Building an Australian Native Ingredients Spice Pantry can be exy. It can get quite expensive setting up a collection to have on hand but its absolutely not worth buying in bulk as you will waste too much before it goes stale. Here are ten tips to help make your spices last.
1. Buy Australian Natives that are grown in Australia and preferably from ethical businesses that are Indigenous owned or aren't black-washing their business.
This one might sound obvious but more and more of our precious Australian nuts, flowers and botanicals are grown outside of Australia. The IP of these plants must be protected. We don't send seeds out side of Australia.
Look out for Australian Made and Grown
Try to support Aboriginal businesses you can check them on Supply Nation.
2. Buy in small quantities
Visiting specialty stores to source a bargain and buy in small amounts is best. Warndu's free app has a list of stores and we are always working to add more and it has a handy list of native plants and their taste profile.
2. Steam = No Go
Steam and moisture is absolute death for your precious spices. If it gets into your spice bottle the flavour intensity will disappear. It also causes the powder to clump. If placing into steaming pot, avoid pouring spices into the pot directly from the jar. This will stop any unwanted moisture getting inside.
3. Taste as you go
It is tempting to toss spices in at the end of cooking as a whoops I forgot to season. Do not. Instead, add them early in the cook to allow the flavours to infuse. Taste test often and, if needed, add more seasoning. And then taste and taste some more.
4. Check the use by date ~ Yes spices do have a use by date, but it's long for our native ones.
I know, we all do it. Need some last minute cinnamon and find a jar from 1998 and think oh yeah that will do. Ha ha ha. Spices lose their flavour and colour if they’re kept too long. Regularly check all your spices to make sure they still have an aroma and that their colour isn’t faded. Just get rid of them. Buy small batches to avoid wastage.
5. Salt lightly and early
No one enjoys salty food. Avoid this problem by adding a small amount of salt early in the cook. Taste test as you go and add more if needed.
For those looking to reduce salt try using Saltbush. We also use saltbush in our Warndu Native Salt and Pepper which is a premix.
6. Store spices correctly
Keep your spices looking and tasting like they’ve just been picked by storing properly. Place them in a cool, dark location away from the oven, fridge, stove, or anything else that gives off heat. Ensure they are sealed in resealable bags, or airtight containers.
7. Invest in a good spice grinder
So worth it. Even just a mini coffee grinder works a treat. The flavours have more va-va-voom when you grind them just before adding to food.
To ensure the best of many of our super food Australian Native's like Bush Tomato, Pepperberry, myrtle leaves (Anise Myrtle, Cinnamon Myrtle, Lemon Myrtle) it is best to buy dried product and grind when you need.
The one exception to this is freeze dried powders like the ones we use for our Native Fruits.
8. Invest in a microplane
With spices like ginger or nutmeg, a microplane is an invaluable tool. For a small cost, this tool fits easily into the utensil draw and makes grating spices a cinch. The best.
Once you’ve used a spice, reseal the Warndu bag or flip the lid shut immediately after use to keep out unwanted moisture.
9. Always Toast whole spices in a pan
Buying whole spices and then toasting them yourself is a surefire way to incorporate mind-blowing flavour into your cooking. You can also toast ground spices but they only need seconds on the heat or they’ll burn. Once the fragrant aromas hit you like a pang, get them out quickly.
Our wattleseed sprinkle is amazing toasted whole in a pan for a healthy, crunchy addition to your cooking.
Warndu prefers to use the terms First Nations Food, Australian Native Ingredients, Australian Native Food, Bush Botanicals, Australian Native Fruits, Australian Native spices in place of Bush Tucker and Bush Foods or Bushfoods. Read more about why we don't call it bush tucker