By Lynnie Stein / August 7, 2021

Foraging Adventure

🏍️ pannier full of treasure.

We are home from our adventures. 

First we ferment the foraged treasure

A simple preparation that transform’s already tasty wild foods into something truly delicious and even better for you than the original and stores our holiday memories for many years of tasting on our plates.

 Better still you don’t need to go to the shops for ingredients.

Fermentation is the oldest, simplest and arguably tastiest means of preservation known to man. There isn’t a culture that doesn’t have a fermented preparation near the heart of its food culture – think kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, salsa, pesto, beer, cheese, kefir … the list is endless. 

Many peep’s seem to be happy to spend money on expensive “probiotic” drinks and powders, under some vague understanding that they are good for them, balking at the idea of fermenting plants. Stepping from a world governed by “use by” dates and built-in food-waste to one where natural flora and bacteria are encouraged to “pre-digest” our food is an understandably big step. But it is an important and hugely rewarding step and I urge anyone to take it for gastronomic, health and even spiritual reasons! It is well worth remembering that humans are not one creature, but complex array of mutually beneficial organisms – especially when it comes to digestion.

Foraging is a great way to get free food

It is also a great way to become more intimately connected with where you live.

Bush tucker is Australian terminology for the huge variety of herbs, spices, mushrooms, fruits, flowers, vegetables, and insects that are native to the country.

Some grow wild in our backyards; others hide their goodness in remote parts of the desert and coastline and are more difficult to find.

Foraging helps me to notice things I never did – a bit like “stop and smell the flowers”.

Wild fruits make excellent jams, sauces, chutneys, lacto-fermented pickles, and desserts.

Nuts can be used in raw pies, sweets, treats and breads.

Flowers and seeds for ice cream, fermented beverages and as spices.

In restaurants you can even find meat and fish dishes seasoned with ground kurrrajong flowers, wattle seed ice cream, lilly pilly berries soaked in honey and quandong (wild peach) stewed or in ice cream. Cappuccino seasoned with wattle seed and buffalo steaks smoked over banksia cones.

We love green coconuts – Just like Forest Gump’s – life is like a box of chocolates – you don’t know what you find – beautiful god’s nectar liquid and sometimes a layer of thick yoghurt sometimes thin layer and if too green a rather tart liquid without yoghurt.

Lemon Aspen … a small pale lemon coloured fruit with a sharp citrus flavour. Love bush tomatoes, wild limes, grass seeds, pigweed, wattles, and mangrove pods. Lacto-fermented pigweed pesto!!Yum!!Yum!!

Take the rough outside parts off grass seeds and grind to a powder, add water and cook in hot coals for a damper (memories from my girl guides).

Seeds from hairy pods of Kurrajong and Illawarra Flame Trees, roasted and ground for an exceptional rich dark flour.

What about tubers? yams, corms and roots for the barbie. Do not forget your greens … bruised leaves of fishweed and different saltbushes that can be prepared like spinach.

Leaves of cresses for Kraut, the buds and flowers steamed as broccoli and the seeds ground as mustard. Totally in love with the leaves and stems of Lemon Myrtle – beautiful citrus flavour for Water Kefir and Kombucha.

Native Pear produces a green pod with seeds when young taste like fresh peas.

Paper Bark from the Mellaluca tree as a festive platter liner or used as a cooking wrap where it will impart a delicate smokey flavour from the oils.  Wrap fish or poultry with a light sprinkle of lemon myrtle then put in an oven to bake or put on a dry plate or barbie.

Go smell those nectar-baring flowers like bottlebrush, grevillia, banksia, hakea and suck their sweet nectar.

Blossoms to make a sweet drink. The scarlet petals of wild rosella impart a crisp, berry-rhubarb flavour.

Fruits, vegetables, minerals, and animals all come from the bush. Traditionally these were hunted and gathered in various ways.

Over many thousands of years our wonderful people have perfected the skill of obtaining and preparing these natural materials into edible foods.

What a gift!!

• Dandelion and Moringa kefir pancakes and wild kimchi quiche. Dandelion blossom salads. Fried Dandelion greens.

• Place a selection of wild leaves in a blender with kefir and fresh seasonal fruit (berries, banana, pineapple and mango) and blend to make a nutrient-rich smoothie.

• Ferment many green combinations for an enzyme juice – Wow! This is a super-food, green smoothie!

• Many weed leaves and foraged flowers can be eaten raw – always confirm they are edible. Nibble on leaves in the garden or add something extra to a creative plate by mixing with kefir cheese for a spread or use as a garnish on a meal. Add to sauerkraut and kimchi before fermentation and add to finished food.

• Purslane seeds to make seed cake. Lightly sauté Purslane leaves and stems. Add to Kefir cheese, tomato, fermented garlic, oregano, and olive oil.

• Add leaves to a cup of boiling water in a teapot, with additional garden herbs to give aroma and flavoring, like lemon grass, tulsi, ginger and native mint. Stir, steep a few minutes, add optional kefir when cool and enjoy the health promoting benefits. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. Pineapple weed (closely related to chamomile) is very good as a tea. Dried leaves for fermented tea leaf salad.

• Pickle fresh leaves, fruit and berries in apple cider vinegar, adding fermented garlic, ginger, onions and herbs for flavouring.

• Our ancestors used as a potherb, by adding handfuls of fresh foraged leaves to soups, stews, steamed vegetables, curries and starchy grain dishes.

• Pioneer peeps learned to be excellent economists. They often experienced difficult times due to unusual weather and crop failure. With a shortage of food and no supermarkets they often foraged nature’s bounty.

• Incorporate leaves in recipes like kefir creme fraiche wattle seed quiche, wild garlic pesto, stir-fries, fritters, dumplings, casseroles, kefir spreads, dips, dressings, fermented salsa and more.

• Wattle flowers (without stalks) can be added to kefir pancake mixture.

• Dry leaves, crush to a fine powder with your hands. Put in containers for a stored survival food to add to soups, stews, dog food etc.

• Pigface can be blanched and put in a light pickling solution. The flowers contain sweet nectar and add a lovely touch to kefir. Pigface is said to be used to cut the fat of the echidna. (EEK! Who wants Echidna for dinner?).

•Thistles, nettles, mallows, miner’s lettuce, dandelions and watercress for salads.

• Add dried powdered leaves to dried garden herbs in a saltshaker to use for flavoring meals and kefir cheese as a nutrient-rich salt substitute.

• Foraged Algae … Of course, make sure you have obtained relevant permits and know what species you are chomping and the water it comes from is clean. Seaweed is an important part of the marine eco system; we only take what we need. Only remove the upper portions of the plant with knife or scissors, leaving the holdfast intact to allow the seaweed to regrow. Sea purslane when cooked tastes like potato chips and compliments kefir dip. Seaweed, grated horseradish and carrot sauerkraut.

Get in touch with the neighbours

Foraging is a way for peeps to engage with the lushness of their neighbourhoods, their daily commutes, or their favourite beach. Our local river walks reveal plenty of tamarind trees with edible pods. The leaves and flowers are also edible. Tamarind resembling cat poo dangling in clusters of brown suede, but their flavour is sweet and sour and totally delicious.

Tamarind(Tamarindus indica)

Tamarind paste – the fruit is squeezed with hot water, and the seeds removed to create a paste. Transform the seeds and peels, some raw honey and clean water into tamarind flavoured vinegar.

Tamarind + Turmeric Tonic

Good size piece of turmeric root, peeled and cut into chunks (Add some ginger root with the turmeric, for extra zing)

6 tamarind pods or 2 tablespoons tamarind paste

Juice of 2 lemons

½ cup raw honey

2 litres water (we prefer to use a mixture of brewed tulsi (basil) tea and lime juice in place of water)

Bring 1 litre of water to boil, heat turmeric, until water becomes a rich golden colour.

Make tamarind paste: Crack and open the pods and remove the fruit.

Simmer the tamarind fruit, stirring gently, to dissolves into a jam-like texture. When the seeds have come out of the fruit, let the mixture cool. Pour through a strainer to remove the seeds and seed peels and create the paste.

Add enough cool water to turmeric. Bring the temperature to just warm and blend thoroughly to liquefy the cooked turmeric.

Add the tamarind paste to the blended mixture and blend again.

Add lemon juice and honey and blend once more.

Add enough cool water to bring the quantity up to 2 litres of liquid.

Distribute the blended tonic into small jars with airtight lids, leaving ½-1 inch of head space. Ferment at room temperature for 2 days, then refrigerate for storage.

The honey will gradually ferment, leaving the taste but not the sweetness. When you are ready to drink, swirl to distribute the solids, or strain before drinking if you prefer a clearer liquid. Drink diluted … like a cordial. Pour over food as a garnish or dressing or add to kefir smoothies, dips, cheese and dances in kefir churned ice cream.

•Vanilla kefir ice cream topped with Quandong and chonky apple with a dusting of sweet native fruit, macadamia, spices and finger lime dukkah.

•Russian salad is made with diced potatoes, carrots, peas, wild greens and dill pickles. Steam vegetables and dice dill pickles. Add a generous helping of fermented wildflower buds to the mixture. Homemade mayonnaise or kefir is mixed in.

•When selecting flower buds for fermentation; pick buds that are still tightly closed, not flowers that have simply closed for the night, will have bits of petals sticking out. Use these as you would capers.

•To make classic dill pickles: cover fresh picked cucumber in a clean jar or crock with salted brine and add dill seeds and garlic cloves. Use tannin-rich knot weed stalks in place of cucumber.

•The leaves and flowers are the best bit of wild garlic for pesto and if you leave the bulbs even more wild garlic will be there next year. Please harvest sustain ably if you are fortunate enough to find a big enough patch to sustain some picking. 

Grandma made pesto (Grune Sosse) with wild greens, garlic and sorrel, watercress and walnut oil. Mixed with kefir green cheese (quark) and topped with poached eggs and sauerkraut salad on the side.

Note: Always remember, while foraging can be fun, you should never eat something unless you are sure of all the facts.

Before you pick: Know the plant first, know its look-alike, know when it is edible, what part is edible, how it is edible (raw, cooked, fermented, and how) and how much is too much. Never harvest plants near roadsides, polluted waters/areas.

• FPJ or Fermented Plant Juice is a fermented extract of the plant’s blood and chlorophylls. Unrefined sugar is used to extract the essence through osmotic pressure. FPJ is a rich enzyme solution full of bacteria, invigorating plants, animals and humans.

Enzyme Juice

Aww …. Fresh rain!!! Just like any fermentable … a cultural imprint, derived from our ancestors.

We avoid harvesting during or immediately after rainfall. Foraging or harvesting two days after a rain shower is recommended for fermentable. The microorganisms have washed away on the rainy day and have not had time to re-establish the following day. After two fine days they are good for picking and will be full of moisture and the good beasties will be present in heavy concentrations.

Plants are best collected just before sunrise as this is when the plants have the most nutrients. Plants have two metabolic processes: anabolism and catabolism. When the sun is up, anabolism is primary; from about 3.00 pm to the next sunrise, catabolism is active. This means that in the early morning just before sunrise the plants contain the most nutrients and vitality. It is best to make Enzyme Juice and prepare fermentables as soon as possible after picking the plants.

Wild Pesto

1kg wild green leaves

120 grams of pine nuts or chopped almonds chopped macadamias or prepared edible seeds –

Avocado/ noni fruit / jack fruit seeds.

1 tablespoon Himalayan salt

1/4 cup of clean water / Bok Choy juice

50 grams basil leaves

Blitz all the ingredients (except the water) in a blender, (you can change the ratio of ingredients to your personal taste)

Add mixture to Fido and top up with Bok Choy juice or water to cover mixture

Place weight over the top to be submerged

Place out of direct light for anywhere between one week and 2 months

Variation: Add best quality olive oil to the jar rather than brine to give a pesto close to clinical, shop-bought varieties and you can use almost straight away – 3 days – will not keep as long (oil and water do not mix) the greens and salt naturally produce water.

Grandma made pesto (Grune Sosse) with wild greens, garlic, and sorrel, watercress and walnut oil. Mixed with kefir green cheese (quark) and topped with poached eggs and kraut salad on the side.

Pesto Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon fermented pesto

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons coconut vinegar

1 teaspoon kombucha mustard, crushed fermented garlic and fermented ginger

In a screw top jar, secure lid and shake until combined.

Fermented Wildflower Buds – a beautiful edition to sauerkraut – gut loving bouquet

FERMENTED BUDS

2 cups of buds / pods

1–2 heads garlic, broken apart and peeled

A couple of shallots (including the green)

1-piece fresh ginger, chopped

2 tablespoons goji berries

1 cup Brine (1/2 tablespoon fine Himalayan salt to 1 cup of best quality water or white Bok Choy juice)

After picking the pods, give a good clean.

Separate the pods from each other, removing all the debris, and rinse.

Combine buds, garlic, shallots, ginger, and goji berries in a bowl. Transfer to one litre Fido and pour in the brine to cover the mixture completely. The buds will want to float. Place a weight or a small bottle with brine inside or a Daikon wedge on top to keep everything under the brine.

Remember: Always submerge in brine, and all will be fine.

Set aside on a plate to ferment, somewhere nearby and out of direct sunlight, in a cool spot for 5 to 7 days. As the buds and vegetables ferment, they begin to lose their vibrant colour and the brine will get cloudy; this is when you can start to test. They are ready when: The buds are dull green; the goji berries are plump but still bright orange red and the brine is cloudy. The flavour of the buds and the brine are slightly sour, with ginger and garlic notes. Store in the fridge in the same jar, lid tight. These will keep for about a year.

Add to a tapenade and sprinkle on salads.

Team with smoked salmon on top of a pizza

Used in recipes in place of preserved lemon

Try them in pasta salads, with grilled fish or chicken, dressings and marinades. Marinate with fresh picked tomato and use as a sauce for pasta etc. Team with kefir cheese.

NONI FRUIT (Morinda citrifolia) / Great Morinda /Australia Cheese fruit or Indian mulberry also nicknamed the “vomit fruit” because of the strong aroma, and worsens as the fruit ripens, but it is good to eat. It is usually blended with other fruits when juiced or added to second ferment for bevies. The young leaves can be added to pesto, kimchi and sauerkraut.

Traditionally, Noni juice was fermented. Picking yellow fruit (as opposed to the too young green), Best way is to bottle, let it get soft, put in a glass jar (cut or squish into jar). Sit out in sun… cap and three times a day, open the cap and release the air (you can also use a tight mesh screen). After one week (longer if you would like it more powerful). Place in the fridge. Drink as a tonic or add to beverages.

Though the aroma smells rather rotten to anyone unfamiliar, there is an odour of good fermented noni and bad, just like a fine wine.

SCRAP MEAD (Honey Wine) Pure honey does not invite microbial activity, when diluted with water – 2-3 parts with 1-part raw honey – the mixture ferments readily into mead.

What to do with the seeds of Davidson plum after making beverages, jam and sauce. Make mead from the bush bees and seeds.

1. Place a couple of seeds with clean water and lemon myrtle leaves, brought to a boil, and allow simmering.

2. Strain out the seeds and pulp, add clean source of water to make up 4 litres, and stir in a kilo of raw local honey.

3. Add dash of vanilla powder and half a lemon.

4. Wild yeast ferment, until champagne like bubble.

Approx. 7.5 – 8 % alcohol

Lemon Aspen has a wonderfully tart lemon taste with a hint of grapefruit. Best picked slightly under ripe.

100g of lemon aspen equals something close to the juice, zest and pulp of about 6 large lemons. Ferment whole in brine, vinegar, stinky cheese. Ice cream, wild pesto, lime marmalade, and spicy pickles with Quandongs and Muntri.

Add anise myrtle to second ferment kombucha or pop into fermented beetroot relish instead of star anise or aniseed.

WILD ROSELLA / ROSELLE (Hibiscus heterophyllus) It is a member of the Hibiscus family with large white hibiscus flowers, standing out like a beacon in the forest when sunlight falls.

The tastier part of the plant is the new leaf growth. Although the leaves are rather prickly, they crush easily under pressure and are tasty. The leaves can be fermented with kraut or wild pesto or as part of an enzyme juice. The tea is known for its extremely high antioxidant content (predominantly flavonoids).

Neem tea is made from the leaves, can be used as a drink or for kombucha, beware neem tea is very bitter! Rather than tasting bitter, some people think neem leaf tea resembles the grassy notes of green tea. You can add honey to your brew if you prefer.

Generally, you make Neem Tea the same way you make any other herbal tea. Note: you should not drink neem tea while pregnant or trying to conceive.

You can use dried or fresh neem leaves. Use the same amount as you would for any other cup of tea, say a good teaspoon dried neem leaf per teacup, or three to five fresh leaves. Pour hot water over it and let it brew. You can make weaker tea for drinking, stronger tea if you want to add it to the bath water, rinse your hair, soak your feet etc. Can add sugar and use to ferment kombucha – do not re-use the Scoby for another brew. Great to blend with coconut oil and use as a healing body salve. Same for any herb, bush or wild kombucha brews.

There are many bush tucker plants that can be grown in home gardens from macadamia nut, aniseed myrtle, hibiscus rosella, warrigal greens, bush weed, native mint, cinnamon myrtle, Burdekin plum, native ginger, peanut tree, wattles, bush tomato, pigface, midyum berry, blue quandong, bunya nut, lemon aspen, brown plum pine, desert lime, dianella lily, mountain pepper. All playing a part in fermentables.

BBQ Damper

Leave 6 cups flour mixed with 3 cups milk kefir overnight.

In the morning mix 1 teaspoon ground wattle seeds, add 1/2 cup coconut oil/ butter and work into flour mixture gently.

Mix in 1 cup cooked pumpkin and a little water if required.

Knead briefly and pat out into soft buns.

Bake for 1 hour 180-degree oven or, better still, place in cast iron bush oven and bake in a hole with hot coals for one hour.

In conclusion Let us consider the whole experience of eating, from seed to table, flavour to finish line.

A recipe only provides basic information, like dancing, you learn by concentrating on the music and your partner … wild greens and salt, and by putting on your dancing shoes, to find your own rhythms and style.

We hope you can “chew and digest” and go play and create your own gifts of fermentation. We should not be overwhelmed with all the information. The recipes are only guides – and endlessly adaptable.

Above all, it is hoped people will appreciate the importance of approaching food and health issues with a sense of fun and curiosity. 

So, go to it …turn your foraging into an event! Share your food with family and friends and give thanks for life’s bounty.

Go play, dance and enjoy! The joy of life comes when we make a dance out of each step along with the stumbles.

May you be abundantly fermented and transformed into rich, nourished and beautiful wonders!

Happy weekend everyone. Hope it is kind and you get to fill it with what lights up your 💓 Xxoo Lynnie

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