The Brazil Nut is a little known nut from Central America. It has been gaining popularity.
Here you will learn everything you need to know about this exotic nut.
What is the Brazil Nut?
Brazil nuts come from tropical trees that grow in South America, including Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
The trees reach a majestic height of up to 50 meters and live up to 1000 years. They are one of the oldest Amazon forest trees.
The nuts are nestled in a round brown pod, the size, and shape of a coconut, weighing around two kilograms.
The pods encasing the nuts are extremely tough and can only be opened using a sharp machete or by the chisel-like teeth of the industrious tropical rodent agouti.
The agouti are essential for Brazil nut trees' survival as they bury the nuts and thus help plant a new generation of trees.
Brazil nut harvest involves collecting fallen pods from the Amazon forest floor and opening them with a machete is an adventure and can be a dangerous enterprise.
The nut collectors, or castaneros, move deep into the forest during the harvest time and build camps where they stay for the harvest duration.
The collected nuts are filled into big bags and transported out of the forest by boats via river.
The falling Brazil nut pods turn into a missile hurling down from the lofty tree canopies at fifty miles per hour and can easily crack open a human skull.
Scientists studying Brazil nut trees have observed limping and dented animals scurrying around under Brazil nut trees, which were apparent survivors of fallen nut pods.
Are they good for the enviroment?
There are a few Brazil nut plantations, but most Brazil nuts are harvested from trees grown in the wild.
Brazil nut cultivation is an excellent example of sustainable rain forest agriculture.
The rain forest is preserved and protected as the trees only thrive in an established rain forest ecosystem, which is difficult, if not impossible, to recreate in an artificial plantation setting.
Thus, Brazil nut farmers are also at the same time great rain forest conservationists.
The main reason why Brazil nut trees resist cultivation is that they allow themselves to be pollinated only by large long-tongued orchid bees (kind of like the vanilla).
Those bees are strong enough to prod open the rigid flowers of the Brazil nut tree.
After pollination, it may take up to twelve months for the nuts to mature.
Where to buy Brazil Nuts?
You can buy Brazil nuts in most grocery stores, such as Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's.
If you prefer online shopping, Amazon, Thrive Market, and Fresh Direct are great options.
Since Brazil nuts grow naturally, largely no pesticides and insecticides are used during the growth process unless the tree grows on a plantation, which is rare.
However, unless organically certified, the nuts may be treated chemically after harvest to avoid spoilage.
The nuts come in 250g to 500g (8-16 oz) sealed plastic pouches and cost around $15-20 for 500g.
The cost will be higher for organic nuts.
How to use the nut?
The nuts are delicious and have a smooth, creamy texture and an earthy nutty taste.
They make an excellent snack on their own, roasted or raw.
They also make a wonderful addition to salads, pasta, mueslis, smoothies, and baked goods.
You can use Brazil nuts whenever a recipe calls for nuts.
Try a Brazil nut basil pesto or crumble some Brazil nut on top of your Pad Thai for delicious and nutritious creaminess.
Like other nuts, Brazil nuts can be used to make nut milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese.
Here are some recipe ideas:
- Brazil nut butter
- Brazil nut kale pesto
- Brazil nut chocolate cookies
- Brazil nut milk
- Brazil nut parmesan
- Brazil nut crusted chicken or fish
- Brazil nut snowball cookies
- Brazil nut burger
- Mushroom quinoa with Brazil nuts
- Roasted beet salad with feta and Brazil nuts
- Oatmeal with stewed buried and Brazil nuts
Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts have been eaten by the local population as far as 10,000 years ago.
Portuguese and Spanish explorers first encountered this nut in the 16th century.
This special nut is packed full of nutrition and is high in protein, fiber, and an excellent selenium source.
There is evidence that Brazil nuts are beneficial to heart health, controlling blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol levels.
This nutritious nut is a perfect post-workout snack to replenish your mineral levels and provide a good dose of protein.
Because of its dense nutrition, 1-2 nuts per day are enough, and daily consumption should not exceed 5 nuts per day to prevent selenium poisoning.
Brazil nuts have a high-fat content, and to prevent them from going rancid, it is essential to store the nuts in air-tight containers in a dark and cool place.
In tropical countries, it would be best to keep the nuts in a tightly sealed container in the fridge where they can last several months.
You can also freeze the nuts to keep them fresh for up to 9 months.
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