Australia is truly an amazing corner of the world. Did you know that our ecosystem houses over one million species of flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth? Let's take some time to celebrate the amazing plants in our natural environment.
Australia is home to a diverse array of plant species, many of which have been used by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. These plants have been an important part of Indigenous cuisine and have historically served a number of medicinal uses. Some are anti-inflammatory, some are packed with vitamins - all are uniquely flavourful. Nowadays these native herbs are seeing a resurgence in Australian cuisine. Taste, health, and a greater focus on sustainability - really, what's not to love? Here are some of the most popular edible Australian herbs and their culinary uses:
One of the most well-known native Australian herbs. The leaves of this tree have a strong lemon aroma and are used to add a delightful citrus flavour to a variety of dishes. The uses for lemon myrtle are truly endless: they can be used to make tea, added to marinades and dressings, or even used to flavour desserts such as ice cream and sorbet. Lemon myrtle leaves are also a popular ingredient in spice blends, rubs and seasoning.
Mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) is native to the woodlands and rainforests of the South-East. it is used for its unique flavor, which has a combination of black pepper, juniper and spice notes. Both leaves and berries may be used fresh or dried to add a spicy, peppery flavour to marinades, rubs, salad dressings and sauces. In the spring, this pepper plant produces small yellow flowers, which may be enjoyed fresh in salads, or as a delightful garnish on a variety of dishes. Lastly, when the berries are dried, this native plant makes a tasty, spicy alternative to black pepper. Place them in the freezer to keep them fresh for longer.
The leaves of the native Australian herb, Warrigal greens, are also edible and are commonly found in bush tucker. They are similar in taste to spinach, with a fresh and grassy flavour. These greens thrive in Aussie soil, meaning that they are very easy to care for, though they can be very fast spreaders. Warrigal greens are widely used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, and frittatas.
Also called the gubinge, billygoat plum, green plum, salty plum, murunga, mador and plenty more. The kakadu plum has burst onto the global scene in recent years as a superfood. Not only is it the highest natural source of vitamin C in the world (being 50 times more rich in Vitamin C than oranges), but it also contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It has a mild tart flavour with tones of citrus, and is often used to make jams, jellies and sauces.
The desert quandong is a small desert tree that produces bright red fruits, about 2cm in diameter. With a sweet and tangy flavour, these fruits are often used to make pies, jams, and desserts.
When using native Australian herbs in cooking, it is important to use them in moderation as they can be quite strong in flavour and can overpower other ingredients. It's also important to be mindful of sustainability: only harvest what you need, and be mindful of sourcing these herbs through sustainable channels.
Overall, native Australian herbs offer a unique and delicious way to add flavour and interest to dishes, and are an excellent way to bring a taste of Australia to your cooking