Although Native Australian ingredients, “bush foods” may have appeared to have had a resurgence in the limelight of current food trends, Indigenous Australians have been aware of their many wonderful flavours and properties for over 40,000 years.
We personally believe that this recent celebration of the nutrient rich produce our land has to offer, is nothing short of great news. Incorporating fruits and flowers from Australia’s lush rainforests, herbs and fungi from the woodlands and wild nuts and seeds into our cuisine is the way things should be.
Here is a quick breakdown of 12 delicious Native Australian ingredients we think you should try at home this year!
Native tomatoes with strong tamarillo and caramel flavours. These dried, peanut-sized tomatoes can be easily reconstituted and added to chutneys, sauces and stews. They are high in protein and strong in flavour.
Essentially a ground bush tomato powder. Easily mixed into salad dressings, bread dough or as a seasoning for meats and fish. Also pairs well with ground coriander and wattle seed as part of a spice blend.
There are four varieties of Davidson plum or “orray”, which grow from the far tropical north of Australia to northern New South Wales. They have 100 times the vitamin C found in oranges and also contain lutein, a compound that plays an important role in eye health, along with magnesium, zinc, calcium potassium and manganese.
Davidson plums can be extremely sour and so they tend to fair well when cooked with plenty of sugar, dubbing them the perfect ingredient for relishes and chutneys. They can also be used in a similar fashion to English Sloes, and used to flavour Gin.
Wild Rosella Fruit
A striking red flower berry with an acidic rhubarb-like taste. A beautiful inclusion in chutney, jam, pie-fillings, ice cream, sorbet, pastries and fruit stews. Can be added to tea leaf blends as a fruit tea infusion.
Australian Pepper Berry
Pepper berries are usually found in the cooler parts of Australia and feature heavily across traditional indigenous uses as an ingredient for cooking but also for its medicinal qualities. Packed with antioxidants and holding a punchy flavour, pepper berry can be used in a similar fashion to black pepper however has a slightly softer profile and therefore lends well to poultry and fish.
High in fat but cholesterol free, these nuts can be blended into nut butter or used in a hummus (outrageously good FYI) or can be chopped as a topping on cakes and desserts. Of course, they can also simply be eaten as they are and or roasted and salted.
Usually roasted and ground, Wattle seed has suggestions of coffee, chocolate and hazelnut. A great addition to a fruit crumb or in a marinade. Also try using sparingly in ice cream, pavlova, pancakes, bread or in your favourite chocolate recipe. Did we mention fantastic in a liqueur!
Paperbark is less of an ingredient and more of a useful cooking tool, used to wrap fish, lamb or other meats and imparting a smoky flavour when cooked. Should be soaked before using and particularly effective used over an open fire where its smokey properties really come into their own.
Usually found as dried whole leaves, lemon myrtle produces an aroma similar to lemon grass. Delicious used sparingly in desserts such as crème brulees and ice creams. Lemon Myrtle can also be used as an aromatic in soups, sauces, stews, pickles. Also pairs well with fish and crab dishes.
Native Pepper leaf
Available as a whole leaf or a dried powder, Pepper leaf is used in a similar manner to bayleaf, but has a burst of heat that should be used sparingly.
A wonderfully unique peppermint flavour that can be infused in desserts such as chocolate truffles, custards, ice creams, sauces and pastries. Also makes a great cuppa!
Has a flavour well suited to custards, ice cream, rich meat sauces, marinades or as a splendid tonic tea. One of our personal favourite ways to use native aniseed is to pair with a little bit of pepper berry and infuse in a rich poultry stock to serve with chicken or duck.
How about you, have you had any experience with native Australian ingredients? Or have any hot tips or recipes you would like to share?
We would love to hear from you so post away in the comments below…