Who’s for strawberry gum cocktails?

Bushfood advocate Brigid Corcoran in her shop

A passion for preserving the art of cooking with bushfoods earned Brigid Corcoran a $5000 artisanal sector grant to pass on the traditions to others. The Victorian Government grant enabled Brigid to set up a small working kitchen in the cellar of her shop Saltbush Kitchen.

There she teaches how to incorporate bushfoods like wattleseed or aniseed myrtle into everyday meals or even how to concoct a bush syrup cocktail. Brigid says this is one way she is able to spread the word about the wonder of Australian bushfoods and how to integrate them into modern Australian food and drink recipes.

“I got into the whole thing by accident, when I was looking at starting up a food store that specialised in spices,” she said.

Brigid looked at what she could stock from Australia rather than overseas. She began experimenting with wattleseed and native thyme and quickly recognised the vast beauty and diversity of native bushfoods. This was the turning point for her. After extensive research, she slowly developed a small bushfood product range that started Saltbush Kitchen.

“An important step in this process was meeting with local Wadawurrung community members and other Indigenous community members, to seek guidance and advice to make sure I was being culturally respectful of our Indigenous heritage and ancient foods,” says Brigid.

When she is not teaching new techniques, she is busy whipping up new recipes like strawberry gum cocktails, pepperberry lamb and kunzea and orange rind biscuits. “I’ve found that people don’t tend to try bushfoods in their own recipes because they’re either uncertain how they taste or unfamiliar with how they can be used as replacements for the ingredients they always use, so the classes help,” she says.

For more information on Agriculture Victoria’s Artisanal Sector Program, go to: agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/food-and-fibre-industries/artisanal-agriculture/about

Pictured: Brigid Corcoran displays bushfoods at her shop in Buninyong

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