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Definition: macadamia from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(măk´´Әdā'mēӘ), name for the nut of the Macadamia ternifolia, an evergreen tree native to Australia, but cultivated elsewhere, including Hawaii and South Africa. The small, edible kernel of the nut, also called Queensland nut, is white and crisp, and is eaten roasted or raw, by itself or as an ingredient in other foods. The macadamia tree is classified in the phylum Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Proteales, family Proteaceae.

Summary Article: Macadamias
From The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

Native to Australia, the macadamia tree is now cultivated in other countries including Hawaii and South Africa—a rare example of a native Australian plant becoming a worldwide commercial food crop. Inside its thick, hard shell, the nut has a waxy texture and a buttery, sweet taste.


Instead of being picked from the tree, macadamia nuts are harvested when they ripen fully in late spring and summer and naturally fall to the ground. Because of their extremely hard shells, the nuts are usually sold already shelled and whole, either raw or roasted. Look for light-colored nuts without blemish or discoloration.


If still in their shells, macadamia nuts can be kept in a cool, dark place for several months. Shelled macadamia nuts should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and consumed as soon as possible after purchase. For longer storage, keep them in an airtight plastic container in the fridge for up to 6 months, or the freezer for up to a year.


Enjoy roasted and salted or spiced macadamia nuts as a snack with drinks. Use unsalted nuts in cookies, cakes, pastries, confectionery, and ice cream, as well as in salads, stuffings for poultry, and other savory dishes.

Flavor pairings

Chicken, bananas, toffee, coconut, chocolate, maple syrup.

Classic recipes

Macadamia-crusted chicken; Hawaiian macadamia nut pie.

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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