The Native Currant can be found in small pockets of South Australia and Victoria; particularly on Kangaroo Island, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills.
These are very rare in the wild but are grown sustainably by Outback Pride. The currants have an incredible colour and are wonderful in drinks.
It belongs to the canthium attenuatum shrub which grows about 3m high. This shrub produces small white flowers, deep green citrus-like leaves and the fruit (ahakeye) which are black when ripe and very small. Women collect the small black seeds scatter them across the desert. This scattering is an important part of desert life, promoting new bush plum shrubs.
◎ Common Name: Native Currant, Bush Plum, Wild Plum, Black Plum
◎ Scientific or Latin Name: Canthium latifolium
◎ Comparison: Fresh currants but tart
◎ Seasonality: All year frozen
◎ Region: Farmed
◎ Taste Profile: Its berries are tart and cranberry-like when young, but develop into dark, sweet fruit as they mature.
◎ Types: There are a number of different species occurring naturally from tropical and sub tropical regions as well.
- They offer a moderate source of vitamin C.
- Studies indicate that the phytochemicals in the fruit have natural pesticide properties, and have been proven effective against Epilachna beetles.
Aboriginal & Traditional
Known as Ahakeye to the Aboriginal people, it is favoured for its sweet taste and, as it can be reconstituted in water when dry, it is an invaluable desert food.
Since the native currant is an important food source, it is a totem for many Aboriginal people and has a Dreaming story associated with it.
Western & Modern
In late Summer, Wild Currant berries grow in large, grape-like clusters and ripen unevenly — creating a spectacular ornamental display. Berries start out a pinkish white and darken to red and black as their sweet flavours develop. They can be enjoyed raw or used in jams, jellies, sour sauces, syrups, desserts and wines.
Fruits may be harvested regularly as the berries ripen. They keep well in the freezer, making it easy to gradually accumulate a desired quantity for cooking. The flavour is best when mixed with sugar to remove the acidity.
There are no known medicinal uses for this plant.
Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.
Images: © Luisa Brimble