Monday, September 24, 2007

It will be macadamia nut season soon!

Come late October and through to the end of January, it is harvest time for the Cate variety of macadamia nuts. Macadamias are particularly well suited to our mild San Diego climate. The trees originated on the eastern coast of Australia and later were imported to Hawaii. The first report of macadamias in Southern California was around the turn of the last century. In fact, one of the originals still graces the front lawn of the Hotel del Coronado. The nuts grow in clusters, like grapes. When the Cale variety are ready to harvest, the husks split and fall to the ground with the nuts. Other varieties need to picked directly from the trees year round.

You can purchase local shelled macadamia nuts grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers from George McManigle at Here’s what he told me about his Escondido farm:

“We have over 100 macadamia trees in our grove along with honey, avocados, cherimoyas, guavas, lemons, meyer lemons, grapefruit, passion fruit and a few others. We do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides on our trees. We do use chicken and mushroom compost from time to time, but that's it. I guess we are, as some call it, ‘growing naturally,’ but the certification is quite pricy to go to that step.”

Another option is to purchase from Gold Crown Macadamia Association (of which George is a member), although they make no claims to be pesticide or chemical fertilizer-free. The co-op has over 1,900 members located between the Mexican border and Santa Barbara. The co-op sells about 100,000 pounds of in-shell macadamia nuts a year. Be sure you have a nut cracker handy!

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