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Issue 13, Oct-Nov 1999
Once again, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional people who walked this land and ate these foods long before we brought our mixed blessings to their shore
Three P's, GST and the Net
The magazine is now in its third year of publication and, though it's been rather historically late in coming out, it's probably gone through most of its teething pains and is now settling into the plateau or steady growth phase. Over the last six months there have been developments both good and bad. The price of printing and postage has gone up and this has a very direct and rather dismal effect on profitability. The price of the plastic bags which we ship the magazine out in has also gone up and though this has a very small impact, I thought I'd put it in because it made up the third P.
GST is now with us and this Issue and Issue 14 will be the last that are GST-free. I've thought long and hard about the best approach and have decided that: the magazine will be enlarged to 44pp per issue from Issue 15, the price will remain the same for the next 5 issues (15-19) and there will be only 5 issues per year. If any of you out there have a better solution, I'd be pleased to hear from you.
On the good-news front, I have decided to put the magazine on line. This is an exciting and rather daunting undertaking but it has many advantages: full colour throughout, no postage costs, easier access for a greater number of people and a lower cost for those who get the mag on line rather than hard copy.
I am working with an ISP provider on this now and hope that the first on-line issue will be Issue 14.
I will be strongly encouraging anyone who can to switch from hard copy to on-line. As prices continue to rise, this may be the sustaining factor for the mag. Being on-line will also give the mag the opportunity to become much more interactive and will give it a wider potential audience.
I'm looking forward to it and hope that you're able to switch from ink on paper to bushfood.com.
Second Griffith University Bushfood Conference - to be held May 27th - further information - Ph - 07 5494 3812. email -firstname.lastname@example.org
Two lads from Whyalla have opened the Eight Mile Creek restaurant in New York and it's apparently booked out till next year! Their menu features Pepper berry, emu, kangaroo, pavlova, and Bundy Rum Quail...
A response to the somewhat useful pages of the last issue -
Foam boxes and black plastic
The containers we use for seed collection, particularly Acacias are actually large styrofoam boxes similar to boxes used for packing crayfish. These are slipped between the bulk of the branches, and co-ordinated stripping of the pods from the plants ensures that all fall into the box. If managed properly and collected at the appropriate time, then very little falls to the ground and is wasted. These boxes also have lids which is encouraging for travelling. The size of the plastic sheet needed for placing on the ground beneath other bushes is normally that size which can be managed by one person and therefore does not need to be bulky or cumbersome. Plastic sheeting can be used like a skirt around the base of the shrub. A metre or two of black plastic is normally sufficient. For species other than Acacia, such as fine seed (like Eucalyptus) the plastic can be used to layer branches on, thus making the job easier to unload when you get home. These methods work well in south eastern and western Australia, don't know about the tropical areas though!
Wild seed collection and harvest.
Any seed collected from the wild, should only be collected where there are a number of plants of the same species (eg. 10 bushes), these must be healthy, and only 10% of the seed of any one plant should be collected. Check with local and State authorities however before collecting or harvest ing any seed as each will have their own specific permit requirements. All too often people believe they can just go and collect anywhere from anything and of any amount. This is what contributes to the loss of our native plants and can make all the difference between a plant being common, rare, threatened or even endangered. Australia has the highest level of extinct species and we need to be aware that any actions we, as individuals, make, do not contribute further to this loss. We need to ensure that sufficient seed stays behind on the plant to allow germination and continuation of genetic diversity.
The need for seed orchards..
Seed orchards need to be developed by collectors and harvesters, as this is the most appropriate way to protect, manage and enhance our native species. Continual collection over the same area soon reduces a plant's viability in the long term, and may impact on whether a plant can and does regenerate in the wild. There is also no known method other than the visual one at this stage, that I am aware of, to suggest that a particular area has already been harvested in that season. So you could literally have a number of people each collecting from the same plant. While this may be better evaluated with ripe fruit harvesting, as in cherry fruits, limes etc. it remains an area of concern with seed collection from other species such as the acacias and finer seeds. This is an area that needs further refining by State agencies, through record keeping and controls, to ensure our precious species and their biodiversity. Remnant areas need this protection and conservation to ensure that species remain healthy and that individual plants are collected from only once per season. We also need to be mindful that sufficient quantities of native foods and plants remain for traditional indigenous use.
Complacency often allows collectors to believe that their harvest is clean, simply because the eye cannot see any insects. But I would suggest (and I'm sure entomologists would agree), that many plants, plant materials and seed contains microscopic insects which need to be treated and controlled. In the more humid areas collectors also need to be mindful of fungal growth. Methods and management of seed storage will also impact on seed viability.
Another misconception is that all Acacia seed must be treated with boiling hot water to aid germination. Some Acacias require no treatment at all, others require only hot water not boiling water, and still others prefer to soak for awhile. Other plant species have their own requirements and this may include scarification or even nicking the shell as with quandongs. Caution however is warranted because some species also contain a chemical on their seed shell which may be caustic in their reaction with skin.
Seed and fruit harvesting are very time consuming, however, a little extra care can mean the difference between a good and a better quality product. Neither at this stage will provide extremely high returns for your effort. However to look holistically at what is trying to be achieved, and the increasing market demands and supply, things can only improve with time. Organic farming and permaculture are very select methods which have taken some time to evolve to an accepted level and product demand in the wider community. The quality of the product is suggested to be superior. Bushfoods are no different - except that they have been there under our noses the whole time, and we have to re-learn our Western way of thinking, and acknowledge and value the culture and heritage of indigenous Australians.
`Bush foods' is a very challenging and rewarding industry, with our knowledge growing daily, however like most things it requires commitment and a great deal of patience. There will be financial gains over time, however you won't become a millionaire overnight.Christine Jones
Australian Bush Products
In response to your question regarding germination and also use of the Acacia pycnantha we sent you - yes, try and germinate some, you should get good results.
Roasting is best done in a cast iron frying pan or pot with a lid. It's a bit like popcorn when you roast this seed! Preheat the pan to 150-200 degrees C then throw in a cup full of seed. Keep the seed moving so you don't charcoal them Once you hear that popcorn sound remove the pan from the heat and keep the pan moving until there is no more popping. Too much cooking and you will have a burnt and bitter mix, too little and it can taste like boiled grass!
Transfer the seed to another dish and allow to completely cool before you grind them. For home use, try a good quality coffee grinder, they do a great job. I have tried a few grinders and found a brand called `Moulinex' which is made from stainless steel and has replacable blades, I believe it was around $50 from a major retailer. Plastic types tend to chip easily and I don't know about you but I can do without any more plastic in my diet! Once ground, store the seed in a glass container in the fridge and the mix will keep for around 6 months.Brian King
Muntari Wild Food Products
I've just done a bit of culinary work on two Backhousia oils sent to me by Ron of Bellinger Valley Bush Foods. Here are my comments
B. citriodora is now an established oil for both culinary and aroma-therapy uses.
B. anisata, however, has yet to be recognized to the same extent.
Well, I, at le
ast, now recognize it for its amazing flavour.
I tried two small experiments with a combination of both oils. One using them in a cordial, and one in an icing mix. This might not sound a big deal, but both these simple things are consumed in great quantities by supermarket consumers.
The cordial recipe was 500g sugar, 500ml water, a teaspoon of citric acid, two drops B cit., and four drops b. anis. The flavour of the anisata was remarkably enhanced by the addition of the citriodora, making a flavour different from both. It was thirst quenching in South Australia's rather warm spell the other day - 40oC, and I'm still using it even in the colder weather.
From the `vintner's description' point of view, the citriodora has a high note, loud, clear and clean, with no echo. The anisata has a slightly lower and softer note, almost a chord, with a slight echo - not at all unpleasant, on the back of the tongue. For any of you thinking of using these oils in your culinary delights, I can recommend them.
We have a long way to go before we run out of different flavours from the Bush, and next week, on my first trip North (to Darwin and Oenpelli) I intend to consult the experts in this field. I will be writing something about the trip for Warm Earth, but Sammy might also be interested in an article from a different point of view. We'll see what happens.
Please note - these prices are correct to the best of the editor's knowledge - however, there is wide variation in both buying and selling prices of some produce.
l Help! Who's got the bush tomatoes?? Have a number of people after them.
Reply to - the mag (Ph: 07 5494 3812) email: email@example.com
l See advert for Fresheronly - page 17
l 100 Bunya Pine seedlings (Araucaria bidwilli)
20 Dorrigo Pepper seedlings (Tasmannia stipitata)
20 Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)
10 Native Cinnamon (Backhousia myrtifolia)
50 Sweet Appleberry (Billardiera scandens)
Please forward the estimated cost for each of the listed species as well as freight etc to Aaron Edmonds, PO Box 55, Calingiri, WA 6569 firstname.lastname@example.org
l Bellinger Valley Bushfoods and Rainforest Essential Oils currently has available essential oils of Backhousia Anisata and Backhousia Citriodora.
Both oils are currently available in 1 litre amber glass, and will very
shortly (April) be available in 15ml and 25 ml bottles fitted with dripolators.
The prices below for 1 litre bottles include delivery C.O.D. to your nearest
Post Office. Other sizes do not include delivery and will depend on quantity. Interest in distribution is welcome. Contact: email@example.com
Phone (02)66 559544 (02)66 537146
Aniseed Myrtle 1 litre $465 Lemon Myrtle 1 Litre $155
25 ml $16.50 25ml $14.50
15 ml $12.50 15ml $8.50
l Willow Creek Farm have a range of new value-added products:
Wild Lime and Lemon Marmalade 100g $3.95
Bush Tomato Chutney 180ml $4.25
Muntries and Chilli Sauce 250g $4.90
Quandong Jam 100g $4.50
Ph/Fax: 0885 252 610 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
l Warrigal Green seed - $5.00 for 50gms including postage - the mag
l Small qty Diploglottis campbellii seed - 120gms in fact - $5 - the mag
l See advert for Fresheronly - page 17
l Riberry (Syzygium luehmannii) - $8-$10 per clean, sorted kg, fresh and frozen
l Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii) - $5.00-$8.00/kg in shell
l Warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragondoides) - $6-$8/kg fresh or $9-$10/kg blanched and
l Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) - wide variation in price - $28-$53/kg dried and ground
down to $11/kg for dried leaf
l Wattle seed - fresh - $11-$18/kg
l Wild lime (Citrus glauca) - $8-$12/kg fresh or frozen
l Bush tomato (Solanum centrale) - $25-$35/kg
l Round lime (Citrus australis) - $5-$8/kg fresh
These things I know - I don't know much... however, basic observation and the discipline of a simple exercise book has given me a basis on which to build some knowledge of this most prolific and little understood bushfood.
The three year cycle.
I don't buy this. First - our climate does not run in neat, three year cycles - so why should this be the determining factor? Second - the `bumper years' do not seem to have any real relationship to climatic variances. Third - When does the cycle start? The Bunyas we are harvesting at present may be from trees which are 15 to 100+ years old. If the three year cycle starts from germination, we should have a multitude of cycles and thus no real cycle at all. (There is a counter argument to this - it is a well known fact that the menstrual cycle of women who work or live closely together start to come together - eventually they are all ovulating and menstruating at the same time).
This season (Dec 1999-Feb 2000) has not been a good year for Bunyas. The only good crops I have found have been from groves of Bunya pines - the solitary trees have yielded naught. Trees on higher ground seem to have fruited more than those on lower areas - after a VERY wet season, this may have something to do with simple soil saturation. It is suggested that the Bunya is wind pollinated and thus the wet, still conditions have hindered pollination - we don't know.
I believe the central core of the cone has a provocative effect on germination of the nut - cones which fall to the ground and remain whole will start to germinate (starting with those nuts which are on the `ground side' - the moister side no doubt). When harvesting, pull apart the cone, no matter how green or tight it may be and discard the central pineapple to discourage germination. I have a number of nuts in which the cotyledon has obviously begun to form but not found its way out of the shell (see scan this page)
Cone and nut weight
I did a fair amount of weighing as I was processing the cones and nuts. My largest cone was a whopping 6.4 kg with 86 good kernels weighing between 34-36gms, giving a total nut weight of 1.98kg. This one third rule seemed to the norm. The average cone weight was around 4.8kg. An average kernel is around 73% of the shell and kernel weight. Thus, for every 1kg of cone collected, you can expect to get around 250gms of actual product. A sobering thought when walking up a steep climb with 25kg of Bunya cones in your carry box!
Post Harvest 1
Get them out of their cone - even if you can't process all the cones you harvest immediately, pull them apart so that the kernels are not attached to the central core. Store the separated kernels in an onion bag or similar so that they can dry.
Post Harvest 2
Splitting - each Bunya nut has a smooth side and a ridged side - if you are opening the nuts by the old fashioned knife and hammer method, always have the ridged side upwards - trying to cut through the smooth side takes twice as long.
The Bunya has been notoriously difficult to work with due to its tendancy to go off quickly. We think this has something to do with the Rhizobus fungus which, we believe, is in the nut and eager to get going. This is the same fungus which is used in Tempe making so we will be giving some nuts to a Tempe maker to experiment with - more on this to come. I have now made up a number of batches of bunya `pellets' and it would appear that we finally have a method by which to store the Bunya nut without degrading its basic properties (more research to come on this!) It's important that the raw nut is used when blending up this nut meal - cooked nuts simply go to goo when put in a blender. Complete drying doesn't seem to reduce the mass of the nut meal but your weight reduction is in the order of 65-75%. A member of the Bunya consortium here in Maleny has also dried both half nuts and sliced nuts completely and found that they reconstitute well.
Without doing my homework, I sent 50kg of Bunyas to a buyer in WA - only to find them nabbed by the quarantine service! An expensive, embarrassing experience. Agriculture WA kindly sent me the following information regarding import of material into the state:
Part B 1.
Disinfection treatments (General pests) All plants, cuttings and budwood to be fumigated or thoroughly sprayed to run-off, pre or post entry, with one of the treatments appropriate to the particular plants listed. Pre-entry treatments to be certified by the Quarantine authority of the exporting State or Territory, or from a nursery approved by Agriculture Western Australia to carry out treatments. Treatments
All other plants, either:
(i) Fumigation with methyl bromide at one of the following rates for two hours:
56 g/m3 at 5oC to 10oC
48 g/m3 at 11oC to 15oC
40 g/m3 at 16oC to 20oC
32 g/m3 at 21oC to 25oC
24 g/m3 at 26oC to 30oC
16 g/m3 at 31oC and above. OR (ii) One of the following: Diazinon (80% A.I.) @ 6 mL per 10 L of water.
Methidathion (Supracide 400 g/L A.I.) @ 12.5 mL per 10 L of water.
Azinphos Methyl (350 g/kg A.I.) @ 14 g per 10 L of water. Chlorpyrifos (500 g/L A.I.) @ 10 mL per 10 L of water.
Endosulfan (Thiodan 35% A.I.) @ 19.5 mL per 10 L of water.
Methomyl (As Lannate L 22.5% A.I.) @ 10 mL per 10 L of water.
The treatments listed at (d) (ii) are to be mixed with either: (a) White Petroleum Oil @ 120 mL. OR (b) Commercial Wetting Agent at the maximum manufacturer's recommended rate.
Citrus tristeza virus certification
Citrus...entering Western Australia must be certified by the Quarantine authority of the ex porting State or Territory as being from a State or Territory where the Orange Stem Pitting Strain of the Citrus Tristeza virus has not been recorded.
All of the following - (Malvaceae) Cotton, hibiscus and okra plants (Hibiscus Erineum Mite or Leaf Crumpling Mite - Eriophyes hibisci Nalepa) must be certified by the Quarantine authority in the exporting State or Territory as:
(a) from an area which has been inspected and found free from Hibiscus Erineum Mite; or (b) fumigated with methyl bromide for two hours at the rates specified in Section 1.(d). (i); or (c) from a State or Territory where Hibiscus Erineum Mite has not been recorded.
All seed imported into Western Australia must be of a permitted type, meet any specific pest or disease conditions listed elsewhere and be free from prohibited weed seeds.
Whew!! (the ed)
From Lenore Lindsay
Much of what we know about traditional Aboriginal plant use in the north and west of Qld and NT is from the observations in Leichhardt's Journals, and many bush food authors quote these as source material, eg the Cribbs, Tim Low, Les Hiddins. My theory is he ate one thing too many that even his cast iron stom ach couldn't handle, and was poisoned out in the Never Never somewhere, hence his final non-return. It's interesting to do a comparison with Burke (of Burke and Wills). I've always thought Leichhardt came out of it rather better, but perhaps that's only the traditional view.
I grew up in Ipswich, and Queen's Park, not far from our place, was full of Bunya trees, the fruit of which was as eagerly sought after as the mushrooms which came up after rain in the adjoining horse paddock (now Central School). Usual uses were boiled with the corned beef, baked in the oven or boiled, or if the kids got lucky, roasted in an open fire and eaten with butter and salt, but with the corned beef was the usual way. Lenore.
From David Noel
A trial was done on Bunya Glace here in WA some years ago. The trial was done by a student in the food technology department of a local university, encouraged by us. Bunyas are somewhat similar to chestnuts in composition, hence the attempt to make a product similar to marron glace chestnuts preserved by prolonged boiling in sugar solution.
I thought the resulting product was quite good. Marron glace is very expensive and a similar product based on bunyas could have a niche market. Mind you, in France the marron glace makers have their own jealously guarded recipes, so there would certainly be scope to refine such a product.
Syzygium suborbiculare - illust from `Fruits of the Rainforest'
Driving through the woodlands of Cape York, the top end of th Northern Territory, or the Kimberleys of Western Australia, a traveller cant help but notice the beautiful lime green leaves of a large spreading tree. The tree is
Syzygium suborbiculare, often described in books as the Red Bush Apple or Forest Satinash, but is more commonly known as the Lady Apple. This tree is one of the lilly pillys in the family Myrtaceae, but, unlike most lilly pillys, it is not an inhabitant of rainforests. It has large, broad, leathery leaves - suborbiculare literally means almost round, referring to the leaves and flaky bark. An unusual feature of this tree is that it has a lignotuber: an underground storage organ which allows it to regenerate following fire or being chopped down, much like Eucalyptus.
The Lady Apple can be seen as a large spreading tree up to 12 metres in height, or a low gnarled shrub in exposed coastal areas. On the sand dunes around Cape Flattery it even occurs as a spreading prostrate scrambler, growing side by side with the famous prostrate variety of Grevillea pteridifolia. The flowering period is from July to October. However, flowering gets later in the season the further south you head from the tip of Cape York. The flowers are huge white brushes of long white stamens, which are short-lived, but nevertheless very spectacular.
The fruits. which ripe n October-December, have to be the biggest attraction. In harsh, windswept areas the fruits are not much bigger than 3cm in diameter, but under the right conditions are nearly 10 cm. They are a dark blood red in colour and strongly ribbed, unlike most lilly pillys. The flesh is firm and crunchy and can easily be broken away from the single large seed. The flesh has a sharp pleasant tang and is greatly revered by all bush travellers who know it. Apart from eating huge numbers of fruit, Aborigines are known to use the fruit for colds and chest congestion and squeeze the juice and pulp into their ears to relieve earache.
The late Robert Tucker showed me two plants growing at Anderson Park one of Townsville's Botanic Gardens), which he told me was a natural hybrid between Syzygium suborbiculare and the White Apple S. forte ssp. forte which occurs in the Cooktown region. The fruit were just as large (a bit smaller than a tennis ball), but a light pink colour with only faint ribbing. The flesh was, to my way of thinking, very similar to the taste of a dried apricot. Absolutely delicious. I have never had a high opinion of hybrid plants. However, I think this one could be regarded as a commercially viable fruit crop.
Because of its ability to tolerate salt spray, drought and fire, while giving good shade, beautiful flowers and exquisite fruit, I believe this tree should be seen more often in cultivation, especially in the dry tropics.
Reprinted from The Native Gardener, Newsletter of SGAP Townsville Branch, March 1996
Flowering patterns of Australian acacia spp. (Excel - .xlsx)