• Jessica Pecush

A Taste of Australia!


In visiting Australia for the first time, along with its stunning, geographical beauty, ultra-friendly people and unforgettable food scene, I couldn't wait to learn about the foods indigenous to this country! Between reading several articles and websites and coming across various products, I finally purchased a handful of herbs and spices. These were found at the Kingston Night Market from vendor Bent Shed Produce, while adventuring around Canberra, Australian Capital Territory!

I truly can't wait to begin incorporating these herbs and spices in both my favourite recipes, as well as in some new recipes I have sourced online! With distinct smells and flavours like none I've ever come across before, they are sure to enhance whatever culinary dish is as hand!

Here is a sampling of some of Australia's indigenous herbs and spices, along with some culinary-related information I gathered about them from my research!

Stay tuned for future posts that incorporate these delights!

Mountain Pepperberry

  • The dried berries of Tasmania lanceolata (Mountain Pepperberry tree)

  • Possesses a taste hotter than that of black pepper; it may possess a sweet taste at first, but then the hot, peppery taste will kick in![i]

  • Very high in antioxidant activity; traditionally used for both cooking and medicinal purposes

  • Are more versatile than conventional peppercorn, as they can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes[ii]

  • Be prepared for it to turn your food pink!

Mountain Pepperleaf

  • The dried leaves of Tasmania lanceolata (Mountain Pepperberry tree)

  • The dried and ground leaves are commonly used in breads, as well as for flavoring meat[iii]

  • A great addition to olive oil (when making a dressing or sauce); can also be sprinkled onto soup[iv]

  • Possesses an herby, peppery flavour

  • Is hotter than black pepper, but without the intense hit of pepper[v]

  • Has a more subtle, organic, herbal flavour than the Mountain Pepperberry; is more ideal for use when the intensity of the Mountain Pepperberry is too much for the dish at hand![vi]

Lemon Myrtle

  • The dried leaves of Backhousia citriodora

  • Traditionally used for both cooking and medicinal purposes

  • The leaves are cool-dried to prevent loss of its essential oils, later ground and stored in a cool, dry place for future use

  • A very versatile and refreshing herb[vii]

  • Its oil has extremely high citral purity (even higher than that of lemongrass(

  • An excellent alternative to lemon (more rich than lemon, both in smell and in flavour), without the acidity of lemon

  • Appears to be one of Australia’s most popular native herbs - used with many types of culinary dishes, from fish, poultry and roast vegetables (in combination with Mountain Pepperberry) to desserts[viii]

  • Is anti-microbial; the leaves are commonly used for both personal care products and cleaning agents[ix]

Aniseed Myrtle

  • The dried leaves of Syzygium anisatum (a large, rainforest tree)

  • Its aromatic leaves have a pleasant and subtle licorice-like taste, therefore suitable for both cooking and tea (particularly in any dishes where fennel may be used)

  • Has anti-microbial properties[x]

  • Popular for flavouring desserts, sweet sauces and preserves

  • Also popular as a savoury sauce or marinade for meat

  • Contributes a deep, fragrant flavour to salad dressings

  • Traditionally used for the purposes of weight loss, stomach discomfort and lactation[xi]

Wattleseed

  • The dried and ground seed of Acacia victoriae

  • Has provided the Indigenous Australians a high source of protein and carbohydrate during times of drought[xii]

  • Once the seed is harvested, wattleseeds are roasted (may then be ground or kept whole)

  • A versatile ingredient, commonly used in baking, to thicken sauces, in casseroles and in desserts

  • By dark-roasting these seeds, they impart a highly pleasant aroma of nutty, fresh-roasted coffee, so may be used as a beverage or to enhance chocolate or desserts

  • Rich in calcium, potassium, iron and zinc

  • High in fiber

  • Is low-scoring on the Glycemic Index[xiii]

Native Peppersalt

This is a savoury mix of the following:

  • Salt flakes

  • Mountain Pepperberry (see description above)

  • Mountain Pepperleaf (see description above)

  • Wattleseed (see description above)

*Suggested use is on meats and vegetables, such as potato

Oz El Hanout

This is a take on a mixed spice, as inspired by the North African spice Ras el hanout, for suggested use in baking or savoury dishes (i.e. tagines)

It is a mix of the following:

  • Pepperberry

  • Lemon Myrtle

  • Wattleseed

  • Aniseed Myrtle

  • Forestberry Herb (aka Strawberry Gum) (see description below)

  • Dried Finger Lime

  • Cinnamon

  • Cloves

  • Ginger

  • Nutmeg

  • Coriander

  • Cumin

Strawberry Gum

  • Aka Forestberry Herb and Eucalyptus olisa

  • The leaves are distilled, due to their crystal-like, essential oils that are then used in flavourings and perfumes

  • Is high in antioxidant activity

  • The leaves are also transformed into a dried spice for cooking, particularly for use with fruit dishes, desserts and spiced jams, as well as in herbal teas and carbonated beverages[xiv]

  • Possesses a rich, sweet, strawberry scent

ENDNOTES

[i] Australia Nurseries Online: Mountain Pepper Berry. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://www.nurseriesonline.com.au/plant-index/herb-plants/mountain-pepper-berry/

[ii] Native Tastes of Australia: Pepperberry. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/pepperberry/

[iii] Australia Nurseries Online: Mountain Pepper Berry. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://www.nurseriesonline.com.au/plant-index/herb-plants/mountain-pepper-berry/

[iv] Native Tastes of Australia: Pepperleaf. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/mountain-pepper/

[v] Bent Shed Produce: Pure dried herbs and spices. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from

http://bentshedproduce.com.au/products/#herbs

[vi] Native Tastes of Australia: Pepperberry. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/pepperberry/

[vii] Native Tastes of Australia: Lemon Myrtle. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/lemon-myrtle/

[viii] Native Tastes of Australia: Lemon Myrtle. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/lemon-myrtle/

[ix] Native Tastes of Australia: Lemon Myrtle. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/lemon-myrtle/

[x] Gardening With Angus – Bringing You The Best In Australian Plants: Syzygium anisatu – Aniseed Myrtle. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/syzygium-anisatum-aniseed-myrtle/

[xi] Native Tastes of Australia: Aniseed Myrtle. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/aniseed-myrtle/

[xii] Native Tastes of Australia: Wattleseed. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/wattleseed/

[xiii] Australian Native Food & Botanicals: Wattleseed. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://anfab.org.au/main.asp?_=Wattleseed

[xiv] Native Tastes of Australia: Strawberry Gum. Retrieved November 17, 2017 from http://tasteaustralia.biz/bushfood/strawberry-gum-olida/

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