Crunchy and tasty, Brazil nuts are a type of nuts with an exotic appeal that are selected by nuts experts for true nuts lovers. Did you know that in different languages this type of nut is known by different names?
Commonly known as “Brazil nut”, this delicious nut is characterized by a variety of names in the other languages. The reason behind the different names are to be found in the areas of origin and cultivation of the homonymous plant: in fact it is the fruit of the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa), i.e. a tree native to Brazil that spontaneously grows in the Amazon, which extends over a total area of more than 6,000,000 km2 and covers several states, including mainly Brazil (hence the name of the fruit), Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
The harvesting of the fruit is done directly from the ground during the rainy season (from December to March): in fact, once ripen, the woody capsule containing 10 to 20 shells with the nuts falls on the ground from an height of sometimes more than 50 metres.
The peculiarity of Brazil nuts lies in the fact that the nut is not cultivated, but handpicked within natural areas as the fruit of exclusively wild plants. In fact, Brazil nut trees can only be found as spontaneous plant growing in some areas of the Amazon.
Although the most common name for this delicious seed recalls Brazilian lands, actually most of the harvest comes from two regions of Bolivia. In that area the spoken language is Spanish and the fruit is known with different names: “avellana del Brasil”, “castaña del Brasil”, “coquito de Brasil”, “nuez amazónica”, “nuez del Brasil”, “nuez boliviana”, “nuez de Pará”, “castaña del Maranon”, “castaña de Pará” o “castaña de monte”, as well as “almendra”, “castaña del Beni”, “castaña amazónica” or “castaña boliviana”.
Just as in the case of Spanish, also Portuguese has several terms used to define the fruit of the Brazil nuts. Among these are “castanha-do-pará” that is derived from the the Brazilian region where it is to be found, “amendoeira-da-américa”, “castanha verdadeira”, “castanha-do-Brasil”, “castanha-do-maranhao”, “castanha-mansa”, “noz-do-Brasil”, “castanheiro” and “castanheira-rosa”. It is precisely from these Spanish and Portuguese terms that a further Italian name commonly used to indicate the fruit of the Brazil nut, namely "castagna del Brasile", derives. Among the other Italian names it is possible to found “noce del Brasile”, “noce brasiliana”, “sprenciolo” and “noce amazzonica”.
After the harvesting and processing stages in the different states of South America, Brazil nuts are prepared for export. In fact, the main markets where they can be found are North America and Europe. In recent years, exports have increased considerably thanks to the spread of knowledge about the beneficial properties of this fruit.
Germany is one of the main importers of Brazil nuts in Europe. As a consequence of the strong presence on the German market, the German language has a variety of terms used to define the fruit of the Brazil nut tree, not only “Paranuss”, which originates from the country located in northern Brazil, but also “Amazonenmandel”, “Brasilianische Kastanie”, “Brasilnuss”, “Steinnuss”, “Marahonkastanie”, “Tucanuss” and “Juvianuss” / “Yuvianuss”.
No matter how you call it: let the incredible taste of this exceptional fruit amaze you!
Colmeiro, Miguel: «Diccionario de los diversos nombres vulgares de muchas plantas usuales ó notables del antiguo y nuevo mundo», Madrid, 1871.
Waldemar Ternes, Alfred Täufel, Lieselotte Tunger, Martin Zobel (Hrsg.): Lebensmittel-Lexikon. 4., umfassend überarbeitete Auflage. Behr, Hamburg 2005