Over Christmas I visited Tasmania for a food filled extravaganza. On one of our day trips, we stopped to take a look at the jetty on Peppermint Bay when I spotted some coastal wattles with seeds pods ready to burst. I collected the seed pods and brought them back to Brisbane to toast and use in recipes. There’s not a lot of information around about roasted or toasted wattle seeds so after giving it a go, I’m sharing my ‘how to’ with you.
Know Your Product
Before we start, a reminder that not all wattle seeds are safe to eat. There are nearly 1000 species of wattle or Acacia around the world. Some have toxins in them so if you are going to cook with foraged wattle seeds, make sure you know what variety you have. My wattle seeds were from the Acacia sophorae or, Coastal Wattle. This is a very common variety in Australia. Other safe wattle seeds to eat include the Wirilda (Ac. retinodes), Colony Wattle (Ac. murrayana) and Mulga Wattle (Ac. aneura). I have listed some resources at the bottom, to assist you.
After that stern warning, let’s get down to business. Wattle seeds and plants have been used as a food source by Australian Aborigines, the traditional owners of the land, for thousands of years. Roasted over open fires, the seeds were generally ground into a flour and then mixed with water to be baked in hot coals. The original damper! Wattle seeds are very nutritious and are a good source of protein and carbohydrates. So nutritious in fact that in the 1970’s some Australian species were exported to drought ravaged Africa, to create a hardy food staple for the population.
Foraging for Wattle Seeds
Wattles are not grown commercially for their seeds so it’s very much a cottage industry when it comes to picking and packing. Given the amount of effort it takes to prepare the seeds, I’m surprised how reasonably priced ground wattle seeds from specialist shops are. I however, had a bag of foraged wattle seeds that needed toasting so I got out the cast iron frying pan and gave it a go.
How to Toast Wattle Seeds
- wattle seeds/pods foraged from a suitable plant
- cast iron or heaving based frying pan
- Allow the wattle pods to fully dry out in a brown paper bag. Most will split and some will even release their seeds.
- Once dry, remove seeds from split pods and collect all wattle seeds that have fallen to the bottom of the paper bag.
- Remove the yellow, waxy ‘tails’ of the seeds so that each seed is clean and shiny. I’m not sure if the tails are edible but they are sticky and will burn when you toast them so it’s best to remove them.
- Place wattle seeds into the heavy frying pan over a low heat. A cast iron frying pan is ideal
- Allow pan to gently heat, shaking the toasted wattle seeds regularly.
- The wattle seeds will start to pop and dance around the pan as they toast. You will seed some of them split, almost like popcorn. (see the video below)
- Continue to shake, keeping a careful eye on the seeds, so they don’t burn. When the toasted wattle seeds smell nutty, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Transfer toasted wattle seeds to a small jar when cooled. Store in a dark place and grind in a mortar and pestle, just before use.
- Add to cakes, scones and for a very Aussie twist, to Anzac biscuits.