Wattleseed is an Australian native spice that has a distinctive coffee and chocolate flavour and aroma. Considered one of the world's most nutritious arid zone foods, wattleseed has been providing Indigenous communities in Central Australia with a rich source of protein for thousands of years.
Wattleseed are the edible seeds of the Australian Acacia (wattle) tree, which grows in almost every area of Australia. There are over 1000 species of Acacia but only 120 of them are considered edible. The trees are particularly prevalent in arid to semi arid regions, and their high protein and carbohydrate content has made them a highly valued source of food for Indigenous Australians during times of drought. Traditionally, the seeds were ground into flour and cooked like damper, but some species were also eaten green after being baked in coals.
A wider audience is now discovering the high nutritional value and delicious flavour of wattleseed. Cooks and chefs are seeking out the ingredient to add to breads, pastries, desserts particularly ice cream and also as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee.
Peter and Linda Hoffmann from Footeside Farm are part of a small community of growers who are embracing bushfoods. They have been growing wattleseed, along with a number of other bushfoods on their South Australian property since 1999. We were farming pigs but when the industry was deregulated we didnt want to expand into a large piggery, so we decided to try bushfoods instead, says Linda.
Wattleseeds take four to five years to mature and once harvested need to be cleaned and roasted to release their characteristic mocha aroma and flavour. The length of roasting time determines the end use, as Linda explains: the light roasts are used in baby formula in Ethiopia (due to the seeds high protein content). The medium roast is used in baking and the dark roast is used to make a coffee-like beverage.
The easiest way to incorporate wattleseed into your cooking is to add it to your baking and Linda has kindly shared her favourite wattleseed cookie recipe with us below.
For more inspiration Linda and Peter have put together Wattle Seed: The Kitchen Handbook that features over 30 recipes that highlight the wonderful flavour of this unique bushfood.
Wattle Seed Cookies
210g self-raising flour
100g margarine, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
30g wattleseed, roasted and ground
1. Melt margarine.
2. Mix flour, sugar and wattleseed together. Add egg and then melted margarine and mix until well combined.
3. Form into small balls. Place well apart on a baking tray, lined with baking paper.
4. Bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes or until slightly brown.