As many of my sustainably-minded friends know, I am a great advocate for our native foods. Currently in South-east Queensland, it is the season for Bunya nuts. These are large cones, weighing up to 10kg which fall from tall, dome-crowned forest giants, Aracauria bidwilii. Each cone contains many seeds, which all fit around a soft cone in the centre. When ripe, the cones remain bright green. (I have had enquiries how to tell when their cone is ripe, as people sometimes expect it to change colour, as many fruits do when ripe). If your nut turns brown this is no cause for concern, the nuts are probably still OK but it is time to “shuck” them, meaning remove the outer husk. They can then be frozen if you have an abundance, or eaten either raw or cooked once the inner shell is removed.
During the 1990s the CSIRO conducted some research into native plant foods. The evidence was overwhelming that these would have greatly contributed to good health and vigour. Several kinds of fruit including Burdekin plum and Ryberry were found to have more anti-oxidants than blueberries! As for bunya nuts, they were found to contain mostly complex carbohydrates. The nutrition profile is more like a cereal than a true nut, as the oil contact is very low (1 – 3 %) while complex carbs were around 40% or more. The nuts varied quite a bit which may reflect different genetic strains, climate or soils. The protein content ranged from 10 – 20%! No wonder aboriginal people were reported to look “sleek and healthy” after the Bunya season! SO get with the seasonal sustainable eating and eat your Bunya nuts!