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June 29: Peach Palm (Pejibayes)

2016/06/29 deej 0

The peach palm or pejibaye (Bactris gasipeas) is native to the lowland tropics of South and Central America. It was domesticated during the pre-Columbian era by the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and both the fruit and seeds have been used as food since then.   The texture of the fruit, raw or cooked, has been compared to a firm sweet potato, and the flavour is similar to squash, buttery potato, or roasted chestnut. Undamaged, raw fruits will keep well, gradually dehydrating, in a low humidity environment with good airflow. Bruised or damaged fruits, however, will ferment in only a […]

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June 24: mesquite – the forbidden legume

2016/06/24 deej 0

Although mesquite (Prosopis species) are prohibited in Australia (mesquite is a declared weed in all states), because they can form thorny thickets which could pose problems for livestock farmers and because their thorns can puncture tyres, they do provide an excellent food source. Mequite meal, made by grinding up the pods and seeds, contains 10 – 17% protein, and is high in lysine.   Most mesquite species (there are around 40 of them) are small trees or large shrubs, native to desert and xeric regions of north and central America. They may have one or multiple trunks, and the leaves […]

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June 22: wattleseed pancakes

2016/06/22 deej 0

Of the many species of wattle native to Australia, several produce seeds which are suitable for use as human food. Edible wattleseed has rich nutty, chocolate and roasted coffee flavours, and is well suited to both sweet and savoury uses.   Australian aboriginal peoples ground dried wattle seeds to form a flour, which was then baked into damper (traditional campfire bread). The green seeds of some wattle species were also eaten, cooked and consumed as a green vegetable like peas or fresh beans. Wattle seeds have also been used as food in some areas in West Africa, where the wattle […]

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June 20: chestnuts – sweet potato on a tree

2016/06/20 deej 0

The chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) is, like the oak tree, typical of parks and woodlands in the UK – although they’re much more widespread than just that. They are still grown commercially in manmy places, with the top producers being China, Turkey, southern Europe, Korea, Bolivia; Australia is a small player in the global market, but we do grow chestnuts here too, mainly for domestic use. Chestnuts are a significant food crop in southern Europe and east Asia, and were widely eaten in the past by the indigenous peoples of North America.   The relationship between humans and chestnuts dates back […]

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June 17: carob is not chocolate

2016/06/17 deej 0

Many people know carob only as a chocolate substitute, but the truth is that carob does not taste like chocolate. The raw, dry pods have a rich, caramel flavour a little like a date; roasting the carob pods gives them a darker, nuttier character. Both raw and roasted, carob pods have been used as a sweetener and basic foodstuff for thousands of years.   The cultivation of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is mentioned in ancient texts, dating back to Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. It was grown in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Carob thrives in these […]