Barbushco is a family owned business located in the beautiful Lorne valley approximately 40km south-west of Port Macquarie. Originally a beef cattle farm, Bruce and Barbara Barlin looked for diversification alternatives in the 1990’s when the prices for beef cattle were very low. We considered a lot of alternatives, the initial outlay for most was very expensive, and the time before any returns was quite considerable.
About that time there were some seminars being held up and down the coast to attract growers to the Bush Food Industry. We did some homework, and decided that we would give it a go, and now have over 26,000 Australian Native trees of several varieties planted. On our farm, we grow Lemon Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle, Lemon Scented Tea Tree, Davidson Plums, Riberries and Brush Cherries. These particular varieties were selected because they are found naturally in our local area, and because there had already been research done into the markets available for the end products.
So now we are bush food growers. Ask most people what they think are bush foods and you get a pretty standard answer – Kangaroo & Witjuti Grubs? But these are only the sensationalised side of bush foods. We prefer to talk about our products as Australian Native Flavours. These are foods and flavours that can be used in our existing diets and food habits.
Australia has literally thousands of bush foods which have been identified by the CSIRO and other research that has been taking place over the last decade, but we currently use only a couple of hundred of these. Australia imports billions of dollars worth of spices and foods from overseas every year, and yet we have such wonderful flavours here that are comparable in taste and far superior in quality.
The basic flavours for most of our products come from our spice trees. Bush leaf flavours are best used like spices or herbs to give a subtle taste to dishes. They adapt easily to any style of cooking and can also be used to make aromatic hot or cold teas.
Lemon Myrtle is the latest flavour that is taking the imagination of chefs all over. Lemon Myrtle has a superb fragrance and a delightful flavour of a blend of lemon, lemongrass and lime. The flavour blends beautifully in a variety of culinary applications. It is exquisite in cheesecakes, desserts, breads, biscuits, and chocolates and creates a superlative flavour for fish, sauces, pasta and beverages. It can be used instead of Lemongrass in Thai cooking, and because of its ease of use is becoming a real favourite with the Asia chefs. Lemon Myrtle is also great a herbal tea. It has calmative properties, so it’s a nice tea to have before bedtime, or refreshing as an iced tea on a hot day.
Aniseed Myrtle is a very aromatic spice with a flavour similar to Star Anise. It can be used to flavour pasta, seafood, stocks, sauces, breads, biscuits, chocolates, ice cream and liqueurs. It substitutes beautifully for Star anise in any recipe.
Cinnamon Myrtle as its name would suggest, has a taste and smell similar to cinnamon, and can be used to substitute for cinnamon in curries, breads, desserts and stir fries. We have combined Cinnamon Myrtle, Lemon Myrtle and Chilli Powder to make a blend we call Rainforest Blend. This is an easy mixed spice that can be tossed into stir fries, salads or sprinkled on BBQ meats.
Lemon Scented Tea Tree has a sharper lemon flavour than the Lemon Myrtle, and we have mixed it with Aniseed Myrtle and Lemon Myrtle to make up our Rainforest Blend Tea. It has a slightly spicier taste that the straight Lemon Myrtle tea. The Aniseed Myrtle and Lemon Tea Tree have stimulant qualities and thus makes a great pick-me-up.
Dorrigo Pepper is an Australian Leaf Pepper with a sharp hot flavour. It is similar to black pepper in taste, although more subtle when first tasted, it has a longer palate, and grows on you the more you eat. It complements cheese, dips, bread, pates, soups, mustards and sauces, and can be used in any culinary application where common pepper is used.
Perhaps the most recognised of the Australian flavours is Wattle seed. It has a coffee/hazelnut/chocolate flavour, and is great in ice-cream, cream, cakes, breads and biscuits. A lot of people are using Wattleseed as an alternative to ground coffee.
As well as the spice trees, we also grow some Australian Native fruits. We grow 2 varieties of Lilli Pilli – Brush Cherry and Riberry. These have quite different flavours and make beautiful jams. The Riberry has a berry taste with a spicy finish almost like ginger or cardamom, whereas the Brush Cherry is like a cross between a cherry and a red currant. We use the Riberry in our Lilli Pilli Jam which gives it a flavour unlike anything else.
Davidson Plum is an Australian Native plum. The fruit is very tart in flavour but excellent when made into jams and sauces. We sell both Davidson Plum Jam and Davidson Plum Chilli Sauce. The Davidson Plum has a very high concentration of Vitamin C and natural preservatives which allows it to be dried without adding preservatives.
Other than the bushfoods we grow ourselves, we also buy some from other growers. We make a Wild Lime Marmalade from the Australian Blood Lime. The blood lime is a hybrid of the finger lime and the desert lime.
We also have Rosella Jam. There are no beaks and feathers in our Rosella Jam. Rosellas are an annual bush, also known as the Native Hibiscus. They have a small cream flower that looks like a Hibiscus, and when it closes up it forms red bracts around the seed. It is these red bracts that are used to make jams, sauces and syrups.
Among our other products is the Bush Tomato Chilli Sauce. Although related to the Tomato in genus, the Bush Tomato tastes nothing like a tomato. It is often called a Bush Raisin because the flavour is almost a fruity flavour, but has a strong sharp spicy aftertaste. The bush tomato sauce also incorporates some of our other spices.
As well as using our Native trees for bushfoods, we also distil essential oils. Australian Native Essential Oils have been the subject of much research recently in several of our universities. Because of this they are now becoming increasingly popular in Aroma Therapy.
We distil 3 of our tree varieties into essential oil, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Scented Tea Tree and Aniseed Myrtle.
Lemon Myrtle is the world’s richest known source of the lemon flavour and fragrance citral (90-98%). It has been described as more lemon than lemon. An exquisite essential oil for vapourisation and aromatherapy.
Lemon Myrtle Oil has been proved to have therapeutic actions as an antiseptic, anti-viral, calmative, sedative and corrective for the common cold, influenza, bronchitis, herpes simplex, indigestion and other irritable GIT disorders. Recent research at Charles Sturt University also show that it has very high anti-fungal properties.
Lemon Scented Tea Tree essential oil is prepared from the leaves and stems of this beautiful Australian Native shrub, (Leptospermum petersonii). The Lemon Scented Tea Tree has similar medicinal characteristics to the ordinary Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic. Recent tests with the Leptospermum Petersonii has found the bacterial killing action to be more effective against Staphylococcus auereus, Candida albicans and Aspergillas niger than the Alternifolia. The Leptospermum Petersonii Oil has a high citral content, which gives it a pleasant Lemon scent, however this could cause irritation in sensitive skins. Lemon Scented Tea Tree also contains the insect repellants Citronellal, Citronellol and Geraniol. Lemon Tea Tree Oil can be used in Aromatherapy as an immune system stimulant, particularly for colds and flu, for the digestive system (dyspepsia & colitis), and for the treatment of anxiety, stress, depression and nervous tension.
Aniseed Myrtle Oil has a distinct Aniseed aroma. It is a stimulant in small quantities and a sedative when used in larger quantities, so it needs to be used sparingly. It has been known to cause a light headed sensation people have described as a “Spacy” feeling. Because of it’s low oil yield, the Aniseed Myrtle is less readily available and more expensive.
Bush Food Educational Resources
Food and Technology teachers are constantly telling us how difficult it is to source high quality classroom resources for the Bushfood section of the Curriculum. Barbushco now offers a range of bush food teaching aids which includes a DVD, posters, and product packs. Download the Bush Food Teaching printable flyer with info about content, prices and ordering details.