IF Anthony Hotson had to name a favourite from the huge variety of macadamia products he creates for his native food business, Rainforest Foods, it would be the macadamia butter.
“I eat so much of it,” he laughs, “maca butter on toast; maca butter with potato mash, maca butter with chilli and coconut and garlic in satay, maca butter with miso, maca butter and wasabi, it just goes on and on.”
The Tuckombil farmer says it’s a staple in their house, especially as his partner Jules is dairy-free and it is such a healthy alternative to butter.
“(Macadamias are) high in monounsaturated fats and the ratios of different sorts of fats are perfect for us. So it’s very, very healthy, an amazing nut.”
Macadamias – native to the rainforests the Northern Rivers region – are the mainstay of Rainforest Foods, the business Anthony started more than 20 years ago after swapping his inner-city lifestyle and career in the arts for a ‘real’ job – growing food.
At the farmers market, Anthony sells a huge range of macadamia products, from sweet and savoury flavoured nuts, to macadamia oil, macadamia muesli and of course, macadamia butter, however he says the plain and simple natural macadamia nut remains his best seller.
“People always comment that they’re really fresh and they find that hard to find elsewhere, “ he said.
Anthony puts the quality of his macadamias down in part to the red soil they’re grown in: (“we have very good soil and we look after our soil,” he says), but also the processing, which all happens locally.
“That’s something we think is important. The big maca processors are sending shipping containers of nuts off to Vietnam and China to be hand-cracked then they ship them all back again.”
Along with macadamias, Anthony also makes a range of jellies, jams, marmalades and sauces from the native rainforest foods on his farm, such as finger lime, Davidson Plum, lemon aspen and riberry. He says it’s always been his mission to educate people about the value of native foods.
“They can see value instantaneously in food, and that can then connect them to other really important values like biodiversity and conservation.”
• Story and photos by Kate O’Neill