Last week our family developed our #YearOfFirsts list – 20 things we want to try together for the first time in 2015. At Number 10 I had “learn about bush tucker and collect some ourselves“. Who could imagine that only days later I would stumble across some bush tucker on the grounds of my workplace which I could easily harvest and take home to try.
The Bunya nut drops from the Bunya Pine every couple of years. The cones are as large as a bowling ball and just as heavy. Walking the grounds of my work place I initially dismissed the first one I came across thinking it was just like a pine cone only significantly larger and heavier. I had no idea that inside was a bounty of delights.
A few days later I watched cockatoos feasting on a cone and I commented to a colleague that I didn’t know parrots liked pine cones so much. She laughed and told me that it wasn’t a type of pine cone at all but a Bunya cone which is filled with nuts. Google became my friend that night as I researched the Bunya nut more. The next day I grabbed three of them to take home and dissect with the kids.
Living to about 500 years old and growing to an impressive 35-40 metres in height, the Bunya tree was once very common in the Blackall Range in the hinterland area of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Logging, farm clearing and dam building have reduced their coverage and they are now a protected tree. Culturally, the Bunya has huge significance to the Aboriginal’s of the area who would hold large festivals as the fruit ripened for harvest. This was possibly Australia’s largest indigenous event.
Although I neither live or work in Queensland, there are three or four Bunya trees on the grounds of my work. This is where I saw the tree. The cones were difficult to carry as they were not only heavy but have sharp thorns at the end of each kernel.
On dissecting the cone we found a large Bunya nut in most kernels. The largest Bunya cone produced over 90 individual nuts. I did a little research to learn how to cook the nuts, choosing to boil them for around 30 minutes. They are still quite difficult to remove from the shell, but a nut cracker provided enough strength to squeeze the inner nut from the shell. I read somewhere that inside the nut is a small green shoot which, when eaten, can produce a stomach ache in the consumer. I removed these and we feasted on the cooling nuts.
Due to the sheer amount of nuts contained in just three cones I am planning to try some other methods of cooking them. We will roast them to see if they become too dry, make a pesto and perhaps even a hommus. I’ve read that they can be used to create a gluten free flour but I’m unsure if I have the patience.
If you are interested to read how these experiments go head to the KidBucketList Instagram page for our follow up images.
Have you tried Bush Tucker? What did you think?