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Australian Bush Superfoods


By: By Lily Alice and Thomas O’Quinn published by Hardie Grant Books (RRP $29.99)

In Indigenous Australian culture, 'Country' is family, the giver and sustainer of life, a land of bountiful resources to be respected and protected, a land of Dreaming; it is all living things. For at least 50,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived on this ancient land, many of these communities in its vast arid interior. Yet this seemingly inhospitable continent is home to some of the world's most diverse edible flora, found across the regions, from desert to rainforest. Many of those unique species boast nutritional and medicinal properties not found anywhere else on the planet. The Kakadu plum, native to the tropical woodlands of the Northern Territory and Western Australia, has unmatched vitamin C content. Bush tomatoes or kutjera, found in the deserts of central Australia, are antioxidant rich and a plentiful, portable high-energy hit. Knowledge of these superfoods and others, their astounding health benefits and their many uses, has been passed down in Aboriginal culture for thousands of years.

By definition, superfoods are nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Many of Australia's native bushfoods contain nutritional qualities that not only qualify them as superfoods, but in some cases outshine the more commonly known forms. As people become more interested in healthy eating, many of Australia's bushfoods are finding their way onto the pages of cookbooks, food and health blogs, and into the kitchens of top restaurants all over the world.

The Australian Bush Superfoods book (Hardie Grant RRP$29.99) introduces Australians to the edible natural wonders their country has to offer and provides recipes and inspiration on how to use these exciting new ingredients in your kitchen. Fresh warrigal greens bought at the farmers market, macadamia nuts from your local grocery store, the lemon myrtle bush growing in your very own backyard - the foods that nourished and sustained the first peoples of this land continue to grow and thrive all around us.

LEMON ASPEN

The beautiful pale-yellow fruit of this small rainforest tree earned the species name acidula - 'slightly acid' in Latin - for its deliciously sharp citrus aroma and flavour, characteristic of the common lemon. The intense flavour of lemon aspen sees it used in a growing range of gourmet products such as juices, jellies and dressings. Endemic to the rainforests and tablelands of tropical north Queensland, lemon aspen is one of around 20 species of Acronychia native to Australia and one of 44 species worldwide. Though not widely cultivated, lemon aspen is grown in some small-scale orchards along the east coast of Australia with the involvement of local Aboriginal communities.
The Indigenous peoples of Australia traditionally enjoyed the fruits of the lemon aspen picked straight from the tree for their fresh, zesty flavour. They also extracted the juice by crushing the fruit, drinking it to boost immunity and soothe sore throats. It also served as a natural antiseptic and was applied to sores and boils.
Packed with antioxidants and a rich source of vitamins B and C, the fruit of the lemon aspen also contains compounds known to encourage skin regeneration, which has made it a widely used ingredient in anti-aging and skin repair products. Lemon aspen is also a valuable source of folate, zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium and phosphorus.
Lemon aspen works well in place of regular lemons, although not a lot of the fruit is needed due to its intensity. Lemon aspen makes delicious jams, fruit curds, dessert sauces and tarts and is available in fresh, frozen and juice form. The fresh fruit will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks, while the frozen form will keep for up to two years.

Click here for the recipe for Lemon Aspen Slice

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