I first heard about the bunya nut over two years ago whilst touring historic Elizabeth Farm, Australia's oldest remaining European dwelling, which happens to also be on my street, in historic Parramatta. I was hella keen to get my hands on those nuts, and recently I did, as bunya season has just been and gone (late summer, get 'em before the critters do, they love them too).
The Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii), grows to a height of 30–45 metres, and the cones, which contain the edible kernels, are the size of footballs. It is found naturally in south-east Queensland, north eastern Queensland's World Heritage listed Wet Tropics and there are many fine old planted specimens in New South Wales, and around the Perth.
The ripe cones fall to the ground in summer. Each segment contains a kernel in a tough protective shell, which will split when boiled or put in a fire. They were commonly eaten by indigenous Australians.
The flavour of the kernel is similar to chestnut or pine nut... And it's BLOODY DELICIOUS!!!
I used a hammer to crack open the shell pods. Then I pan roasted these delicious, crunchy, native, wild foraged local bunya nuts in butter, tossed 'em in my homemade pesto and topped my buttery sweet potato mash with it. Homemade pastured chicken and duck liver pâte in the background. Talk about a taste sensation. Those delicious bunya nuts really hit the spot. Can't wait for next year's season!