A stark leafless tree during the dry season, brilliant green during the wet season, it is held in high regard by the Aborigines of the Kimberley Region who call it Larrkardiy.
There are 3000-odd boab trees that are dotted around the Kimberley region with one at Derby listed as 1500 years old. The trees have been providing shelter, food and medicine for our First Nations people for thousands of years.
Boab nut season runs from March to October and is a valuable source of medicinal ingredients. The high vitamin C and calcium content of young leaves and especially the seed-pod pith, makes it a valued commodity. The bark is also used to treat fever, as it contains properties similar to quinine.
Inside the hard case of a boab nut, there is a creamy-white fruit in which the seeds are nestled. This dry powdery fruit pulp, with its tangy citrus flavour, has six times more vitamin C than oranges, and twice as much calcium as milk. It is also rich in other vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, and PP), minerals (phosphorus, iron, sodium, zinc, magnesium and potassium), dietary fibre (soluble and insoluble) and amino acids*.
Boab Powder, high in vitamins, iron, zinc, protein, potassium, calcium and dietary fibre, is 100% Western Australian boab.
Take two teaspoons of Boab Powder:
SPRINKLE… onto fruit, cereal, yoghurt & pancakes
BAKE… into bread, brownies, cakes & cookies
STIR… into porridge, desserts, soups, hot water & lemon
SHAKE… into water, fruit juice, coconut water & salad dressings
BLEND… into sauces, milkshakes, smoothies & ice creams
I first started experimenting with ingredients native to Australia in 1997 but it wasn’t until around 10 years later after a chance meeting with Mike and Gayle Quarmby , creators of Outback Pride, at the Adelaide Showgrounds that I recognised an opportunity to promote and market our unique foods. “All we need to do now is to get people to eat this stuff” Gayle told me. It was a lightbulb moment.
Taste Australia Bush Food Shop started by stocking the products that Outback Pride had developed thus far. They included jams, sauces, cordials and seasoning mixes. It evolved into the largest range of dried ingredients I could source and with it came much experimentation in the kitchen. Today we have over 40 different ingredients plus a wide range of value added products.
As Co-Vid19 altered our lifestyles I decided to take advantage and document my culinary creations. It was tricky to remember to write them down because I incorporate native ingredients without thinking about it.
CLICK HERE FOR the first edition of MY Bush Food Kitchen- a free downloadable PDF
A low-lying shrub with broad, velvety leaves, now known as the Grewia savannicola is about to find its way to the Aussie table. The fruit generally has two seeds that are fused together side by side, covered in soft hairs, that hang down on a short stalk.
The bush, found across northern Australia and first discovered by Europeans near the Endeavour River in far north Queensland, has long been used by Indigenous people to treat dysentery and diarrhoea.
Drop a handful of fruit in 500ml water, boil for 10 minutes, strain and drink. A delicious brew.
Rice water has amazing hair benefits. A Chemist’s study found that applying rice water on hair can reduce friction between the hair strands as well as improve hair elasticity. Rice water has a carbohydrate called inositol which help can repair damaged hair.
Rinsing or washing your hair with rice water will decrease breakage and make hair more manageable and healthier: the amino acids in the rice water strengthen the hair at its root to promote stronger, thicker new growth.
Rice water has many skin applications as well because of its cooling and soothing effects on the skin, it is an effective ointment to cool off the inflamed skin.
Rice water is loaded with antioxidants in it which help to prevent or fade age-spots, ease skin irritations and give you soft, glowing, clear skin. By leaving it on the skin, it is said to offer mild protection from the sun.
Fermented rice water is rice water that is left to ferment and has gone slightly sour. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins, vitamin E, and traces of pitera, a substance produced during the fermentation process.
You can use fermented rice water as a face cleanser or a skin toner. The nutrients in the fermented rice water can help shrink pores, reduce fine lines, and tighten and brighten your skin – this is a perfect recipe to look radiant and youthful.
Fermentation lowers the pH of the liquid, and this is similar to our hair’s pH, which is also on the lower side (slightly acidic). So, this slightly acidic pH plus the added nutrients from the fermentation process help restore hair’s pH balance, nourish hair follicles and improve the overall condition of hair.
To make rice water rinse half a cup of rice in a cup of water then, place the rice in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of water. Let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Swirl it around or lightly knead it until the water turns cloudy. This will help the vitamins and minerals seep into the water, creating a nourishing rinse for your hair and skin.
Now strain out the rice water into a clean bowl. Your rice water is ready to use.
To make Fermented Rice Water Prepare as above and then leave it at room temperature for a day or until it turns slightly sour (it has started to ferment). It can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, depending on how warm it is. So the warmer the room temperature the faster the fermentation process.
Fermented rice water is quite potent, so you may need to dilute it with a cup or two of warm water before use. Adjust according to your hair’s needs, use more for dry hair and less for oily hair.
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Like many lands, Australia is a multi-cultural society enjoying food from varying cultures but until recent times our very own naturally occurring foods have been overlooked. Although much of this continent looks barren and infertile, there is an abundance of food and this collection of seasonings aims to bring attention to some of the ingredients endemic to our Pacific Ocean home.
Bush Tomato Seasoning is perfect for pizzas, pasta, salsa, sauces, seafood, vegetables and casseroles. It can be used in many dishes where a dash of spicy tomato is required. It has the right amount of bush tomato to balance the bitterness of bush tomato. Ingredients: Australian Tomato, Sea Salt, Bush Tomato, Aniseed Myrtle, Mountain Pepper, Paprika and Garlic
Desert Fire Seasoning adds a bit of bite to any dish. Ingredients: Saltbush, Chilli, Sea Salt, Mountain Pepper, Lemon Aspen, Garlic and Ginger.
Desert Flakes Seasoning to be used as seasoning, in sauces and casseroles or as a sprinkle over bread, meat, vegetables or pasta dishes. Ingredients: Saltbush, Sea Salt, Bush Tomato, Wattleseed, Lemon Myrtle, Mountain Pepper, and garlic.
Swagmans Salt is used in breads, salsas, salad, tomato based dishes. Ingredients: Sea Salt, Native Basil, Sea Parsley, Native Thyme , Saltbush & Mountain Pepper.
Tropical Pepperberry Sea Salt Use it as a rub or to add a kick to any dish. Particularly nice sprinkled over sweet ripe tomatoes and smashed avocado. Ingredients: Sea salt, Mountain pepper and Lemon Aspen
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Used both as an ornamental as well as a bush tucker plant the cool climate Mountain Pepper produce both a leaf and a berry. The leaf provides a mild pepper taste but the berry has an unexpected zing. Just when you think they are sweet their kick begins. To some it could be quite hot.
Pepperberries are more versatile than conventional peppercorn, able to be used in sweet and savoury dishes. The leaves, stems and berries have an aromatic peppery taste producing approx. 3 times the anti-oxidants of blueberries.
Pepperberry not only adds depth to a casserole or slow cooker, it imparts a beautiful rich burgundy colour to the dish.
Slow cooked Pepperberry Wagyu (perfect for Winter)
2 small red onions
1 stick of celery
1 red capsicum
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
420gm cubed Wagyu Chuck Beef
1 Tablespoon Pepperberry – coarse ground of whole
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon Bush Tomato
Dice the vegetables and place in the slow cooker, add garlic, beef, Pepperberry, Tomato paste and water. Mix well to combine.
Slow cook for 7 hours.
10 minutes before serving add bush tomato seasoning and salt to taste. Serve with pasta, steamed beans and wild rocket salad.