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Australian Native Bush Foods

Australian plants have been a new trend in restaurants for some time now, and the benefits are showing in the wider range of these foods available in supermarkets. We at Wilson Park APS are lucky to have Rodger Elliot speaking on bushfoods on Oct 13th, and our members are putting on a bush foods themed supper afterwards.

Bushfoods cover a range of plants, some of which have been used since the earliest settlers. However Australia has a longer history of bush food use than a few hundred years, and there is a lot of interest in traditional foods.

One of the most well-known is the macadamia. Originally from QLD, it is now grown extensively in Hawaii and South Africa as well as QLD. Other foods include native mint, used to flavour cheeses and chutney, lemon myrtle and wattle seeds. All of these are available in supermarkets. Ones that I have found delicious have been a mango and native mint chutney, native mint flavoured cheese, and lilly pilly jam.

Fruits include quandong, kutjera, muntries, riberry, Davidson's plum, lilly pillies and finger lime, which can be used in jams, chutneys and condiments. Native spices include lemon myrtle, mountain pepper, saltbush and aniseed myrtle, which are popular as marinade ingredients. Vegetables include warrigal spinach, various yams, wild celery and native parsnips. Seeds are mainly wattle (only specific varieties, not all are edible), but also some grasses and native pigweed.

For Victorian gardeners, some of these will be harder to grow as they are tropical or desert plants. However, lilly pillies, finger limes, muntries, native mint, the vegetables, wattles, saltbushes and lemon myrtle will do well in the garden. The macadamia is a tropical tree, but given the right microclimate and protected from frost will grow, although nut production may be small. Desert plants may be grown in pots, with good drainage and sheltered from frost.

So have a look in the chutneys and herbs and spices section next time you are in the supermarket or farmers market. You may find a new favourite to add to dishes at home.

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