Whenever I get a mixed bag of nuts in the shell, my least favorite is the Brazil nut. But I still eat it. Why? It’s kind of a famous nut for being able to help protect the rainforest. And I want to help protect the rainforest. Eating the Brazil nut is an easy and nutritious way to do that!
See, unlike all those other regular nuts in the bag, your almonds, walnuts, etc, the Brazil nut is hard to cultivate in a crop and is mostly still harvested from wild nut stands. Cool, right?
Famous for reaching heights of over 160 feet, the Brazil nut tree towers above other trees in the Amazon rainforest. Although named after just one of the South American countries, it also grows in Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. The trees are sensitive to disturbances around them and don’t fruit well in an area that is being timbered. Since it’s a leading source of income for local communities, they do a lot to protect their Brazil nut trees which means protecting the entire forest around them.
Why is it so hard to grow them in a crop setting? Only very specific pollinators seem to like to assist Brazil nut trees, certain bees of the genera Bombus, Centris, Epicharis, Eulaema and Zylocopa must be present. These large bodied bees are largely lacking in disturbed forest areas. Because of this, although Brazil tree plantations have been attempted, very few have yielded an income producing crop.
How to Grow Brazil Nuts
Growing your own Brazil nuts will require patience. First, you need to gather some Brazil nuts, but not from your nut bowl, those have been boiled.
Obtain proper seeds from an online nursery. Soak in water for 24 hours to loosen the outer husk.
Pour out the water and rinse the seeds. Soak the seeds again and repeat the rinsing and soaking process every 8 hours until the seed sprouts. When the seeds have sprouted, fill a container, such as a clear glass jar, 2/3 full with nutrient rich potting soil. Make a hole in the center of the soil and push the seed in.
Cover it with dirt, allowing the sprouted end to poke up through the soil. Moisten the soil and keep it moist. Cover the container with gauze or cheesecloth and secure it tightly with a rubber band. Put the container in a warm area with indirect sunlight and check it for growth and dryness.
When the seedling is 6-12 inches tall, plant it in an area with full sun, well-draining soil and high humidity with warm tropical temperatures.
And then wait 10-15 years for the tree to mature. Find some large bodied Amazonia bees to pollinate the flowers and cross your fingers and hope that 18 months later you have harvestable nuts. Good luck!
Or you can just buy some to enjoy right here and now.
Recipe ideas coming soon!