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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Native Aussie Edibles




Bush Tomato (Solanum centrale)

Nicknamed "desert raisin" because of its sultana-like appearance when ripe, the bush tomato is a native Australian plant that like the full sun and has low water requirements.

It has a strong spicy and slightly bitter aftertaste and as such is most recommended for curries. Also called "Kutjera", and it is one of the 6 edible wild species out of 100 in Australia. This needs to be cut back hard in winter, not too much humus, but add potash as it starts to flower.










Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia) or "old man's saltbush" is an interesting tasting plant. Its name "atriplex" is derived from the Latin word which meant "a plant substitute for spinach". True enough, fresh leaves are great and can grow big enough to make wraps, or in salads, or as a leafy bed to grilled meat and vegetables. The leaves can also be dried and use as you would dried herbs - with bread, pasta, etc. Indigenous Australians used to collect the minute seeds which are the ground and roasted for damper.









Samphire (Tecticronia verrucosa) is endemic to Australia and is a distant relative of rock samphire, its European cousin that grows along the coast of the UK. It has long been used in stir fries or salads. This plant also loves the salty soil, likes the heat and has minimum fertilizing requirements. This variety can be occasionally watered with a saline solution to enhance flavor, and can be harvested as soon as the leaf spikes have grown to 10cm or more.
















Patience is a virtue that I usually easily run out of - hopefully this time I'd get busy doing other things while waiting for these yummy treats to grow so that I can give them my own version of TLC :)


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