Acacia (Mimosaceae Family)
Wattleseed has to be the
unsung hero of the Australian Native Food industry. The Acacias
with their enormous diversity of species and forms cover the length
and breadth of the Australian continent. Although not all Acacias
are suitable for human consumption, they have been a mainstay in
the diet of Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. The
wattle flower is the well known emblem of Australia, and is
represented in the green and gold worn by Australian athletes.
Several species of
Acacias are more palatable and commercially viable, these being; Ac
victoriae - Prickly Acacia; Ac. sophorae - Coastal Wattle; Ac
retinodes - Wirilda; Ac coriacea - Dogwood; Ac murrayana - Colony
Wattle; and Ac aneura - Mulga. In their natural habitats these
species are plentiful, and because of this, they have been mainly
harvested in the wild. The most sought after wattleseed is the Ac
retinodes - Wirilda, which is now being planted in large commercial
plots for the bushfood industry.
The seeds of the Acacias
have very hard husks, and when they fall to the ground, will last
for up to 20 years in their natural environment, usually only
germinating after bushfires. Because this hard outer casing also
protects the seed during long periods of dormancy on the ground,
Wattleseed has provided indigenous Australians with a rich source
of protein and carbohydrate in times of drought. The seed was
crushed into flour between flat grinding stones and cooked into
cakes or damper. Even the green seeds of some species were eaten
after baking in the hot coals.
Roasted ground Wattleseed has a diverse number of uses in the
kitchen, from baking to thickening of sauces and casseroles, to ice
cream. By dark-roasting Wattleseed, the most delightful aroma of
nutty fresh roasted coffee is released and can be used as a
beverage or as an addition to chocolate or desserts.