep amber color, and has 
a nutty odor, with sweet undertones. However, when buying it in the grocery store, you may not get the best quality oil, as quality can vary quite a bit.
Macadamia Oil is Very rich in essential fatty acids, which is why it has become such a well sought after cooking oil. It is 
made up of about 80% oleic acid, which is 
monounsaturated fats, at the same time, it has very low amounts of polyunsaturated fats.  
Studies have proven that monounsaturated fats are good for the heart and lower the bad cholesterol [LDL] in the blood, while maintaining the good cholesterol [HDL]  cholesterol. Additionally, the essential fatty acids, which are precursors of prostaglandins [hormone like substances] control blood pressure, pain, and the inflammatory process, as well as aide in the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles. The Linoleic acid present is responsible for burning the brown fat in the body for heat, rather than storing it as white fat. So macadamia nut oil also aids in weight  maintenance and weight loss. Some of the other health benefits attributed to this oil are; it promotes a healthy heart, reduces hypertension, reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases and cancers, acts as a blood thinner, improves depression, fights the free radicals in the body, preserves cell membrane integrity, and prevents the formation of clots.  One of the oddest, if not best property of this oil, is that it has no allergens and can be used by people who are allergic to nuts and nut oils! In all of my studies, I dont think I have ever come across this before! 

Aside from all of the healthful benefits gained through consuming this oil, macadamia nut oil has become prized, and is quite a priceless delight, for the skin and the benefits it imparts through cosmetic applications. In fact, some would argue that it has proven itself to be one of the best regenerative oils available. Macadamia nut oil closely resembles sebum, the oil that our body makes to protect the scalp and the skin. Because of this likeness to sebum, it is a fabulous, protective oil, one that is quickly and easily absorbed by the skin. It has been successfully used as a healing oil for scars, sunburns, minor wounds and other irritations. It also makes an ideal enriching and replenishing agent for the skin, as well as the scalp. Because of its high palmitoleic acid content, it is ideal for use in cosmetics, and all of its properties make it quite valuable in 
moisturizers, sun screen creams, hair products and more.  In soap it is best used at one ounce per pound of oils, but even this small amount will make a difference! 

Although macadamia nut oil certainly makes a great emollient, many cosmetic makers will be surprised to know that it is also a great fragrance fixative. The only problem with this oil is that it can be pretty expensive, in fact, the nut itself is one of the most expensive nuts on the market today. However, because  it has a shelf life of 10 months to 2 years, [which is dependent upon whether or not it is cold pressed or refined and how it is stored]  you can easily purchase a large quantity, which tends to drop the price, making  it a more affordable choice. You will need to store the oil some place dark, as it is sensitive to light and needs stored accordingly, but it does not need refrigeration, so this is a small concession to make for having a great oil! 

No comments: