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Top Pick Of The Week

April 17, 2007

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Macadamia OilIf you love food discoveries, you’ll love Brookfarm’s top quality macadamia oil in Natural, Lemon Myrtle and Lime & Chilli. The company also makes a kicking Macadamia Muesli in three flavors, plus three flavors of roasted nuts.
WHAT IT IS: Top-quality macadamia nut oil, muesli and snack nuts from Australia.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The oils are exciting for condiments, cooking or just bread-dipping. The cereals and snack nuts are top quality.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Macadamia oil is a refreshing change from olive oil; infused flavors like Lemon Myrtle and Kashmiri Chilli give new life to any food they touch.
WHERE TO BUY IT: RanchMarketsNapaValley.com.
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Australia’s Brookfarm:
Mac-nificent

Take a break from mastering the many styles of olive oil and focus on an absolutely delicious nut oil, from the macadamia. While many people steer clear of the tempting, velvety macadamia nut because eating handfuls of it can really rack up the calories, all culinary oils have the same 120 calories per tablespoon. The high percentage of monounsaturated fat in the macadamia nut produces a heart-healthy oil like olive oil, but creamy and delicious in its own unique way. Unlike with olive oil, you don’t have to guess if your bottle is going to be earthy, fruity, grassy, herbal, peppery or just delicate and mild.

There are levels of quality, however. Brookfarm, a premier grower of macadamia nuts in New South Wales, has won Australian and British awards for its oils, roasted nuts and macadamia-studded mueslis, all of which are delicious in their natural and flavored forms. All three oils (but especially the snazzy Lemon Myrtle and Lime & Chilli) are must-haves. They were standouts at the winter Fancy Food Show, but the entire line is top-drawer (or the equivalent Aussie expression).

Now, you can put a shrimp on the barbie and baste it with macadamia oil...or toss your salad with it...or bake with it...or dip your bread in it. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a macadamia will be glad to have a set of these products. Read the full review below.*

*If your e-mail client (e.g. AOL) does not support anchor links, please scroll down.

  • Read reviews of more of our favorite oils in THE NIBBLE online magazine.
  • See the Table of Contents of the April issue of THE NIBBLE online magazine, plus the back issues archive and our most popular articles.
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Learn More About Gourmet Oils

Michael Chiarello's Flavored Oils and Vinegars Oil & Vinegar Flavored Oils
Michael Chiarello’s Flavored Oils & Vinegars: 100 Recipes for Cooking With Infused Oils & Vinegars, by Michael Chiarello. The Food Network chef shares 100 creative recipes for both making and using flavored oils and vinegars that capture the essence of herbs, fruits, vegetables and spices. Sure to dazzle any dish. Click here for more information or to purchase. Oil & Vinegar, by Annette Heisch. This comprehensive guide to oils and vinegars starts at the beginning, with their origins and levels of quality, and how to shop for and store oils and vinegars. Along with many innovative recipes, Heisch shares the art of creating one’s own gourmet vinegars and oils. Click here for more information or to purchase. Flavored Oils: 50 Recipes For Cooking With Infused Oils, by Michael Chiarello with Penelope Wisner. The owner/chef of Napa Valley’s Tra Vigne restaurant shares his wisdom for jazzing up ordinary dishes with flavored oils. His detailed advice on judicious use of them includes instructions for infusions that are easy-to-follow. Click here for more information or to purchase.

 

Brookfarm: Mac-Nificent

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

The macadamia is the only major commercial food crop that is native to Australia. While the British arrived to colonize the vast continent in 1788 (Australia’s land mass is 2/3 the size of the continental U.S.), it wasn’t until 1857 that the West discovered the macadamia tree, called “kindal kindal” by the Aboriginals. Baron Ferdinand Von Muller, Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and Walter Hill, Director of the Botany Garden at Brisbane, were exploring in the forest along the Pine River in the Moreton Bay district of Queensland. They discovered a species of flowering tree in the family Proteaceae that did not fit into any previously established genera in that family known to European and American botanists. So in 1858, Muller established a new genus, Macadamia, naming it in honor of John Macadam, M.D., Secretary of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria. Macadam died shipboard en route to taste the nut named for him.*
*History from http://www.macnut.co.nz/history.htm and About.com.

Macadamia Grove
One of Brookfarm’s macadamia groves. Photo © Sean
Watson 2006.

The macadamia is a native Australian rainforest tree that loves the rich, volcanic soils, sub-tropical climate and high annual rainfall. The fruit it produces is “a hard nut to crack,” much like black walnuts. Due to the labor involved in shelling the nuts and the tropical environment required to grow them, macadamias were traditionally more expensive than other nuts. Prices have dropped dramatically in the past twenty years due to new strains with softer shells and expanded production.

One hundred fifty years after its discovery, the tree grows commercially in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Israel, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa (which hosts the largest single planting of macadamia trees, 3,700 acres in Komatipoort) and many other tropical and subtropical regions, including Florida.

Brookfarm (the owners are Martin and Pam Brook) is Australia’s most award-winning producer of gourmet macadamia products. The farm practices sustainable agriculture, creating a balance between the macadamia orchard and substantial areas of rainforest and eucalyptus forests.

To the untrained eye macadamia nuts look like limes. In fact, we initially thought that the photos of “limes growing on trees” were the limes Brookfarm uses in its Lime & Chilli Macadamia Oil. But, as you’ll see in the photo at the right, when you peel back what looks like citrus skin (the macadamia is not in the same plant family as citrus), you find not fruit, but brown nuts. The kernel of these brown nuts is the ivory-white treat we call the macadamia nut.

Macadamia Nuts In The Shell
Fresh from the tree—they look like limes but they’re macadamia nuts. The white nut is inside the hard brown shell. Photo © Frank Petsch.

Macadamia Oils

Brookfarm produces three premium-grade oils cold-pressed from choice Australian macadamia nuts. The operative word is “high”: The oil is highly nutritious with the highest level of heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat of any edible oil, including the highly desirable Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The high level of antioxidants slows rancidity and allows the oil to be kept for up to two years without refrigeration. Brookfarm macadamia oil has a high smoke point, 450ºF, and retains its unique flavors when used for high-temperature cooking.

The natural macadamia oil is a lovely oil, but the true palate excitement is in the infused oils. They do all of the seasoning for you, and manage to taste as if the fruits, spices and herbs were just crushed prior to serving.

  • Lemon Myrtle Macadamia Oil. America needs more lemon myrtle: if you like citrus, race for a bottle of this oil. An evergreen indigenous to Australia, the leaves of the tree smell like lemon and taste like a wondrous combination of lemon and lime, without their acidic properties. In addition to infusing oils, lemon myrtle is a popular flavoring in pasta and tea, and as a lemon replacement in milk-based foods, such as cheesecake and ice cream, that might curdle from the citric acid in lemon.

    Brookfarm’s Lemon Myrtle Macadamia Oil was a Gold Medal Winner at the U.K. Great Taste Awards in 2004, an event organized by the British Guild of Fine Food Retailers (analogous to our Fancy Food Show). The oil is terrific with anything, but the lemon myrtle is particularly magical with seafood. See more uses below.
 

Flavored Macadamia Oils
A trio of terrific macadamia oils—Lime & Chili, Lemon Myrtle and Natural—bring new life to anything they anoint.

 
Lemon myrtle, like the macadamia nut, is a “bushfood” or “bush tucker”—terms that refer to foods of Australia’s native inhabitants, the Aborigines. For marketing purposes, the domestic food industry refers to gourmet bush tucker as “authentic Australian foods.” Other examples include emu, kangaroo and the bush tomato, which you’ll read about shortly.
  • Lime & Chilli Macadamia Oil. A burst of fresh lime fragrance leaps from the bottle as soon as you take the cap off, and remains a fresh flavor throughout your experience with this wonderful oil. The chilli is gentle—just a light tingle. You’d think the combination of the two would create a Southeast Asian-style flavor accent, but the result is very modern and contemporary. It’s an addictive bread dipper, especially with beer. Frankly, we don’t know why the other two oils won Great Taste Awards while this one was overlooked: We demand a recount!
    †The spelling of chile in the U.K. and its former colonies and trading partners.
  • Natural Macadamia Oil. The sweet aroma and creamy, mild flavor makes this a nice salad and condiment oil for those who don’t prefer the extra razzle-dazzle of the infused oils. It’s also great for sautéing, frying, stir-fries and baking. A Bronze Medal Winner at the 2004 U.K. Great Taste Awards.

Use Them All For: bread dippers, mayonnaise, marinades, pestos and salad dressings. Cook eggs in them. Drizzle as anointing oils over hot or cold fish, chicken, lamb, and pasta, rice and vegetable dishes.

There are recipes on the website for each of the oils and some included below.

 

How About Some Vinegar To Go With That Oil?
Most people of European descent think that vinegar must be made from grapes (vin aigre = “sour wine”). But it can be made from the fermented juices of virtually any plant material, including other fruits, rice and grain and fruit. Read our article, Vinegar 101.

 

Recipes

You may have had pine nut pesto, maybe even a walnut pesto. Try a macadamia cilantro pesto, this one devised by Sally James, an Australian author, educator, chef and television personality. Sally also created the Macadamia, Ginger & Truffle Spread below it.

Pasta With Pesto
Macadamia Pesto.
 

Macadamia Cilantro Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces oven roasted macadamias
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
    (substitute basil if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/3 cup macadamia oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or more
    to taste)

Instructions

  1. Place the macadamias, cilantro and parmesan in a blender and process until coarsely chopped, scraping down sides.
  2. With motor running, add enough of the oil to reach desired consistency. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Serve spread on bread, on pasta or rice, or with fish or chicken.

Macadamia, Ginger & Truffle Spread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 2/3 cup natural macadamia oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice (or crystallized ginger)
  • A few drops of white truffle oil

Instructions

  1. Place the nuts in a blender and process to a paste with the oil, honey and ginger juice.
  2. Add truffle oil and adjust amount to taste. Some people prefer more of a ginger flavor, others more of a truffle flavor, others a honey flavor.

Muesli

Muesli, the German word for “mixture,” is a breakfast cereal of Swiss origin, made of uncooked grains, nuts, and dried fruits. The product was developed in the late 1890s as a health food for his Zürich sanatorium patients by Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a physician and a pioneer in nutritional research; it was called originally Birchermüesli, a name under which it can still be found by some manufacturers. His recipe was different from what is called muesli today: Rolled oats, fresh-grated apples and ground almonds or hazelnuts were made into a type of mush. Muesli in its modern form became popular in western countries in the 1960s as part of increased interest in healthy vegetarian diets. It is usually eaten with milk, yogurt or fruit juice, and is different from granola†.

†Granola and Granula were trademarked products in the late 19th century U.S.: They were whole grain products crumbled and baked until crispy The food and name were revived in the 1960s, and fruits and nuts were added to make it a health food popular with the hippie movement. Today’s granolas often include brown sugar.

Brookfarm’s mueslis are the most elegant toppings our yogurts have seen in some time: A delicious blend of 18 different grains, brans, cranberries and macadamias is gently baked with Australian bush honey.

  • Natural Macadamia Muesli is a “Swiss style” blend of rolled oats, barley flakes, rice bran, barley bran, oat bran, macadamias, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, currants, sultanas, spices and other delicious ingredients.
  • Toasted Muesli, essentially Natural with the oats and other grains softly toasted, can multitask as a breakfast cereal, dessert topping or anytime snack.
  • Gluten Free Muesli, winner of a Silver medal at the UK Good Taste Awards 2005, is very different from the other two. Although the fruits and macadamia nuts are the same, the base of buckwheat, rice bran, puffed brown rice, puffed buckwheat and amaranth provide a festive, soft popcorn-like crunch from the caramelized puffed brown rice and buckwheat. Very quietly sweetened with honey, it’s a treat.
 

Brookfarm Muesli
Macadamia muesli is mac-nificent, even without the fresh raspberries.

We have been enjoying all of them every day for breakfast: with milk, with yogurt, even in the classic “soaked” form which approximates Dr. Bircher-Benner’s concept of mush. Give a set to your favorite breakfast cereal-lover.

You can find Dr. Bircher-Benner’s original muesli “mush” recipe online, but if you’d like to adapt the concept to modern tastes by adding some yogurt, combine:

  • 3 cups muesli (you can mix flavors if you like)
  • 1-1⁄2 cups yogurt
  • 1⁄4 cup apple or orange juice
  • 1 grated Granny Smith apple
  • Let all ingredients stand together in a bowl at least one hour prior to consuming. The muesli should be moist but not runny.

Roasted Macadamia Nuts

For those who have indulged on Mauna Loa and want to experience a better macadamia nut, Brookfarm has created one. The “secret” is premium nut halves that are oven-roasting slowly, using their own macadamia oil (commercial nuts use quick cooking and cheaper oils) and low-sodium sea salt from the waters of the Great Australian Bight, a large open bay (bight) located off the southern coastline of Australia. The process brings out the sweet flavor of the macadamias and actually produces a less oily nut. They can be purchased plain in the version called Natural With Sea Salt, but we find the two flavored varieties much more interesting:

  • Bush Pepper Spice With Sea Salt. These nuts are lightly flecked and flavored with black mountain pepper from Tasmania, along with the subtle flavors of lemon myrtle from the Byron hinterland and bush tomato. The bush tomato, Solanum centrale, is of the same genus as the western tomato, Solanum lycopersicum. It’s a cherry tomato-sized fruit that grows wild in the Central Australian desert on a short, flowering shrub. It’s picked by the Aboriginal tribes and is eaten fresh, dried or cooked. If not picked, it dries on the plant to resemble a raisin, known as the bush raisin.
  • Kashmiri Chilli & Sea Salt. The Kashmiri chilli is famed for its fine red coloring properties as well as its delicious flavor: Indian foods that are colored red have been colored with this chilli. Here, the chilli adds orange dappling to the nuts and a mild chilli heat that builds nicely.
 

Macadamia Nuts With Bush Pepper Spice
Bush Pepper Spice With Sea Salt: The macs are available in boxes or in smaller Snacmacs pouches.

The only problem with both of these flavors is that they are so tempting, the nuts quickly disappear. If you read the nutrition label on the back, you’ll realize that you get no more food for the rest of the day—but you’ve had a heart-healthy snack. Which leads us to:

The Benefits of Macadamia Oil

Macadamia nuts have always been beloved for their texture and flavor, but how about health?

Australian macadamia oil is widely regarded as the healthiest edible oil in the world. It is higher in monunsaturates (83%), the goods fats that are important in lowering blood cholesterol, than extra virgin olive oil. It also has the most balanced ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids of any oil. The oil is trans fat-free; as a plant oil, it is cholesterol free; it is a non-GMO food (not genetically modified).

  • Macadamias contain significant levels of protein; they contain all the essential amino acids, with most present at optimum levels, as well as non-essential amino acids.
  • Macadamias contain a range of antioxidants including Vitamin E as tocopherols and tocotrienol, epicatechin (which is the principal antioxidant in tea), the amino acids methionine and cysteine and selenium. Other antioxidants have been detected in lesser amounts.
  • Macadamias also contain phytosterols (plant sterols) which are believed to lower total serum cholesterol and the undesirable low density cholesterol. Macadamias contain a range of sterols constituents of which sitosterol is the most significant. Research from Australia’s Newcastle University has shown that a balanced diet supplemented daily with macadamias can help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

In terms of snacking, how fattening are they? Tree nuts are a daily recommendation of the Mediterranean Food Pyramid, but as with all foods—and especially tasty little nuts of any kind that have a habit of disappearing by the handful—it’s about portion control. Macadamias have a particularly high fat content. A half-cup serving of nuts has 481 calories, 4 grams net carbs and 51g total fat. On the other hand, if you need justification to enjoy yourself, macadamias contain a higher percentage of monounsaturated oils than any other product.

 

How Much Do You Know About Culinary Oils?
There are 50 terms in our Culinary Oils Glossary. See if you have anything to add.

 

Try Brookfarm’s infused macadamia oils, flavored roasted macadamias and macadamia mueslis and you won’t think of the macadamia the same way again. Whether “bush tucker” or “authentic Australian foods,” they’re part of a trickle of great gourmet products from down under that we hope will turn into a steady stream.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves delicious new foods.

BROOKFARM MACADAMIA PRODUCTS

MACADAMIA OILS in Lime & Chilli, Lemon Myrtle & Natural
MUESLI in Gluten Free Toasted, Natural Macadamia and Toasted Macadamia
ROASTED MACAAMIAS in Bush Pepper Spice & Sea Salt, Kashmiri Chilli & Sea Salt, and Sea Salt

  • Macadamia Oils
    8.5-Ounce Bottle
    $11.35
  • Mueslis
    7.6 Ounces
    $9.85
  • Oven-Roasted Macadamias
    3.6-Ounce Box
    $7.75

Buy online at RanchMarketsNapaValley.com.

Also available at select specialty food stores, e.g. Bristol Farms and Gelson’s in CA; Fox & Obel in Chicago; Citarella, Dean and DeLuca and Zabar’s in New York City; Siegel’s and Speck’s in Texas. See the website for a store locator.

Shipping additional. Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

Macadamia Nut Products
The Brookfarm family of muesli, roasted nuts and
macadamia oil.

For more information visit
Brookfarm.com.au

 

 

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Read more about our favorite
oils and related products in
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Check Out These Other Top Pick Of The Week” Infused Oils & Nut Oils:

 

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