From time to time, we will look at interesting vegetables, berries and fruits that grow naturally in the jungles or other wilderness areas and examine their uses. We need to preserve all our wild areas so that these plants do not disappear. There is no greater expert on this matter than Les Hiddens – the original Bush Tucker Man and I have referred to his army-issued bush tucker maps many times in my life.
Country of origin: Australia
Yes, this is the wattle that is our national flower and that was the inspiration for the green and gold of our Olympic uniforms. Plus Australia presented Queen Elizabeth with a gold wattle brooch when she visited us in the 1950s!
Nobody, though, back then would have thought of eating the seeds of the wattle. Today, it crops up on menus constantly especially in trendy icecream shops.
These varieties of the wattle (Mimosa or acacia) are edible:
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 and parkland these species are abundant. The Ac retinodes – Wirilda is a more tasty variety and is now being planted in large commercial plots for the bush tucker industry.
Acacia seeds have very hard husks and when they fall off the tree, they will last for up to twenty years only germinating after bushfires. If you plant them, soak them in boiling water for a few hours first or alternatively, throw them on the BBQ and then plant after they pop. Because their hard shell also protects the seed during long periods of dormancy on the ground you have to crack through that for the germination to occur. It is generally the first tree back after a bushfire.
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, an interesting coffee is made (similar to but even better than capomo) and can be used as a beverage or as an addition to chocolate or desserts. If only people had known this during the rationing periods of the Depression and WW 2! Perhaps NOW is the time for us to look at the natural edibles in Australia, plant them all over the place and live off the fat of the land.
This edible seed is any of 40 of the original 120+ species of the wattle, the Australian Acacia tree and bush. It was bush tucker for the Aborigines. They would eat them green, roast them or mill them by crushing between large, flat stones and make them into a kind of damper or bush bread which is actually quite tasty.
Wattleseed has evolved from that ancient food source being integrated into a distinctive range of condiments often featured in authentic Australian dishes. Harvested by the Australian Aborigines 6,000 years ago, seeds from the wattle plant were sought out as a versatile and nutritious addition to their diet. Though the plant is a member of the poisonous Acacia species, the Aborigines discovered that there were over forty different edible varieties but nobody seems to know how they did this without dying.
Surprisingly, these are also collected in Mexico and you often see whole families by the side of the road, climbing wild trees and stripping off the wattleseeds.
Wattleseed is high in protein and carbohydrates. Its low glycemic index makes it suited to diabetic foods.
You can flavour coffee with it!
As well, any recipe with hazelnut in it can have wattleseeds substituted.
Acacia seed flour has a high nutritional content is available in all kinds of climates, and tastes good too. Vic Cherikoff (a significant pioneer in the Australian native food industry) developed Wattleseed as a flavouring in 1984 from selected species. It is marketed commercially and an ingredient in ice cream, biscuits, muesli, desserts, chocolates and bread and used by chefs in sauces and in whipped cream and other dairy desserts because of its pretty appearance. Some even put its roasted powder on the top of cappuccino. Trendy chefs have seized on it as something unusual to spice up their menus. There is even a beer (Wattle Seed Ale).
The taste is rich and nutty and suited to sweet or savoury dishes.
This is a seed that can legitimately be harvested for free! Nobody would, I am sure, mind, if freegans helped themselves from farmland scrub or forests the way we used to gather mushrooms many years ago. Or from local parks. Just leave no footprints!
You can buy watteseed products at: