Foraging w/ Orana, Adelaide

 My trip so far in Australia has been an unorganised one, with no real plans and full flexibility to do as I so wish should something interesting arise. That's how I wanted it to be, organised disorganisation, if that's not too oxymoronic. This internship was the exception though, I'd had this planned and confirmed long before I set off from the U.K. 
 A couple of the guys who I interned with at Noma work there, and so said I should get in touch with the head chef and pay them a visit. I did just that. Orana offer a 24 course tasting menu based on native Australian ingredients, with an emphasis on seasonal and foraged produce. Now I'm pretty clued up with my British wild plants, but, before this week, had very little idea as to what one can find down under. I'd bought a guide book in Sydney, but it's tough to ID a plant from one photo in a small book, particularly when from totally alien plant families and environments.
 This last week has been perfect for correcting my aforementioned lack of knowledge, and aside from being fascinating and a lot of fun, it has given me a good starting point to being able to confidently chomp my way through Australia's flora.

Here's a round of up what I found;

Native Lilac (Hardenbergia violacea)

With only a very subtle sweet flavour, these flowers in the pea family are used as a garnish.

Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa)

Although the leaves are also edible, we were after the small fruits, which vary in colour from yellow to orange to red and everything in between, depending on the plant. The berries have an unusual sweet, fruity taste. Used mainly as a garnish, they have a hard central 'pip' that is somewhat unpleasant if eating the berries in profusion.

 Blite (Suaeda spp.)

Similiar to the sea blite found in the U.K., though the different varieties of blite here can be found far inland. Leaves are succulent and can be salty depending on where they're growing. 

Iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)

One of the most delicious wild greens I've ever tasted. Not native to Australia, it originates from Africa and southern Europe. It grows in coastal dune systems and has a fantastic crunch and subtle salinity, with not a hint of bitterness. This is due to the glistening bladder cells which give the plant the 'ice' part of the name. These cells, although not particularly visible on the picture below, can be the size of a ball bearing and function as a water reserve, giving it that incredible crunch and freshness. 

Brush Cherries (Syzygium australe)

A rainforest tree native to eastern Australia, we found this cultivated in gardens around the Adelaide suburbs, in both hedge and tree form. The berries have an unpleasant soapy taste unless completely ripe, when they have interesting floral notes and a watery crunch. The large pip inside must be removed.

Tasmanian Mountain Pepper (Tasmania lanceolata)

Berries and leaves both have a pungent peppery taste, though there are no berries at this time of year. Found naturally in temperate rainforest of Tasmania and south east Australia. We picked this from a farm growing native Australian food plants. 

Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)

A strong lemon scent and flavour, used as a tea or flavouring in desserts, oils, with fish etc. Again picked at the same farm as the Tasmanian Mountain Pepper, though commonly found in front gardens and urban areas in Adelaide. Probably the most commonly used native food plant in Australia. 

Blood Lime

Hybrid between the native Red Finger Lime (Citrus australasia var. sanguinea) and the Rangpur (lemandarin). Has been farmed commercially in Australia since 2004. They have a much sweeter flesh and skin than normal limes and can be eaten whole. So delicious.

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

Same as you find in the UK, almost certainly an introduced species. Much more peppery than the cultivated stuff.

Plum Pine / Illawarra Plum (Podocarpus elatus)

The fruit is the larger, darker part and the seed is the smaller, lighter blue part. The fruit tastes like a mucilaginous plum and the top like resinous pine bark. The seed is usually discarded. Native to the sub-tropical eastern New South Wales and Queensland, these had been planted along one road in central Adelaide.

Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum)

The leaves have the most incredible flavour, akin to kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass. Makes the most delicious oil. Endemic to Western Australia, this plant is found in gardens across Adelaide. 

Samphire (Salicornia spp. and Tecticornia spp.)

The fronds are familiar in appearance to those found in the UK, but the plants themselves take on a different form here. Whereas each frond tends to grow individually and low to the ground in salt marshes in the UK, the Samphire here grows in bushes and is not strictly limited to wet, coastal areas. I've found it on clifftops and in great profusion near Lake Eyre due to the saline soil conditions. 

Pigface / Karkalla (Carpobrotus rossii)

Native to Australia, this coastal plant was introduced to the UK, which we now call Hottentot Fig. You can find many different species here, with different colourations and flower types. Young leaves found by the coast have a delicious fresh and salty succulence, older leaves tend to be more bitter and mucilaginous. 

Saffron Milkcaps (Lactarious deliciosus)

An introduced European species, these are now the most commonly eaten species of wild mushroom in Australia due to the large stands of pine that have been planted since European settlers first arrived.  The latin epithet deliciousus shows that they've been regarded as a good edible for quite some time. 

Share this:



Post a Comment