They say that one of the best ways to understand and experience a culture is through the food. In Australia, you’ll find a lot of herbs and spices that are common around the world. However, not many would know that the country also has its own indigenous seasonings.
Australian herbs and spices are a great way to taste the land’s rich history and culture. These also represent the historical journey of settlement and resettlement throughout the territory. To up your kitchen know-how, we’re talking about some of Australia’s home-grown herbs and spices that you can easily add to your pantry.
Commonly available ground and roasted, this spice has a flavour profile similar to hazelnut. It has a nutty flavour with coffee and chocolate undertones that are a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes.
This spice can be from any of the 120 species of Australian Acacia that the Aborigines used as food. The seeds can be used green (and cooked) or dried (and ground). On its own, you can use in ice cream and certain desserts; when added to other spices (such as coriander), you can use it on barbecued meats and full-flavoured seafood (such as tuna and salmon).
Fun fact: flavoursThe golden wattle, which is a type of acacia, is Australia’s national flower. The acacias got the local name “wattle” as early settlers used its trunk and branches (along with clay and mud) to build houses, a method known as “wattle and daub” in Europe.
One of the more popular spice for flavors , Lemon Myrtle is often referred to as the “Queen of Lemon Herbs.” Often in its dried whole leaf form, this spice is native to Australia’s coastal regions and has a citrus fragrance and flavour, making it an ideal substitute for fresh lemongrass.
Lemon Myrtle is like a combination of lemon verbena, lemongrass, and kaffir lime, with a hint of eucalyptus. It’s great to add to certain bread, pasta, fish, tea, and even milk-based dishes.
Fun fact: The plant’s botanical name, Backhousiacitriodora, comes from James Backhouse, an English botanist and missionary for the Quaker church in Australia.
Forestberry, which comes from a tree of the same name, is also known as strawberry gum and is a type of Eucalyptus that grows in Western Australia. It has a sweet strawberry and passionfruit flavour and aroma, with a hint of caraway and cumin. It goes well with fruits (fruit salads, tropical and stone fruits) and many desserts. Add a pinch of it ice creams, compotes, and creamy dressings for a flavour punch.
Fun fact: The Forestberry is considered “bushtucker”, or bush food – used by indigenous Australians living in ‘the bush’.
There are plenty more herbs and spices that are uniquely Australian and many more that can trace its roots back here. This means many new flavors await us in our cooking.
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