We’re teaming up again for the second in a series of blogs celebrating amazing Australian ingredients in conjunction with Malynka Williams at The Taste Australia Bush Food Shop. Each month we will feature a different herb/bush tucker food, I will provide some interesting background information about it, as normal for our blog, Malynka will provide the pictures and the herb/bush food itself, one or other of us will make the recipe. Today we are exploring Strawberry gum and have a couple of delicious recipes for you to try.
The Strawberry Gum (Eucalyptus olida), also known as the Forestberry, is a medium-sized tree of about 20m, which is very rare, growing only in the woodlands of the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales in Eastern Australia. Consequently, it has been designated threatened in the wild but is gradually becoming more common as a cultivated variety due to its essential oils and its use as a spice.
The flowers of Strawberry Gum are cream in colour and its leaves begin life as dull, oval and about 7cm long but on reaching adulthood become glossy, lanceolate, about 17cm long and intensely aromatic. The leaves are highly anti-oxidant and are antifungal and antibiotic, assisting with the microflora balance of the gut. The adult leaves are distilled to make essential oils which are used as a flavouring as well as in perfumery.
The leaf oil contains very high levels of Methyl cinnamate (98%) and the yield is high at 2-6% of fresh leaf. Methyl cinnamate is used commercially as a perfumery component but also as a flavour enhancer to sweet or savoury dishes. It enhances the flavour of berries, tomato based sauces, dairy or coconut milk dishes and is particularly good when combined with chocolate. It makes wonderful truffles, as well as aromatic sauces for poultry, pork, lamb or beef.
Its versatility is extraordinary because it can be combined with chilli in seafood recipes, or sprinkled over sweet potato before roasting, equally it can be paired with vanilla bean to make a lovely compote of poached fruit. It can be added to a cheesecake base, a fruit crumble topping, or a muesli energy bar, or used to make a herbal tea infusion. Iced Strawberry Gum tea is also a great base for a fruity cocktail.
In bush tucker lore it is said to make a great cure for crocodile when preparing it for cooking but our recipes today are for the sweeter tooth since they are for pavlova and truffle!
Strawberry Gum Custard Meringue Pavlova
- 8 whole dried Strawberry Gum leaves or 2 tbsp dried crushed leaves
- 6 free range egg yolks
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup milk
- 150gm sugar
- 6 free range egg whites
- 300g caster sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 3 tsp strawberry gum powder
For the custard
Heat milk, cream, sugar and leaves in a saucepan until boiling point. Turn off heat and allow flavours to infuse for minimum of 15 minutes (the longer the better). Remove the leaves and return the flavoured milk to a clean saucepan. Whisk in the eggs and increase the heat slowly, whisking constantly until mixture thickens to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Take off heat and cool. Refrigerate.
For The Meringue
Cut out a circle (about 20–25cm) of baking paper. Place on a baking tray. Preheat oven to 100C
Place the egg white into a mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ingredients and combine.
Pile the mixture into the baking paper circle and spread evenly to the edges. (A dip in the middle helps contain the custard filling).Bake for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven and let it cool completely in the oven before removing. Assemble just before serving. Fill with custard and serve with seasonal fruit (shown here with current season fresh Cherries and Davidsons Plums – the tartiness of the plum cuts through the sweetness)
Strawberry Gum Chocolate Truffles
- 200g Premium Milk chocolate
- 2 tsp dried Strawberry Gum powder
- 1 cup pitted dates
- ⅔ cup dry roasted ground Macadamia nuts
- ½ cup desiccated coconut mixed with a tsp strawberry gum powder
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Process dates and macadamias until smooth. Add melted chocolate and Strawberry Gum. Cool mixture in fridge. Shape into walnut sized balls and roll in strawberry gum coconut mix. Store in a clean jar in the fridge.
More about Malynka
Malynka is a third generation Australian who was raised on the edge of the South Australian desert. Her ancestors migrated from England as free settlers around 1852. The area in which she grew up was home to a large population of first Australians as well as immigrants from Greece, Italy, Poland, Lebanon and Germany. Malynka’s interest in bush food began in the mid 1990’s but it was not until early 2008 that she could see what a positive step the Bush Food Industry could be in helping the traditional land owners. Many foods are either grown or wild harvested by Aboriginal people and the reward for their efforts gives them purpose, pride and encourages the young ones to learn about their culture.
The aim of Taste Australia Bush Food Shop is to assemble as many different bush foods as possible and experiment by using them in various cuisines. With her work with the Aborigines, Malynka has discovered tastes which are now indispensable in her kitchen, numerous kitchens of her fellow Australians and now, thanks to their blogs, introducing us to Australian Bush Food, ours! You can follow Taste Australia Bush Food Shop on Facebook too.
All photos reproduced with the kind permission of Malynka Williams