Bush food tour

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During reconciliation week there were so many wonderful events celebrating Aboriginal culture. My work organised a range of events during the week and of course I couldn’t go past putting my name down to go to the bush food tour held at the Botanic Gardens. Haydyn Bromley from Bookabee tours was our host. He was a very knowledgable guide and we were in very capable hands.

I find bush foods really interesting because there’s alway something new to learn. There are an estimated 30,000 edible plants across the world and people subsist on a tiny fraction of these. Supermarkets seem to sell countless versions of wheat, sugar, corn and rice. It all looks and tastes the same to me. There are so many interesting foods out there and I got to find out about a few more during this tour. Along the way he discussed responsible harvesting and how these plants were part of culture. Some plant highlights from the tour:

  • Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata – edible vermicelli-like core, butterscotch flavoured resin, young whitish parts of leaves chewed to quench thirst, seeds made into damper.
  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis Karransis – animals that lived in the tree were hunted, bees make home in the hollows and give honey, the hollowed out trunks used as shelters.
  • Macadamia tetraphylla – I’d heard there were some trees in the gardens so it was good to finally see where they were.
  • Podocarpus elatus – they were fruiting on the walk and Haydyn described the texture as being like oysters, I like to think they’re more like Turkish delight.
  • Araucaria bidwillii – used as a family home, nuts eaten and also the centrepiece of a festival at harvest time.
  • Cymbopogon ambiguus – used as a tea, particularly to settle the stomach.

Haydyn was such a knowledgable and friendly host and I really hope I get to spend some time walking amongst the plants with him again.

Catching strawberry runners

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Each year a strawberry patch should double in size with runners forming new plants. Generally it’s a good idea to catch the runners before they set up a new home in the patch so it doesn’t become too overgrown. An overgrown patch can decrease strawberry yields. Also, its a good idea to replace your patch every 2 -3 years to keep the plants happy and healthy.

About a month ago when the strawberries were first sending out their runners I grabbed a whole bunch of old pots and filled them with potting mix. Then I pegged the runners to the edge of the pot so the roots would take hold. I gave them a tug today and they have taken root in the pots. Just cut the stem to seperate it from the mother plant and they can be planted now where you want them to go or given away to friends and family.

Growing your own organic strawberries is a easy and much better than eating conventionally grown ones. Apart from tasting no good the conventional ones will always be contaminated with pesticide and fungicide resides. The big commercial Australian growers in Victoria use nearly 30 tonnes of methyl bromide on the 100 million strawberry runners they grow each year for sale in your local hardware store. Methyl bromide has been banned around the world for the last decade because it depletes the ozone layer. Definitely a crop to choose organically grown – better for your health and the environment.

Fig jam

fig

It’s fig season and they’re delicious fresh and in salads and deserts. Our neighbour on one side has two massive trees and we usually get some given to us. They prune them very hard and while they are quite old they aren’t much taller than a person but are very wide. This makes for easy harvesting of the fruit and easy netting. The neighbour on the other side also has two fig trees. The big one is quite tall and the birds tend to get most of those fruit as its really hard to pick from it. The small one is growing over our side of the fence and the fruit is delicious. As well as drying the fruit to preserve, it also makes a lovely jam.

1 kilo figs, peeled and quartered

200 grams sugar

4 tablespoons water

Select figs that are just ripe and are firm. Peel and quarter the figs. Prepare a syrup with the sugar and the water. Add the figs to the boiling syrup and cook on medium heat until gelling stage is reached. Put into sterilised jars and seal the lids. Boil jars for 10 minutes to preserve.

Preserved lemons

lemons

My neighbour dropped over some lemons and cucumbers the other day. I was especially chuffed to hear the story about where they came from. Basically neighbour A has a beautiful garden full of lovely fruit trees and some vegies. Neighbour B next door is a gardener but is always too tired at the end of the day to have a veggie garden but wants one. Neighbour A doesn’t have much room in his own yard for more veggies so he offered neighbour B to put in a veggie patch. Neighbour A runs his hose into neighbour B’s garden and has put in a massive veggie garden and neighbour’s A & B eat the veggies. Neighbour B also has a lemon tree and excess lemons so neighbour A is sharing them around to other neighbours like me. They also had way too many cucumbers so I luckily got some too. My cucumbers got shredded early in the season by my chooks so I have a shortage this year so I was very grateful for them.

Preserved lemons

Sterilise some jars. Wash the lemons well and dry them. Cut off the end of the lemon that was joined to the tree. Then quarter them but leave about 1cm uncut at the other end so that the quarters stay together. Split open and add 1 tablespoon of sea salt in the middle of the lemon. Press the lemons into the jar and push down firmly. Repeat with all the lemons and stuff until the jar is full. Then submerge the lemons with lemon juice. Make sure the lemons are completely submerged, a small sterilised jar can be used to hold the fruit down. Put on lid and seal. Then put jars on a plate or on tray to catch any oozing lemon juice. Open the jar each day for a few days to let out the pressure as it will be fermenting. Store for at least a month before using. It’s ready when the rinds are soft. To use scrape out flesh and just use the rind.

Native Juniper

Hindmarsh Island seems to be covered in Myoporum insulare. While the fruit is edible it does have a strong gin like flavour which puts me right off. Juniper happens to be a key flavour of gin which I think is one of those spirits you either love or hate. There is a small boutique distillery on Kangaroo Island making gin with the the Native Juniper. On all accounts if you are a gin fan they are producing gin that is up there with the worlds best.

Juniper berries are also a traditional ingredient added to sauerkraut. As cabbage season is months away these berries could be preserved for using later on possibly by drying. They could also be used in meat and game recipes as you would use European Juniper berries.

 

Purslane pesto

puslane

Purslane has been a real revolution for me in the garden. In the hot Adelaide summer it will grow itself and provide a generous crop of crisp nourishing greens that can be eaten raw or cooked. I look forward to it coming so I can add it to stir fries, salads, pesto, and any recipe calling for a leafy green. When adding to salads I tend to strip the leaves off the stems and just eat the leaves as the stems can get tough. When cooking I leave the stems on. Once you identify purslane you will see it growing everywhere. Careful for the poison look alike that drips white sap when you cut it. Purslane has a lovely fresh flavour that is cross between celery and apple. Stick to the purslane growing in your garden or areas you know haven’t been sprayed with poison or dog wee. For this recipe I cut off the top 5 cm of growth stems and all. The flowers and seeds can also be eaten so leave them in when using in recipes.

Purslane pesto recipe

1 bunch basil

Purslane, large handful (Portulaca oleracea)

200gm raw macadamia nuts

1 teaspoon homemade chilli paste (or 1 clove crushed garlic if you prefer)

50ml tamari

100ml olive oil

Add the basil, purslane, chilli, tamari and oil to food blender. I use a little food blender that attaches to my stick blender. Toast the nuts in hot pan for a few minutes. When toasted add the nuts to the rest of the ingredients in the blender. Pulse on low speed until well combined into a paste. Store in clean jar in the fridge.

 

Guide to South Australian produce

This little guide has been put together to make shopping and sourcing local South Australian produce a little easier. This not an exhaustive list just a place to get started.

Fruit and vegetables

Nothing gets more local than your backyard. Growing, buying and eating seasonal produce means eating food at it’s best. Swapping and sharing excess produce among friends and family builds community and reduces food miles. Step away from the major supermarkets and you’ll find most smaller fruit and vegetable shops will have a great range of local produce.

Spring

Apples, aparagus, asian greens, avocados, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cumquat, grapefuit, lemons, loquats, mandarins, mulberries, blood oranges, mandarins, parsnip, peas, potato, pears, pumpkin, rhubarb, silverbeet, spinach, strawberries.

Summer

Apricots, basil, broad beans, capsicums, cucumber, cherries, eggplant, figs, garlic, grapes, kale, lettuce, mulberries, nectarines,  onions, pak choy, peaches, potatoes, purslane, quandong, ruby salt bush, silverbeet, snow peas, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini.

Autumn

Apples, asian greens, amaranth, beetroot, blackberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, capsicums, carrots, celeriac, celery, cauliflower, chesnuts, chia, chicory, corn, eggplant, feijoas, figs, grapes, kale, kiwi fruit, kohlrabi, leeks, lemons, limes, olives, onions, orange, macadamia, medlars, parsnip, passionfruit, peas, pears, persimmon, pistachio, plum, potato, prickly pear fruit, pumpkin, purslane, quince, raspberries,  rhubarb, rock melon, sauce tomatoes, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, strawberries, swede, sweet corn, turnip, walnuts, wattleseed, watermelon, white sapote, zucchini.

Winter

Avocado, apples, asian greens, beetroot, borlotti bean, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chilli, cuquats, fennel, garlic, grapefruit, horseradish, honey, jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, lemons, limes, mandarins, navel oranges, okra, olives, onions, oranges, pears, persimmon, pomegranate, quinces, shallot, silverbeet, spinach, swede, rhubarb, tangelos, tangerines, turnip, zucchini

Dairy

All of these businesses source milk from South Australian dairy farms.

Alexandrina cheese company – milk, cheddar, gouda, edam, romano, pepato, feta, ricotta, creme fraiche, yogurt

Barossa valley cheese company – brie, camembert, haloumi, feta

B.-d. farm paris creek – biodynamic organic milk, yogurt, cheese and butter

Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company – milk and yogurt

La casa del formaggio – bocconcini, mozarella, goats milk cheeses, haloumi, ricotta, parmesan, pecorino, marscapone, and cream

Udder delights cheese – range of goats milk cheeses, brie, camembert, blue vein

Woodside cheese wrights – big range of soft cheeses

For the carnivores

Talk to your local butcher or fishmonger about where they source their meat. Some businesses focusing on local:

Barossa fine foods butchers – South Australian turkey, chicken, eggs, lamb, pork, beef, sausages and small goods like ham and bacon.

Bruce’s meat and poultry – pasture grazed beef and sow stall free pork. Free range turkeys for christmas.

Cappo seafood – fish primary sourced from SA waters.

Feast fine foods butchers – South Australian beef, chicken, pork, wild game, veal and small goods

Ferguson Australia – selling SA fish and lobster.

Some of the fish that can be caught in South Australian waters:

Abalone, blue groper, blue swimmer snapper, bream, crabs, flathead, garfish, king george whiting, king prawns, marron, mulloway, mullet, mussels, oysters, rock lobster, salmon trout, sardines, salmon, squid, whiting, yellow fin whiting, yellow tail king fish.

Pantry

Nuts

Almonds – South Australia grow 60% of Australia’s production of almonds and can easily be sourced.

Chesnuts – are grown in the Adelaide hills

Pecans – small plantings around SA.

Pistachios – mainly grown Waikerie and Pinnaroo, small organic farm in Gawler.

Walnuts – commercially grown in Adelaide hills and riverland but also grows well on Adelaide plains.

Grains and legumes

Four leaf milling – some grains are grown on their SA farms and other Australian biodynamic and organic farms.

Laucke flour – sells Kangaroo Island flour

L’Abruzzese pasta – made using only SA and Australian wheat

Pangkarra Foods – flour, pasta, chickpeas and faba beans

Oil

Olive oil – South Australian olive oil can easily be sourced.

Canola oil – Canola is SA’s third largest crop but the bulk of the crop is exported.

Safflower, linseed and sunflower – also grown in SA for oil but in significantly less quantities.

Wine

South Australians are spoilt for choice with grapes mainly grown in Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa, Clare, and Adelaide Hills.

Other staples

Murray river salt, Nelshaby capers, pickled nasturtium pods, most herbs grown year round, Kalangadoo apple cider vinegar, Beerenburg jams chutneys and sauces, Angus Park dried fruit, pickled olives, honey, carob, Adelaide mushrooms, Outback Pride sauces herbs and jams, Matjarra herbs and chillis.

Farmers markets

Adelaide showgrounds farmers market

Adelaide hills farmers markets

Barossa farmers market

Farm direct markets -Salisbury, Lightsview and Gawler

Gepps Cross drive- in market

Mount pleasant farmers market

The market shed on holland

Willunga farmers market

Eating out

Brighton jetty bakery

Coriole

Fino Willunga

Good life organic pizza

Lenzerheide

The Kings Head pub

The Locavore

The Seasonal Garden Cafe

The White House Harndorf