Before Hawaii, macadamia nuts always came out of little cylindrical cans from Mauna Loa. The cans were aqua, the nuts were big, and they were soft on the crunch as mac nuts should be. Also? They were fabulously greasy.
I never thought about how the addicting nut came from a dark and leafy sweep of mac nut trees, I didn’t consider the harder-than-hard shells, and I certainly didn’t wonder how the nut got from those shells into my happy mouth. However, as soon as we stumbled upon a Cryovac bag of very special mac nuts at a tiny Whole Foods-ish natural foods store on Hilo’s boardwalk, that all changed.
Unlike the familiar Mauna Loa’s, the Hui Mac macadamia nuts weren’t so covered in salt that you found yourself empathizing with Lot’s wife. However, even without all that salt, the Hui Macs still had that same distinctive mac nut flavor that you know and love. They still give that very slight resistance before falling away into velvety halves when your molars apply pressure. Additionally, unlike the Mauna Loa brand, Hui Macs aren’t covered in a mysterious and somewhat worrying powder that brings to mind Tom Daschle’s Capitol building office in 2001.
What makes them so different is that Hui Mac macadamia nuts go through a unique and patented process when their are cracked.
Conventional crackers crush the nut between rollers or blades. This typically requires drying the nuts down to 1.5% moisture content before cracking to reduce cracker damage to the kernel. The drying process can take several weeks in large forced hot air dryers.
Insights patented technology exploits the resonant frequency of the shell. We can crack at moisture contents of 10% to 20% which preserves the natural flavor and does not require expensive pre-crack
Did you read that? Hui Mac nuts are cracked with SONIC WAVES! How awesome is that? Now, you might well ask, “Why in the world would I care about that?” Well, aside from the coolness factor, there’s this:
Less damage to kernel: High moisture content kernel is much less susceptible to mechanical damage from shell separation and material handling equipment than dry kernel. This leads to fewer chips and increased recovery.
Significantly reduced drying costs: Drying kernel takes much less equipment and energy than drying wet-in-shell. For example, it typically takes 14 days to dry WIS prior to cracking. Drying high moisture content kernel only takes about 4 days.
Improved product quality: Cracking at high moisture content removes the kernel from the shell while still fresh. Coupling this with low temperature kernel drying preserves the nutrients and great natural flavor of the macadamia. Drying in shell drives the tannins from the shell into the kernel resulting in a “woody” flavor.
Hui Mac calls this patented process “Starcracker.” It’s an interesting name isn’t it? All sorts of connotations can be conjured up, like that January 2000 Cameron Diaz cover of Vanity Fair, for instance. She’s sitting on a beach and clearly showing her starcracker.
And now — if I haven’t put you completely off the nut — you, too can enjoy the deliciousness of a sonic wave-cracked macadamia nut. Check ‘em out!
P.O. Box 11421
Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink