How to use quandong

21 August, 2018 by
Hospitality Magazine

Quandong is a small native Australian tree that produces shiny red fruit, commonly known as desert peach or native peach. The fruit was an important food source for Indigenous Australians who would eat them fresh or dried. Surplus fruits would be collected and dried for later consumption, keeping for up to eight years. Today, chefs across Australia are championing the native ingredient in a range of dishes.

GROWING AND SEASONALITY

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Quandong grows wild in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, with smaller numbers of the plant found in Queensland. In the Northern Territory, quandong populations have been in decline due to poor conditions and feral animals.

The species is hemi-parasitic, meaning it attaches itself to the roots of host plants — including acacias, bluebush and saltbush — to extract water and nutrients. Tiny flowers appear on the plant in summer, forming a shiny, red fruit that ripens in the following spring.

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FLAVOUR PROFILE

The flesh of a mature quandong has a yellow to red colour, dry texture and tart taste. The flavour profile is described as slightly sour and salty with its sweetness varying significantly between trees. Its aroma is likened to dry lentils or beans with earthy, fermented notes. Quandong has been found to have high levels of folate and vitamin E and is a good source of magnesium, zinc and iron.

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FOOD USES

While Indigenous Australians ate the fruit fresh or dried, early European settlers were known to use quandong in jams, pies and jellies. Today, quandong is found in commercial lines of jams, sauces, relishes and drinks.

Restaurants use quandong in a variety of ways and the fruit is usually supplied as whole dried fruit, sun dried or frozen. At Sydney’s 12-Micron, it’s included in a dish consisting of pork belly with pine and slippery jack mushroom and broad beans along with a dessert of strawberries, Valrhona Orelys mousse and vermouth. At Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, the fruit can be found on the tasting menu paired with kohlrabi, dorrigo pepper and lemon myrtle.

Information courtesy of Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Native Food and Botanicals and Australian National Botanic Gardens.

This article originally appeared in Hospitality‘s August issue. Subscribe here.