How to cook with native Australian bush flavours

Interested to try your hand at cooking with native Australian flavours? Here's how.

Like many lands, Australia is a multicultural society and we are able to enjoy food from varying cultures. But unfortunately, until recent times our very own naturally occurring foods – Australian native food or bush tucker – have been largely overlooked by the mainstream, non-Indigenous culture.

Although much of our continent looks barren and infertile, there has always been an abundance of food which our first peoples knew where to locate in each particular region.

Bush tucker is not only a wonderful taste adventure, but contains an array of health benefits. The majority of the ingredients are wild harvested and have not been subjected to insecticides.

Where can you find bush ingredients?

You could forage in the wild but you do need to identify 100% before consumption and to be aware that some foods require preparation to make them safe to eat. That means unless you absolutely know what you’re doing, it’s easiest and safest to buy from a specialty bush food supplier.

We stock a range of bush food ingredients in our online shop and despatch every week day to all parts of Australia and the world. Our aim over the past eight years has been to source as many ingredients as possible from all parts of Australia.  We currently have approximately 40 ingredients.

Homemade rye bread with seeds

“Wattleseed has a beautiful, nutty, mild coffee flavour, and is full of nutrients.”

7 easy ways to use native flavours

You can use native herbs in your flavour base for a huge range of dishes – curries, stir fries, sauces, marinades and more. The easiest way to start is to add bush flavours in with your garlic and chilli.

Add herbs like wattleseed, native thyme, saltbush and pepperberry halfway through cooking, and add more delicate herbs (such as lemon myrtle, aniseed myrtle, cinnamon myrtle, strawberry gum or peppermint gum) at the end, or even after you remove from heat.

Here are some other simple ways to incorporate native Australian ingredients into your cooking.

1. Wattleseed bread

When making homemade bread, add a teaspoon of roasted and ground wattleseed to the mix. Wattleseed has a beautiful, nutty, mild coffee flavour, and is full of nutrients.

2. Bush tomato pasta sauce

Add a teaspoon of crushed bush tomato to your pasta sauce for a rich, exquisite flavour – imagine a blend of sun dried tomato, caramel and tamarillo.

3. Breadcrumbs with lemon myrtle

Lemon myrtle is one of the most popular native Australian herbs. Mix it with cinnamon myrtle and chilli and add to your breadcrumb mix.

4. Quandong dessert

Quandongs, also known as wild peaches, have a brilliant scarlet colour and a tart taste that is sometimes described as similar to rhubarb, or as a combination of apricots and peaches. For a delicious dessert, soak dried quandong in water overnight, cook until soft, then sweeten as desired. Serve with ice cream, cream or custard, or use as a pie filling. You could also puree with the cooking juice and use as an ice cream topping.

5. Easy wattleseed ice cream

Here’s a simple way to add a rich and nutty flavour twist to vanilla ice cream. Put two teaspoons of wattleseed into a cup and just cover with boiling water – this will swell the wattleseed and release the flavours. Allow to cool. Slightly soften a litre of vanilla ice cream. Stir through the wattleseed slurry, then refreeze.

6. Lemon aspen puree 

Lemon aspen is a pale yellow fruit with a tart, lemony taste. A great way to use lemon aspen is to cook it out with a little water in a saucepan, then puree it and cool it down. You can now use this in a dressing, cheesecake, marinade or just about anything.

7. Native thyme marinade

Try native thyme as a baked potato spice, BBQ marinade or a red meat rub. When used in dishes featuring chicken, turkey, pork or lamb, a small amount goes a long way.

Learn more about native bush food and buy ingredients at bushfoodshop.com.au


Image credit: Quandongs (main image): JennyKS [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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