We have been experimenting with Strawberry Gum (Eucalyptus olida) here at Peppermint Ridge as the dried leaves make a wonderful spice. The fresh leaves are fine to use in cooking too and will keep in a ziplock bag in the fridge for weeks.
Strawberry Gum is a very rare tree from Northern New South Wales that we have been propagating here at the Farm. The tree is hardy if you can get a hold of one. Strawberry Gum leaves can be made into a spice by first drying and then grinding the leaves in a food processor – the ground leaves will last for 2 years if kept in a cool, dark place.
The best news about Strawberry Gum is that it tastes great – a bit like vanilla, strawberry, or passionfruit – but it really has a flavour all its own that is hard to describe. This unique flavour comes from an essential oil in the leaf called Methyl Cinnamate, which acts as an enhancer to any dish.
This spice will enhance and draw out flavour to anything with berries, tomato based sauces, dairy or coconut milk dishes such as custards, ice creams, or pannacotta. It also makes a wonderful hot drink when a little is added to your favourite black or green tea.
Use sparingly as the flavour can be strong, you can always add more if the taste is too subtle.
There are amazing health benefits to using the leaves in your cooking. The chemicals found in the leaves are high in antioxidants and the oil is antimicrobial against foodborne human pathogens, food spoilage bacteria, and yeasts assisting in keeping a healthy microbial balance in the human gut. Very important if you have been taking antibiotics or have been unwell.
So there are no negatives to using this plant in the kitchen!
Infuse the leaves in hot milk, sugar, and cream to make the base for custard, ice cream, or pannacotta.
Note: coconut or almond milk can be used just as effectively. We like to add a small amount of the chopped dried leaf to black tea for an extra antioxidant and flavour lift.
Here is a recipe to get you inspired–more coming later this week!
- 200g 70% Cocoa Dark cooking chocolate - melted
- 1 tsp dried ground Strawberry Gum spice
- 1 cup pitted dates
- ⅔ cup toasted ground Macadamia nuts
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- Process dates until smooth.
- Add melted chocolate, Strawberry Gum and nuts.
- Cool mixture in refrigerator.
- Shape into walnut sized balls and roll in coconut.
- Store in a clean jar in the refrigerator.
- Try not to eat them all at once!!
- This recipe can be made very quickly in a food processor that also heats.
Note: If you’d like to taste the wonderful flavours of Strawberry Gum and other native Australian edible plants, come to our Bush Food Flavours Lunch this Sunday, April 17. Bookings available here.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Have you tried Strawberry Gum? What do you think?