When Joseph Maiden alighted on the shores of the new colony, he discovered an abundance of botanical wealth. But he was not the first. Many of the plants he catalogued had been used by the original inhabitants for thousands of years, for reasons both gastronomical and medicinal. These wonderful specimens now flavour Maidenii Vermouths, symbols of a land both very old and very young.

WATTLESEED Acacia spp.

wattleSeed

Wattle trees, the symbol of the new colony, can be found on desert plains and scrubby slopes across the land. Most varieties provide sustenance as well as symbolism. Dried pods contain wattle seed, a versatile flavouring with subtle coffee and chocolate undertones.

Uses & Substitutions: The nutty undertones of wattle seeds make it a quintessentially Australian culinary ingredient. Ground it offers a caffeine free alternative to coffee. It can be added to muffins, sprinkled over muesli or used as a base for ice-cream. To prepare, gently heat wattleseed in a pan to release its flavoursome oils.

Traditional use: Wattle has fed the people of this land for thousands of years, and continues to do so in the arid desert regions where traditional ways of life survive. Women would collect the ripe seedpods; extract the seed or ‘yandy’, and clean in a coolamon. The seed would then be dried and roasted before being ground into flour. Mixed with water, this dough became damper cooked on the coals.

SEA PARSLEY Apium prostratum
seaparsley

Sea Parsley, or Sea Celery, thrives on the salt tinged coastlines of southern Australia. A close relation of the European variety, it nonetheless possesses its own Antipodean characteristics. The rocky ledges and seaweed it grows upon impart a unique flavour. The shiny dark foligage is peppered with white flowers in summer, and beneath the sand is a water seeking tap root that gives it a long life.

Uses & Substitutions: When the ravaged crew of ‘The Endeavour’ alighted on the new land, Captain Cook fed them sea parsley to liven meals and prevent scurvy. Early Europeans continued to use it in soups and with vegetables and it still is a valuable addition to any dish.

Aboriginal Use: For the longest time, Sea Parsely has been used both as flavouring and as a general elixir for good health.

 

RIVER MINT Mentha australis

riverMint
This rambling bush thrives along riverbanks and in lush forests across southeast Australia. From the fragile leaves and small mauve blossoms a strong spearmint aroma hints at the fresh flavour.

Uses & Substitutions: River Mint will impart its mint tones whether used fresh or dried. Maiden’s compatriots used River Mint on their Sunday roast lamb when their hearts and taste buds were missing home.

Traditional use: As well as being used for its cooling flavor, River Mint calmed those with coughs, colds and stomach upsets.

 

STRAWBERRY GUM Eucalyptus olida

strawberryGum
The woodlands of Eastern Australian around the former colony of New South Wales are home to the stately Strawberry Gum. The verdant, slender leaves emit a strong aromatic and have an intense berry flavour.

Uses & Substitutions: Strawberry Gum is a champion of the bushfood industry. Its scent and flavor can be found in confectionary, baked goods, preserves, tea and cosmetics. The fragrant oil of the leaves is offset perfectly with vanilla.

Traditional Use: The people who gathered in the forests of the tablelands would often chew on the leaves for the berry tastes. When moistened and laid over the fire, these leaves released a fragrant smoke that was used to calm sickly stomachs.