Thanks to the generosity of Australian celebrity chef Vic Cherikoff, I was able to use wattleseed in my final year college project when I made Wattleseed and Lemon Myrtle rolled Pavlova. A unique and excellent taste once experienced, never forgotten.
Ripe acacia pods and seeds
|Species:||Acacia victoriae, a. sophorae, a. murrayana and others.|
A wild plant native to arid and temperate areas of Australia and recently put to cultivation. Tropical Australian wattle species have also been grown for many years in Niger in West Africa. Originally planted there for firewood and sand stabilisation, they were subsequently found to produce prolific crops of seed even during drought.
Seeds. Wattleseeds are the seeds of the acacia genus of shrubs and trees.
Fabaceae (bean family).
Aromatic, bitter-sweet, roast chocolate nutty taste.
The genus name acacia is derived from the Latin acacia, a name derived from the Ancient Greek akakia "thorny Egyptian tree", probably related to the Greek ake "point" or "thorn", from an Indo-European base ak- "sharp". The common name "wattle" is Anglo-Saxon in origin (Old English waetla, Old German wadal), meaning rods or poles that can be interwoven for use in building construction.
Species name victoriae derives from the Australian territory of Victoria where cultivation is centred, this in turn being a reference to Queen Victoria dating from Australia’s period as a British colony (normally implying large leaves or flowers). Species name sophorae refers to the genus of legume plants sophora, from Arabic sufayrā. Species name murrayana refers to the Murray river in SE Australia (Sir George Murray (1772-1846)) and to the local Aboriginal peoples.
Seeds from as many as 100 species of acacia (wattleseeds) have been put to culinary use by Australian Aboriginals for at least 6,000 years, a period as long as humans have cultivated food alongside the Nile in Egypt, the Euphrates in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and the Indus in India. Traditionally, Australian Aboriginal women harvest the fully ripe, dry seeds from the wattle, collecting them by beating pod-laden trees with sticks to dislodge the seeds. These are dried by collecting in bark dishes and drying with hot coals. Once adequately toasted and dried, the coals are removed and the seeds cleaned and milled to a coarse meal which is then baked into cakes.
Today an estimated 47 species of acacia tree growing in Southern Australia produce seeds that are used for human consumption and several other species are used for cattle feed production. The predominant culinary species is acacia victoriae, other edible species being a. colei, a. coriacea, a. pycnantha "golden wattle", a. murrayana "sandplain wattle", a. retinodes "silver wattle" and a. sophorae "coastal wattle".
Of the culinary uses of wattleseed, the most important is its use as a coffee substitute. When roasted (as per coffee beans) beyond the level required for cake meal and then ground, they generate a unique coffee, chocolate, hazelnut, roasted flavour. When used in a coffee machine in place of normal coffee grounds, the ground wattleseed makes an excellent drink, delicious with milk or cream, which brings out the sweetness in the spice.
Modern extraction techniques are used to produce wattleseed extract, which can be used in a multitude of ways. The extract has an emulsifying action and is an effective stabiliser for whipped cream, nut butters and some oil and water mixtures (sauces, particularly emulsion sauces, dressings etc). Applications for wattleseed extract include flavouring ice cream, pancakes, bread, pasta, chocolate, biscuits and beer. The extract can also be used in red wine sauces, marinades and dessert sauces.
As a spice, acacia seeds are used in a number of barbecue dishes, e.g. Cajun barbecued flathead fish. The native Australian fish is filleted and seasoned with a mix of wattle, bush tomato, mountain pepper, pepper and salt. The fish is wrapped in paperbark, tied with natural fibre string and cooked on a barbecue or hotplate until the paperbark smokes and the fish is tender (approx. 15 mins. for fillets). The dish is served in the bark trimming, with the parcel opened and the charred paperbark folded in beneath the fish.