Bijou Bush Tucker
What were once viewed as just shrubs in the backyard, or in some cases, noxious weeds, bush tucker has now become all bijou! From edible greens, to native seeds, wild fruits and tubers, our Indigenous ancestors have used these foods, found in nature, for centuries. Now foodies are discovering their unique taste and attractive visual qualities, and they are appearing on menus and deli shelves around the nation, as well as the world.
On my recent Scenic Rim Trail experience in South East Queensland, our group tasted wild raspberries and many types of native mint, and also came across the Kurrajong tree, featuring a cluster of black pods brimming with orange seeds. The Kurrajong tree is found across Australia in forests, woodlands and arid regions. Once roasted and ground, they have a rich, nutty flavour.
Our bush tucker guide, Alastair, took the seeds back to Spicers Peak Lodge for the chef, Doug Innes-Will to try his hand at incorporating them into his innovative degustation menu. Doug reports that he incorporated them into a native nut and seed “granola” which he serves with local quail and lilli pilli relish. He said they added a wonderful texture to the dish. The Kurrajong seeds are very nutritious, and are high in protein, fats and some minerals, so are not just tasty and good looking but also good for you!
I also recently chatted to bush tucker man, Lee Etheridge. In the 1990s Lee, who was always interested in food and nature, started conducting tours to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, featuring walks, picnics and native foods. He used to give his tour participants a free jar of home-made lilli pilli jam, and soon found that there was more interest in the jam than the tours! Hence, he moved from tour guide to food producer, creating native bush food products such as relishes, spices and jams and selling them nationally and internationally. He now sells his native bush products only in Australia, due to the high cost of ingredients, and they are available online at The Bushtucker Shop. There is a tantalising array – from Finger Lime Curd to Macadamia Nut Butter and Bush Tomato Relish. Lee is also the inventor of the infamous Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup and other flower products…now exported to 50 countries, with factories in Australia, Thailand and Malaysia – but that’s a story for another day – so watch this space!
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