But as we were driving past Rookwood Cemetary, I saw these huge nuts/cones on the ground, and I wondered if those were the things. So we went into the cemetary and grabbed one to bring home.
So this is a bunya fruit/cone:
And this is what the tree looks like. I think of it as kind of mushroom looking. The Bunya Pine is the last surviving species of the Section Bunya of the genus Araucaria. This section was diverse and widespread during the Mesozoic with some species having cone morphology similar to A. bidwillii, which appeared during the Jurassic. Fossils of Section Bunya are found in South America and Europe. is native to South East Queensland. It's scientific name is Araucaria bidwillii. Though it's called a Bunya Pine it is actually not of the pine family, but it is an evergreen corniferous. It was once protected but there seem to be quite a few of them populating the Sydney region, and lots inside the Rookwood Necropolis - I would have to say there are easily more than 10. Quite a few of them are against the outside fence and if you're lucky, the cones will drop outside the fence and you can pick them up. I drove inside the cemetary and went for a short walk along the fence to pick up some lying on the ground. So the cones drop in January/February and they are big and heavy, so don't go sleeping or park your car under a Bunya tree because those cones can do some heavy damage - I swear it weighs at least 2-3kg.
I found a lot of great information from this page here. The writer is in Brisbane. So as soon as the cone starts to crack, it's time to start getting the nuts out or there is fungus growing on them making it hard. She says that the best way to get them out is to roast them on a fire, but warning they do explode! It's hard work doing it the other way, you have to get the indivdual sheaves and then boil it for half an hour and then you use tweezers or pliers to get it out.
There are a lot of bush tucker recipes for the Bunya nut. It's gluten free, so that's great! Last time we boiled it like chestnuts, but this time we might roast it. You can grind it into a flour, or you can add it to casseroles. I read about people throwing them on fires and letting them pop (which only happens when they are fresh) - which I guess is like chestnuts.
I've just listed and linked a few ways of cooking them and recipes too.
- Bunya nut cake
- Bunya nut pie
- Capsicum and Bunya nut relish
- Coat of arms pie with bunya nuts
- Bunya nut pesto
50g basil leaves
1 cup cooked bunya nuts chopped [see note below]
Garlic x 1 clove
1 cup olive oil plus extra 2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
• Place in a blender basil and garlic with oil and blend
• Add bunya nuts and blend for 6 seconds
• Add grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste (mountain pepper)
• Note cook Bunya nuts for 20 minutes in hot water until tender refresh in
cold water and cool nuts - when cool place in food processor and
granulate texture of cous cous
- Bunya nut soup
250g Bunya nut
2 litres vegetable or chicken broth
6 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups leek 1 onion, chopped
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf Place
Bunya nuts, potatoes, leek, onion, parsley and bay leaf in large pot, sauté, cover with chicken broth, cover with a lid. Cook until nuts are tender - 30 to 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and discard bay leaf. Combine some hot liquid and vegetables and blend in a blender until smooth. Bunya nuts are in season December to March. Can be frozen.
Dorrigo Pepper Crust Pastry Dough
2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon Dorrigo pepper
20g cold butter
3/4 cup light cream
Place flour and pepper in a food processor. Add butter and process until no lumps present, then add cream to make a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. To finish the soup: Roll Pastry onto floured board about 2 cm thick cut round out or desired shapes. Prick with a fork. Now either cook separately on baking tray in a 220c oven for 15 minutes or place on the soup and bake.