The door to the wonderful world of foraging opened when we first met Nick Blake, founder of Wild Forage Australia. We’re nuts about local produce and thanks to Nick, we have some pretty rad flavours on offer. He has a vast knowledge and unique understanding of the local geography and finding flavours a little out of the ordinary is his forte. As a supplier, our ability to bring unique and local produce to the table is what sets us apart. Recently we took a walk on the wild side and caught up with Nick to learn a thing or two about Bunya Nuts.
Native to Queensland, Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) are commonly found among gullies and on top of mountain ranges. Locally they’re found on the Sunshine Coast along the Bruce Highway between Nambour, North Arm, Eumundi and Cooroy. With large amounts found at the Bunya Mountains and Blackall Range near Montville and Maleny.
An integral piece of history, Bunya Nuts have been around for millions of years and have a strong culinary significance among the Indigenous culture. When the Bunya tree would fruit in the summertime, clans would travel from remote areas around South East Queensland. With an invite-only policy, these times of gathering were a symbolism of ceremony, social kinship, storytelling, singing, dancing, sharing and trading.
The Bunya Pine can grow up to 30-45 metres high and drop football-sized cones, which can weigh up to 10kg when mature. Steer clear of these giants from late January to mid-February because they’re in season! Among each Bunya cone, you can find 30-100 nuts and they must be processed and or frozen within a week of falling before the moisture sets in. “When the nuts begin to sprout from the inside the encased shell, they’re ‘no’ good.” Explains Nick.
With a high nutrient value, they’re commonly compared with the flavour of a chestnut; the texture is starchy and has an earthy-like undertone. Bunya Nuts are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and while boiling the nuts is the most common method, you can also grind them into flour, eat them fresh, roast them in a fire, make them into bunya milk, and so much more! “They work extremely well as a puree…you need lots of stock as the starch from the nuts works a bit like xanthan gum. Easily thicken six parts stock to one part bunya nuts.” says Nick.
Collaborating with like-minded individuals and inspiring one another to bring the best of the best is what keeps us motivated and is seriously why we love our job. Making great mates like Nick along the way is always a massive bonus! We feel incredibly fortunate to have such a legend apart of the Suncoast Fresh team and have been working alongside Nick for approximately three years now. “I know the guys on a first name basis. This brings real value to my product as they constantly see new season items each and every week. This interest translates to better product knowledge, which inevitably is passed onto the customers.” Says Nick.