The indigenous communities of Australia have known about the benefits of Australian native foods for thousands of years - and now the rest of the world is also cottoning on. Here are a few of the easy ways you can eat adventurously and incorporate native Australian ingredients into your cooking.
Which spices are the real work horses in your kitchen? The ones that get so much use that you barely put them away because you know you will be getting them out again next time you cook. For many people, it’s salt and pepper. Perhaps chilli for a bit of heat and cinnamon for sweetness.
Even though these spices are a traditional part of Australian kitchens, they aren’t native Australian spices. In fact, aside from macadamias (which have long been a favourite due to their distinctive, soft crunch), native ingredients are generally overlooked in home kitchens in Australia. But as native foods become more recognised internationally for both their nutrition benefits and flavour properties, many home cooks are looking for ways to enhance their home cooking with native Australian ingredients.
This guide will make it easy for you to embrace native Australian ingredients at home in sweet and savoury dishes, as well as drinks and snacks, over the coming year.
Using Australian native spices as direct substitutes for more commonly used spices, boosts the flavour and adds interest to your cooking. We recommend these easy swaps the next time you are feeling adventurous in the kitchen.
Not every native Australian food has a direct flavour-swap with something you are already using in your kitchen. After all, think about the distinctive crunch of the native Australian macadamia - there really is no comparison for that texture! But some native Australian flavours can be incorporated into recipes you are already using. Here’s how:
Did you know that you can craft your own gin at home with native Australian botanicals? The process is simple: add your botanical ingredients (berries, spices, leaves, fruit etc) to 750ml of good quality vodka and stand in a cool place 24 hours. Strain out the botanicals, then allow your mix to sit for another 48 hours for the flavours to intensify before serving. Although the native Australian botanicals you use are limited only to your imagination, we recommend starting with a traditional gin recipe and substituting pepperberry and fresh lemon myrtle leaves for peppercorns and lemon peel.
If gin isn’t your thing, you can always bring the flavour of native Australian spices to your drinks by using purple-hued wild hibiscus flower salt to the rim of your margarita glass or simply adding a whole wild hibiscus flower to your glass of Australian sweet sparkling wine.
The benefits and flavours of Australian native plants can also be enjoyed in a cuppa! Forget your usual blend of ceylon or oolong, next time you are brewing a pot why not try tea made from quandong (wild peach) and anise myrtle? It has a sweet and sour peachy flavour with a hint of aniseed. There’s even a delicious native Australian alternative for your morning ‘pick-me-up’ in the form of this zesty Finger Lime and Native Mint tea.
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