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Jul 15th, 2006 - 20:07:50 


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Voices of Spencer Creek

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Those Husky Macadamia Nuts

Nuts about Macadamia nuts: " The nuts are available roasted, chocolate covered with caramel or honey, as condiments for ice cream, cookies, cakes and other pastries, or flavoring for coffee, liqueur or essences."

By Lois Barton

Posted on Jun 10, 2006

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Several years ago I learned that my friend Claire owned a macadamia nut orchard in Hawaii. She spent part of each year there away from her home near Portland, Oregon. I had discovered how delicious these nuts are, but seldom indulged my taste for them because of their price. I have often envied Claire her first-hand access to these edibles while in Hawaii.

In May this year I had a chance to visit the Big Island whose name actually is Hawaii. Near the top of my list of hoped-for-adventures was a chance to learn about macadamia cultivation and to sample macadamia nut pie. That delicious dessert came with a dinner in what claims to be the southernmost restaurant in the United States named Hana Hou.

A notable highlight of my recent two week stay in Hawaii was a visit to a macadamia nut processing plant. It was situated in the midst of a large nut orchard. Most of my 88 years have been involved in some aspect of agriculture in Ohio, Florida and Oregon, so my curiosity about growing those nuts was based on considerable understanding about agricultural procedures.

We have hazelnuts (filberts), and English and black walnuts at our Oregon home. They all grow on trees and have a husk over the growing nut. I now know macadamias do, too. The husk opens as the nuts ripen and they fall to the ground for harvest just as hazelnuts do.

At the processing plant we were told the nut shells are very hard. The old-timers used to put a board over the nuts and drive the car over the board to crack them. There is a roller in the factory which applies 300 pounds of pressure to crack nuts these days. A hand-held cracker is being manufactured for home use.

One day we stopped at a roadside coffee stand and our car was parked under a macadamia tree at the edge of a fenced orchard. I noticed when I got out of the car that there were nuts lying on the ground outside of the fence. I gathered three that were out of their husks and two still partly inside dried husks. I brought them home to Oregon to see if I could crack them with a hammer.

Sure enough, the hammer did the job and those particular nuts were still edible even though they'd probably been on the ground since harvest time last fall.

An agricultural flyer in our rental home in Hawaii had the following information about macadamias: "Macadamia nuts were introduced in Hawaii (from Australia) in the early 1870s and have been in commercial production since 1948. They are grown extensively in all districts of the Big Island. The nuts are available roasted, chocolate covered with caramel or honey, as condiments for ice cream, cookies, cakes and other pastries, or flavoring for coffee, liqueur or essences. Three companies offer tours of their factories."

The nuts have become a major crop in Hawaiian agriculture and, with coffee, largely replaced pineapple and sugar cane since the 1990s. More recently macadamias have been introduced in southern California. The trees are sensitive to damage from frost, particularly the younger ones.

Many other memorable happenings enriched my recent Hawaiian vacation but I especially treasure the macadamia exposure.

Copyright © 2006 by Lois Barton

Look for more stories about Hawaii coming to The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte soon!

Writer and historian
Lois Barton

Lois Barton is an 88 year old mother of eight children. She has lived on the same rural acreage just south of Eugene, Oregon for more than 50 years. All their children learned to milk, to keep the woodboxes filled, to do their share of household and garden chores. Her first book, Spencer Butte Pioneers, was published in 1982 when her youngest started to school. Since then she wrote five other books: Daughter of the Soil, now out of print; One Woman's West; A Quaker Promise Kept; and Through My Window, autobiographical sketches, sequel to Daughter Of the Soil.

Through the years Lois has been a 4H leader, president of the neighborhood association, a precinct committee woman, election board clerk, editor of the Lane County Historian, and a life-long Quaker. She spent a month in Southeast Asia in 1974 as a member of a church peace mission, after working for ten years as director of the Eugene Chapter of the World Without War Council.

Follow the links of the Voices of Spencer Creek for the most recent articles by Lois Barton, including:

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Fender's Blue, a Nine Day Wonder

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Frannie and the Arrow

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Bhavia's Cambodia

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of the Smoking Chimney

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Saga of Big Oak Stables

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Fishy Story

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Different Peace

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Hal and the Mountain

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: A Rogue River Adventure

Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Obituary for a Country Cat

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Cortesia Sanctuary

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Tree and Me and Lady Slippers

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Cranberries

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Endurance Riding

The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: Butterflies and Community Development

and The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte: The Last Gift.

See more of Lois Barton's articles in West By online magazine's archives:

Visit the Heron Rookery

Sauerkraut and All That

Charlotte's Overdose - Just who is Charlotte and what did she take?

The Midwife–The midnight call awoke an unusual midwife.

The Mystery of Fox Hollow - Fact and fiction meet in this story of the origins of Faith Rock.

Trees, Tame Trees and Squirrel.

© Copyright 2000-2004 by West By

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