Christmas is all about Summer in the southern hemisphere. Whether your silly season flavour is a stinking hot day, breezy arvo or a balmy evening, here are a few simple ways to enjoy some very Australian flavours in your holiday luncheon.
(Pro tip: Try telling your guests you used native ingredients. This can be a great conversation starter!)
Cool drinks with native hints
Water infusions and chilled teas are all the rage throughout the Summer months. For a simple cold drink, fill a jug with water, add a few sticks of Native Lemongrass (Cymbopogon ambiguus) or calyxes of Rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and allow to steep in the fridge for an hour or two. Alternatively, steep your bushfood ingredient in hot water for up to five minutes, before chilling in the fridge.
This works with native fruits as well, though many species won’t ripen in time for Christmas. Still, if you’re game, try experimenting with the natural sweetness of Wild Currant (Antidesma erostre), Ooray (Davidsonia pruriens), Small-leaved Tamarind (Diploglottis campbellii) and Black Apple (Pouteria australis) — though, for stronger, more intense flavours, you might like these fruits better in juices and smoothies.
Table snacks with a bushtucker twist
Unlike seasonal bushtucker fruits and veggies, Australian bush herbs like Native Thyme (Prostanthera incisa) and Mountain Pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) are available to pick throughout the year. This makes the DIY holiday cheese board a prime candidate for giving native ingredients a go.
Try making your own Bush Herb Crusted Goat Cheese and serve with a variety of native produce like locally sourced honeycomb, Desert Lime chutney, Rosella jam, Pickled Lilly Pilly, dried native berries, damper bread, and bush herb crackers.
Spice up your Christmas shortbread with a little Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) powder or finely grated Atherton Ginger (Alpinia caerulea ‘Atherton’), but be warned — really fresh ingredients can be overpowering. Add them in small quantities, tasting as you go. If you’d rather stick to what you know, make your biscuits as per usual, then just top them with crushed Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) or Macadamia nuts and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Other great snacks for the season include Lemon Myrtle Cake, Sandalwood Nut & Jaffa Fudge, Lemongrass Chicken & Warrigal Canapés, pavlova with native bush fruits, damper scones with native fruit jam, and candied quandongs.
Special seafood seasonings
Acidity and sharp flavourings are a great rule of thumb for seasoning seafood. This means you can be as generous as you like with Finger Lime (Citrus australasica), Native Lemongrass (Cymbopogon ambiguus), Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), Desert Lime (Citrus glauca), Atherton Ginger (Alpinia caerulea ‘Atherton’) and Lemon Aspen (Acronychia acidula).
With their naturally salty flavours, you’ll also find success using coastal greens like WA Samphire (Tecticornia lepidosperma), Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia), Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa), Sea Celery (Apium prostratum var. prostratum), Sea Purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) and Seablite (Suaeda australis).
More recipes and ideas
Bushfoods represent a rich and vibrant history in Australia’s culture — one that’s existed for thousands of years. The bushfood movement is growing, and we want to make it easy for everyday people to become a part of it.
We’ve put together an e-book of our favourite recipes using Australian native ingredients, featuring contributions from some of Australia’s leading chefs — including all the recipes from our website plus more, covering entrees, mains, desserts and more, along with a few basics like drying your own herbs and making your own jam.
You can order via our homepage now. Hope you enjoy it.