Wattleseed has to be the unsung hero of the Australian Native Food industry. The Acacias with their enormous diversity of species and forms cover the length and breadth of the Australian continent. Although not all Acacias are suitable for human consumption, they have been a mainstay in the diet of Indigenous Australians for thousands of years. The wattle flower is the well known emblem of Australia, and is represented in the green and gold worn by Australian athletes.
Several species of Acacias are more palatable and commercially viable, these being; Ac victoriae – Prickly Acacia; Ac. sophorae – Coastal Wattle; Ac retinodes – Wirilda; Ac coriacea – Dogwood; Ac murrayana – Colony Wattle; and Ac aneura – Mulga. In their natural habitats these species are plentiful, and because of this, they have been mainly harvested in the wild. The most sought after wattleseed is the Ac retinodes – Wirilda, which is now being planted in large commercial plots for the bushfood industry.
The seeds of the Acacias have very hard husks, and when they fall to the ground, will last for up to 20 years in their natural environment, usually only germinating after bushfires. Because this hard outer casing also protects the seed during long periods of dormancy on the ground, Wattleseed has provided indigenous Australians with a rich source of protein and carbohydrate in times of drought. The seed was crushed into flour between flat grinding stones and cooked into cakes or damper. Even the green seeds of some species were eaten after baking in the hot coals.
Roasted ground Wattleseed has a diverse number of uses in the kitchen, from baking to thickening of sauces and casseroles, to ice cream. By dark-roasting Wattleseed, the most delightful aroma of nutty fresh roasted coffee is released and can be used as a beverage or as an addition to chocolate or desserts.
The Aboriginals used wattle seed to make a type of flour. They cooked this often in ovens made in a hole in the ground using hot coals and hot rocks. Wattle seeds are very nutritious. Some types were also eaten green or cooked in the pod.
Wattleseed contains potassium, calcium, iron and zinc in fairly high concentrations. With a low glycemic index, they are good for diabetics, providing a steady stream of sugars that do not produce sudden rises in blood glucose levels.
Most vitamins are found except for C, B12 and riboflavin. they are high in fibre – over 30%.