The bountiful beauty of the Bunya Nut, versatile bush tucker food!
Interesting tid bit .. apparently these pine nuts were dinosaur food millions of years ago… hmmm… Wow!
The Bunya Pine tree (Araucaria bidwillii) will live for around 600 years, grow up to 35-45 metres tall and drop their giant pine nuts, which can weigh up to 10 kg, to the earth. Inside each pine are the seeds… the edible portion of this amazing nut.
The Bunya Pine tree fruits in the summertime. The abundance of the seed facilitated mass gatherings of indigenous cultures, celebrations.
Nutritionally the nuts are ”40% water, 40% complex carbohydrates, 9% protein, 2% fat, 0.2% potassium, 0.06% magnesium” and contains approx. 32 calories. The flesh of the nut is very similar to that of a Chestnut — low oil, high starch.
I have had some fun this week playing with different ways of utilising the seeds of the Bunya Nut… certainly these little fellas make you work hard for the yummy, versatile flesh inside each husk. There is a whole world of recipes to be found and created ranging from pasta sauce, pesto, pizza topping, desserts!
To access the flesh is quite something, firstly you are extracting the nuts from the cone, slitting the tops, boiling them for around 30-50 minutes and then the fun begins – splitting the husk and extracting the flesh for cooking.
Phew… it takes some time, effort and work! Patience! But worth the play.
I have found the actually flesh to be quite dry and certainly likes to drink up any liquid that is used with it in cooking. Its good to be aware of this before undertaking any cooking with these babies! I made some pesto and found at the end it was quite dry and thus am now using the pesto in cooking of other dishes, adding it to a curry, vegetables etc
The Bunya Nut Chocolate cake that I have made was a journey of research, I found a recipe for the cake and have adjusted it as I wanted a gluten, dairy and sugar free cake that still tasted amazing and wasn’t to dry.
Bunya Nut Chocolate Cake
3 cups of husked Bunya Nuts
1/2 litre of Almond Milk
75grams of Coconut butter
Date syrup to your taste
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
100 grams Almond meal
1/3 – 1/2 cup of Cacoa
Boil the Bunya kernels in a large saucepan, make sure you slit the tops before boiling, for 40 minutes
Remove the nuts from the kernel
Place the nuts in a food processor to make a smooth paste, slowly add milk as the almonds process.
Mix coconut butter, egg yolks, date syrup until smooth and light.
Mix this mixture in with the Bunya nut paste by hand.
Beat egg whites to firm and hand blend into the Bunya mix, mix bits at a time, add cacoa, almond meal, vanilla essence, mix again by hand and add remaining egg white, mix all ingredients through thoroughly.
Pour into a cake tin, ensure well oiled or lined with baking paper. Bake in 180 degree oven for 50 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave in the hot oven for a further 20 minuts.
I utilised some more yumminess from the forest garden and choose Native Limes to add to cacao with coconut oil and a little date syrup.
It was a matter of playing with the consistencies to get the taste right.
If Native limes are not accessible to you, try using oranges, lemons or just normal limes. You want a consistency that is not to thick but not going to run off the cake either.
Enjoy this cake, it feels healthy and nourishing to eat, you don’t need to eat much to feel satiated and nourished.