The Sioma Valley in Zambia has become the heartbeat of Zambezi Organics (Pty) Ltd. The banks of the Zambezi River unearthed much more than the nut we set out searching for. We found a people that, although being next to a river, experience the harshness of droughts with limited tools for irrigation. We found a rural community with the potential to thrive. Nurturing relationships between corporation and community, between chief and CEO, between villagers and employees has turned this area into a blooming bond of kinship in a sustainable, organic and holistic way.
The Manketti / Mongongo tree does not bear fruit until it is at least 25 years old, and it is crucial to guard these trees and protect their surroundings in order to have the benefits of this ‘super-nut’ for generations to come. The nuts are harvested in Zambia along a 400 km stretch of the Zambezi River. The entire procurement process conforms to wild harvesting and is certified organic as the harvesting area has never been exposed to chemicals.
Cracking the Nut
Zambezi Organics supplies Manketti nuts that are processed using cutting edge technology and patented cold extraction techniques.
Manketti Oil is a beautifully dense, rich cooking oil with an alluring nutty scent. Apart from its array of benefits, it is also a dream to cook with. You can literally taste and smell as the goodness of this oil adds flavour to your dishes, puts a zing to your zest and a mamma mia to your mayo.
Whether you fancy yourself a bit of a master chef or you enjoy the finer nuances of haute cuisine, creating dishes with Manketti Oil will introduce your palate to a world of new and exciting taste experiences. Just ask celebrity chef, François Ferreira, Manketti Oil’s brand ambassador to the culinary stars. With his vast knowledge and experience that includes serving three sitting South African presidents, writing books on cookery that have won him four international awards, appearances on TV and radio, contributions to printed media on all things cuisine, as well as running his signature culinary training institute, Francois Ferreira Academy, he knows a thing or two about a palate for success, and rates Manketti Oil as exciting, fresh and brimming with glorious golden possibility.
Behind the nuttiness of it all
The Manketti tree, a deciduous nut-bearing tree, found along a 400km stretch of the Zambezi River, grows on seasonal drylands, surviving unreliable rains and temperatures ranging from – 10ºC in winter to well over 38ºC in summer. It is found wild and in abundance throughout subtropical Southern Africa where it occurs in large groves, some running for several kilometres. The tree does not bear fruit until it is at least 25 years old. It leaf's in October, flowers and begins to bear a green fuzzy fruit from April to May. The plumb-like fruit matures on the ground and develops a sweet date-like flavour, a favourite among local Elephants and Kudu who only eat the soft fruit, leaving the nuts behind. The fruits ripen between February and April.
The local community benefits from the ‘Nuts for Cash” campaign when collecting the nuts. Payment is effected on the spot. Maize is often preferred as the nearest town is about 60 km away and the cost to get there is exorbitant. The local Zambian women act as nut harvesters and collect the nuts from under the trees.
Locals also enjoy the nut, but because of the extremely tough outer shell, they first have to roast the seeds to reveal the inner shell holding the white kernels. The difficult outer shell has proven to be a major barrier to commercial exploitation of the Mongongo nut but has preserved this excellent food source for the indigenous people of Africa. The seeds are roasted and then cracked to remove the hard, outer shell leaving the inner shell intact, which helps to keep the kernels clean until they are required for later use. The white kernels taste like roasted almonds, but after roasting them to a toasty brown colour, they develop a cheesy flavour.