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Pandanus utilis is the genus

There are 650 kinds of Pandanus or Screw Pine in the tropics.  They are much used by natives.  The leaves are used for all kinds of woven things.   The nuts are a good food item.


The pandanus trees are found both on the seashores and on higher elevations in the remote parts of the world.   These tropical places all rely on the tree for food, shelter, fibers with which to weave, clothing, sails for their boats, paper to write on, pouches to carry things, floral decorations, medical remedies, and magical uses at their various ceremonies.

The fruit is spherical and has a mass of seeds packed into the shell.  The fruit resembles a pineapple or a fir cone and its size varies from 1" to 18" or more.

The biggest fruits are found in New Guinea.  The natives call them MONGO.    The Mongo is almost 2 feet long and 18 inches in diameter and weighs 40 to 60 pounds.  Paupauns eat them.  White people extract the oil and use it for cooking, medicine, lubrication, and as a paint.   The nut may be eaten either raw or smoke-cured.  The smoked nut can be kept for a year if necessary and is a staple.

The process of smoking is simple.   First the fruit is cut in half.  All the woody pith is removed and the fibrous outside or shell is thrown away.   The nuts are cleaned and hung from the rafters in the house just above the fire where there is a lot of smoke from the daily cooking.  The nuts become smoked over time by just hanging there.   Sometimes the Paupauns build houses in remote spots just to harvest and smoke the pandanus nut if the groves are located far from their villages.    Every day and night for weeks the fire is kept burning to give the smoke a chance to become smoke-cured.

P. julianetti    Kara Nuts

This is the most common species in New Guinea.   they are commonly referred to as the Kara Nuts by people other than the Paupauns.  The groves of pandanus grow to great heights - often exceeding 100 feet.  The leaves are often over 15 feet log giving the jungle a really neat tropical look.  The fruits can weigh 60 pounds and you better watch where you walk because they are lethal when they fall.


Another  close relative that produces red fruit which is usually long and conical in shape.  Each syncarp is surrounded by red, fleshy pericarp or internal fiber which is scooped out and boiled into a sort of soup.

P. leram

In the Nicobar Islands the immense fruit cones consist of several wedge-shaped fruits which, when eaten raw, are uneatable.   But when you boil them in water and steam them under pressure, they become sort of a mealy mass.  This mass forms the daily bread of the islanders.

 The flavor of the mass strongly resembles that of apple marmalade and has an agreeable taste to westerners. 

P. pendunculatus     Australia and New Holland are home to this species.   This plant is often called the BREADFRUIT and is eagerly eaten by the natives.   The stones are very hard and contain a pleasant kernel.  The fruit is a staple food in many coral reef islands and the inhabitants of certain atolls have been described as "Pandanus peoples".


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Chocolate Caramels

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2-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup water
1 cup light cream
1 cup butter 2 sticks)
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 oz piece parafin cut into small pieces (1-1/2" squares)

Combine all ingredients into a 4 quart heavy saucepan.  Stir and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and butter and parafin are melted.  reduce heat to low, stir occasionally, until mixture reaches 240 degrees. (about 40 minutes)

Continue stirring continuously and vigorously to prevent scourching, to a firm ball stage. (248 degrees).  (another 20 minutes)

Remove from heat and pour into a lightly buttered 9" square pan.   When candy gets firm, mark into 3/4" strips with a knife.  When candy is cool and firm (about 3 hours) cut into strips, remove strips from pan, and cut into squares.  wrap individually with waxed paper.  Makes about 120 caramels or 2-1/2 pounds.

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Caramel and Butterscotch are made in similar ways to toffee, as is fudge. The difference is in the degree of boiling temperature and the ways in which they are cooled. This whole process uses high-heat to convert sugar. Crystallization, graininess, and whether it is brittle or smooth are simply variations of this process.

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