Thursday, February 10, 2011

No-fuss Bunya Nut Cookery

Araucaria bidwillii
It’s the Season again, so keep an eye out for roadside stalls selling the cones.
We bought this one at Blackbutt last weekend. The sellers saw us coming and immediately changed the price - from $2.00 to $1.00! The people were tired of tending the stand, and just wanted to get rid of the 60-cone yield of their tree. This classic Australian food is ridiculously under-valued!
It is one of our best "bush tucker plants", and a great choice for people wanting to do environmentally friendly Australian permaculture.

This cone was 24cm long, 18cm in diameter, and weighed 3.5kg - a larger and heavier item than your head.
It contained 56 nuts.

Cones can be even larger than this, with up to 80 nuts. Under a bunya tree is not a good place to loiter, in the season. Neither is it a suitable place to park your car!
To gather the nuts, it is most usual, these days, to wait till the cone starts to fall to pieces. Fresh-fallen cones can be jemmied apart, however - and Aborigines used to climb the trees to collect unripe cones, whose tender young nuts are said to be an outstanding delicacy - sweet and creamy.
Aborigines also ate old nuts. They would to bury them (in their shells, in string bags) in the mud of creeks, to preserve them for later eating. They would dig them up again once they had sprouted. As with all sprouting seeds, this increases their vitamin content. Bunya seeds treated this way also developed a very offensive smell, which was passed onto everything that touched them - but were considered to be a gourmet treat. All who enjoy garlic will sympathise with those who considered that the subsequent bad breath was worth the taste sensation.
Modern cooks, however, might prefer to preserve their bunya nuts in the fridge This is said to sweeten the flavour, as also happened with the buried nuts, but presumably doesn’t let them develop their full odour. Lovers of blue-veined cheese might like to try the burying option!
The nuts can also be frozen.

According to Wikipedia, their nutritional content is: 40% water, 40% complex carbohydrates, 9% protein, 2% fat, 0.2% potassium, 0.06% magnesium. They are gluten free. They have a healthy glycaemic index (GI) rating , variously measured at 50 - 75. By contrast, other tree nuts have 50-75% fat and under 20%carbohydrates. Bunya nuts have more in common with cereals than with other nuts.
The traditional “whitefella” way to cook bunya nuts is to boil them for 30 minutes in their shells, in salted water, having first cut or slit the shell, so it won’t explode. Some would add salt to the water - and boiling them with bacon bones is a particularly delicious alternative.
The boiled shells are tough and fibrous. They are easier to peel than raw nuts, but not much. Long-nosed pliers, washed to kitchen-clean standards, are a useful tool.
Modern cooks have since invented may more complex, interesting and exciting ways of opening and cooking them, using such tools as secateurs, microwaves, blenders, bread knives, machetes, wooden blocks and a need for leather gloves. See the internet for a multiplicity of methods.
However, for those (like me) who just want to cook the things and eat them in various delicious ways without making heavy weather of the whole procedure, the old way is still the best.

So, you’ve got hold of a Bunya Cone.
What do you do?

Take care. Those prickly points are sharp!

The easiest way to get the nuts out is to wait until the cone starts to break up of its own accord.

Then you free them from their husks. A sharp knife helps you peel them back from the tip.

While they are still a bit damp from the cone (or have been saved in a plastic bag in the fridge, so they won’t dry out), you hold them with one hand and tap them with a hammer to split the tips open.

This is best done outdoors on bricks or some such, and done rather scientifically so as not to damage the kernel. You’ll notice that the nutshells have a seam down each side, and this is where you should hit. All that’s needed is a gentle tap, to produce a tiny split at the point. (If this doesn't work, as sometimes happens in humid weather when the shell is just not crisp, a small snip with secateurs does the job.)

A breach in the shell before cooking allows steam to escape, and stops the nut from exploding as it cooks.

Then roast them for 30 minutes. An oven at 200° Celsius does the trick, but I imagine it would also work well as a campfire activity.
You’ll notice that the splits in the shell increase as the nuts cook.

Give them five minutes to cool. (The now-crisp shell cools fast, the kernel only slowly.) Then hit them gently with a hammer again, concentrating on those side-seams.
Once you have the knack, which doesn’t take long to acquire, you’ll find the shell falls open into its two parts, and the nut can be lifted out whole.

You can eat it at once. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavour and a waxy-floury texture.
You can also subject it to a great variety of culinary processes. Marinating, cooking in soup, or serving with a sauce or a dip are my favourites. The nuts are also good in salads. I like a simple salad with nuts, home-made mayonnaise, and a good handful of chopped young rocket leaves.

Fresh nuts, eaten and cooked as soon as the cone will let you get at them, have the best flavour. Nuts left lying around or stored, tend to be less nutty and more floury. This means they are less good as a simple, unadorned snack, but that they are very good at absorbing marinades, sauces, and so on.

Many of our early settlers had a horror of eating anything their European forebears hadn’t brought to Australia with them, so tended to undervalue this useful and tasty food. They even invented the myth that the little green shoot within the nut is poisonous. In reality, it is just as edible as the rest of the nut, and only adds to its nutritional value.

A Good Cutter for Opening Nuts
Reader Philip Margolis emailed me to tell me about the bunya not cutter he has invented. I am very impressed. It looks like a very effective machine, so I asked him if I could share his photos of it with other readers.

 It is made from a piece 100x50mm hardwood, 540mm long, with a slot sawn along it's length. 
Philip fabricated the wedge shaped blade out of an old saw blade, mounted it on to a wooden handle, and attached  at one end of the piece of wood with a bolt. It acts like a guillotine, and he says it slices through the nuts at a rapid rate.

The area where the nuts are placed is shaped to hold the nut securely. The nut is paced point away from the hinge end, and curve of nut (if there is one) down. 

Note also the slot. It should be wide enough to clean out easily. 

The bend in the handle is important, as it ends up parallel with the cutter when the blade is closed."

Philip went on to say: “I sun dry the sliced opened nuts, then grind them into a flour which I use to make delicious pancakes, or as a coating for fried fish. I am sure there are many other ways that it could be used.
I also cook the raw nuts in casseroles, as a substitute for potatoes.”

Thank you for those ideas, Philip.

Growing Bunya Trees for Nuts.

Fresh seed germinates easily if kept damp. The plants grow best if subjected to ordinary good gardening practices - watering, mulching, and fertilising. Ordinary balanced fertiliser, as for veges, is best, (as for all Australian native plants of rainforest origin). Don't use special “native plant” fertiliser, as this may be too low in phosphorus for them. (It is a fallacy that native plants all need special fertiliser. the special mix for natives is designed for those plants that grow naturally on phosphorus-poor soil. There are a lot of these, but they don't include rainforest plants.)
Young trees produce only male flowers, which are at the end of the branches. Then at around 15 years they begin to produce female flowers on the inner third of their branches.

The trees will produce more nuts if grown in groups. They are wind-pollinated, and this female-over-male flower arrangement is designed to prevent the female flowers from being fertilised by pollen from the male flowers of their own tree.
For more on Bunya Trees see Jan 2008 and April 2009.


Sue said...

What a fabulous website with great, useful information that is easy to understand and follow.I have followed your instructions to get the kernel out the shell by roasting them and then using the hammer to crack the shell further which worked very well. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge!

Sue, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Patricia Gardner said...

Thanks for the comment, Sue.
I tried a marinade of soy sauce, garlic and honey. The resulting nuts were very nice indeed in a stir-fry with brown rice.
Tell me if you come up with any good recipes!

Unknown said...

Before I found your site, I boiled my bunya nuts then left them in my fruit dish for a coupla months while wondering what to do next, then decided to hit them with a hammer. Now the kernels are harder than the shells ... Thanks for the sensible info, I'll do it your way next season!

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia, I purchased 3kg of bunya nuts off ebay for about $10kg with postage. I've had a go at boiling them. I found the best way to open them was to hold one with the point going away from my hand, boiling will split the nut at the tip.I put the nut on a bunched up tea towel to hold it steady.( I discover the tea towel idea after I nearly took off my thumb) I then got a big wide carving knife & vertically cut down into the nut then right through the tip if the nut, then turning the nut onto it's fat base, I put the blade of the knife across the top & pushed the knife down with both hands cutting it in half. It was then easy to pick out the kernel.Would be easier to understand with diagrams :)
I guess the Bunya nut would lend itself to any recipe that uses pine nuts, water chestnuts, chestnuts or potato. I would imagine one could make an interesting potato salad with the boiled nuts.

Patricia Gardner said...

Isn't it amazing what you can buy on ebay, Marie!
Thanks for the technique suggestion. Were you doing this with the nut still hot and wet, or did you wait for it to cool? (I am wondering whether the technique would be easier with a hot nut.)

Navimie said...

This post is great! The nutritional info is really useful too!

I've been boiling my nuts for half an hour (I tried roasting them but that didn't go well) but I would like to see if I can crack them and then roast them. I actually used kitchen scissors to get my nuts out - I put the point of the scissors into the soft point of the nut and then cut through it. I made a list of all the recipes I could find on the internet on my site on this post here, so I hope you guys can find something useful to cook (I was thinking of doing pesto with mine)

Oh, and I went looking for some HUGE cones, and the most I got out of one cone was 92!

Patricia Gardner said...

I wonder if 92 is a record? That's plenty of tucker from one cone, isn't it? And if your tree has 100 cones, like the one in Toowoomba which made it into the newspaper recently...
It's just as well they keep in the fridge!
I haven't tried pesto, but it sounds good.

Anonymous said...

I was just given a Bunya nut because my friend didn't know what to do with it. There were 90 nuts in it.
Half are in the oven now. I will try boiling the other half. Thanks for the great info on how to cook them.

Patricia Gardner said...

I hope they were delicious, Dawn.

Telen said...

i have stumbled across a bunya nut cone that has not yet begun to fragment. you mentioned the unripe nuts are a delicasey with a creamier texture, do i boil them just the same?

Patricia Gardner said...

Yes, they need to be cooked just the same. You can boil them, or cook them in the traditional aboriginal manner which was to roast them. Of course it is more traditional to use a fire than an oven, but the oven works.

OzPolly said...

Great post, thank you. I'm always open to ANY different idea for opening Bunyas, but will have to wait until next season to try yours.

The basic profile of bunya nuts seems to be similar to that of chestnuts, similar amount of moisture, fat, protein and carbs. Rather than trying to use bunyas as a pine nut, with which they have little similarity outside of appearance, try using recipes for chestnuts.

My latest project has been dehydrating the nuts to grind into flour. Boiled (pressure cooker for 40 mins), dehusked in a manner similar to that described by Anonymous, dried and ground they make a light brown flour. The flour from the cooked nuts makes a beautiful pasta, replacing strong white flour at a rate of 1:2.

My first batch of nuts dried whole and unhusked has just cooled. Cutting off the tips with secateurs helps speed the drying, but it is still slow! I husked them at various stages of dryness and as could be predicted, the driest were the easiest to crack, but did not retain the milky whiteness of the fresher, less dry ones. The inner skin stains the nut, more staining the longer dried. I cant wait to see what if any difference it makes to the pasta using flour from the uncooked nuts.

Next thing to try is bunya flour scones, using a recipe originally for chestnut flour. I'll try flour from cooked and uncooked bunyas to see what, besides colour the difference is.

Again, thank you for the post! I didn't stumble across your blog until recently and I'm enjoy reading the back posts.


Patricia Gardner said...

Nice to hear from you, Peggy.
And thanks for the extra ideas. I'll be interested to hear your future results.

Unknown said...

Hello, i want buy several bunya seeds to replicate in my country house .can you ship it to Russia ?

Patricia Gardner said...

Hello Pavel.
I am sorry, but I do not supply plants. This blog is not an advertising site!
I wish you well with obtaining the seeds you want, and would like to hear how they grow in Russia, if you succeed in obtaining them.

Theresa said...

Excellent blog. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I have 3 bunya pines in the garden but never used the nuts. I can't wail till it fruits again! Warm regards from Argentina. Theresa

Patricia Gardner said...

Nice to hear from you, Theresa.
Think of us over here in Australia while you are enjoying your bunya nuts.

FarmDiary said...

Our tree has mature nuts in the cones for the first time this year. Garden loppers (like big long handled secateurs) worked well for me after I had boiled the bunyas for 20 mins. The extra leverage with the long handles makes short work of it. I live in the border ranges south of Beaudesert Qld.

Patricia Gardner said...

Excellent hint. Thank you very much.

Indianna Smith said...

hi i have found a bunya nut and i was wondering if you could cook them over a stove?

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Indianna.
Anything goes!
I suggest you experiment, and find your own favourite cooking and opening techniques.
I was talking to a friend this week who has about 60 trees on his property. In the nut season he gives up buying potatoes and eats bunya nuts instead. He has made a guillotine out of an old machete, and he chops them in half before cooking, and microwaves them.
I'd love to hear how you went.

Cheryl said...

Great site. thank you.
We just made a fabulous bunya nut curry. Make your usual favourite recipe and add the cooked/peeled half nuts near the end. Nuts stay moist and delicious.
Lighty fried pieces in garlic butter after they are boiled and shelled is yummy too.
I also make a bunya nut pesto. Follow pesto recipe but I always add a little lemon juice or even a very small amount of quality balsamic vinegar to keep mixture green. Parmesen cheese also suits this pesto

JohnB said...

My technique this year was to use a small drill and drill each near the tip (treated this way they do not explode when heated) - this can be done very quickly and so my cache is done quickly. Roasting next. I do these either under the grill by selecting roughly the same size nuts on moderate heat until they begin to lightly color. If you want you can turn them over and roast the other side though that is optional.

I cut mine in half with a large kitchen knife, some I have to hold with tongs so they sit still roasted side up - make sure of your cutting technique as you do need to put some down force into it. I found this to be quick and easy - 20 minutes and you are into hot juicy Bunya nuts or if you can beat the temptation you can put some in the fridge for later.

Patricia Gardner said...

Thanks John, for another good cookery hint.
I find I haven't succeeded in microwaving them without getting tough nuts. Anyone got any good hints for success with a microwave?
And Cheryl, your recipes sound mouthwatering. I'll try the curry tonight.

Anonymous said...

I was given a bag of these by a friend. I wizzed them with a large potato, 2 eggs, garlic and half cup of parmesean cheese. Into the frypan like pancakes....yummo!

Patricia Gardner said...

Thanks for sharing. It sounds delicious.
I was given bunya nut pesto recently. I must admit that I didn't think it was as good as pesto made with pine nuts. owever, I was told that it also makes very good hummus, substituting the bunya nuts for the chickpeas. Must try that!
I find that my microwaving friend BOILS them in the microwave! He pours boiling water over them to submerge them, and cooks them for 12 minutes. (I had tried microwaving them with just a tablespoon of water in the bottom as I do with veges, and wondered how he could eat those hard, horrible things!)

Anonymous said...

whats the best way to store cooked bunya nuts after they have been shelled

Andrew said...

I live in the Blue Mountains NSW and have a Bunya tree and it had 9 cones, but all the seeds had no nut inside the shell. It does not have another bunya close by. Is it because it isn't fertilised or is the climate not right. Any ideas?

Patricia Gardner said...

What a terrible shame, Andrew!
Yes, it would be because the (female) cones weren't fertilised by the male flowers lower down on the tree. Bunya trees can self-fertilise, as some of them have demonstrated, but it must require some tricksy winds at the right moment. Gravity is against them!
It does make the point that we need to understand our plants' needs. We can't save rare species by planting just one in our garden, as it may never have babies - and we can't count on edibles from a lonely tree.
Have you room to plant another? People tell me that they get fruit in 9 years, but the tree would have to be given a bit of mulch, water, and loving. The more friends it has, the better it will fruit of course, so perhaps you can persuade the neighbours to get into the act as well?
Best wishes.

Jill Dyson said...

Am so excited a Facebook friend gave me a link to your blog! I found 6 cones this week and posted a photo asking if anyone knew how to cook them - and your blog has heaps of ideas. Thanks! Must get in quickly because the chestnut season is about to start here in the Southern Highlands NSW and I love eating them too. It does sound as though they need to be handled in a similar way. Cheers, Jill from FoodPath Tours

Patricia Gardner said...

Nice to hear from you, Jill.
I've never eaten chestnuts, so for me it's only hearsay that they are alike. You'll have to tell me what you think.
(Many years ago when I lived in Tasmania, I bought chestnuts with the intention of eating them. Having no idea how to cook them, I didn't know about piercing the shell. My husband and I put them by the fire in the living room fire-place to roast. Picture us, shortly afterwards, hiding behind the chairs, as chestnut artillery bombarded the room! All enthusiasm for chestnuts was shocked out of us, and we never tried again.
In those pre-internet days, it was not so easy to find out how to cook some unfamiliar food.)

Caetano Medeiros said...

Hi, I've been in Australia for 7 years and I could never find Bunya Nuts to buy. Can someone help me please?
In my country I used to eat Araucaria Pine Nuts which are very similar to Bunya Nuts. I love it, and in winter you can easily find it.
I am craving for it. I had a look on Ebay and bush tucker shops, but nothing. Please, anyone that could help me to find. I don't mind having to travel miles to get them :)

Carmel said...

We have several Bunya Nuts if anyone wants them.
We are on the Sunshine Coast near Eumundi and our trees produce every January. I haven't tried cooking them before!

Unknown said...

Does anyone know the acidity/alkalinity levels of the bunya nut eaten after boiling?

Lissa, Brisbane Local Food said...

Caetano - they are cropping now in January so that would be the time to look for them. I bought some yesterday from a local farmers market.
These are the first Bunyas I have ever tried. I should have looked up the cooking method first but being a bit impatient I put six in a saucepan of salted water and boiled them for ages, possibly hours.
After reading all the comments here I have opened one with a large knife and just eaten it. Nice. Might have been better hot and fresh. Maybe I have boiled them to death.
I have a group of gardening friends coming over next weekend and I will try serving some up for them to try. Oven is out of commission at the moment so boiling is the only option. Thanks for the info :)

Unknown said...

I just fried some husked and halved nuts in a little bit of butter for about 7-10 minutes, fantastic.

Anonymous said...

We cut the raw nuts in half (almost) and pressure cook in salty water for about 8-10 Minutes (at pressure). The nuts just pop out of their shell. Delicious!

Carla said...

First knowledges from Bunya Bunya to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Carla said...

OzPolly how do you dry the Bunya nuts?

Patricia Gardner said...

What a lot of you have been finding and eating bunya nuts this season!
Thanks very much to those of you who have added your own cooking methods to my blog. All greatly appreciated.
You would all have appreciated the customer we had at the Crows Nest Nursery last year who loves the nuts so much he called in to buy another 60 trees to put in on his property. He told us he regards them as a staple food, and eats them daily during the season.
And it's good to hear from Carla in Buenos Aires. You will have recognised the Bunya tree, Carla, as being closely related to the wonderful South American Araucaria araucana, which we English speakers know as the "monkey puzzle tree".

Carla said...

Bunya Adventure´s full of I´m wondering if I could open the shells raw... could you?

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Carla.
I find them too tough.
The only people I know of who open them raw do so by cutting them in half, either with a large knife, or a big guillotine, then cooking the half-nuts, which are conveniently bite-sized.
Peter Ayres (above)refers to husking and halving them, but doesn't say whether he husks them before halving. Perhaps Peter might like to tell us his method?
Let us know if you find a good method.

Anonymous said...

I found some Bunya nuts for sale at Mrs Flannerys at Taringa. Found the easiest way to get the nuts out was with secauteurs.

Unknown said...

Love that website, very informative, I just popped a few in those little round glass oven and after 15mn they started exploding! Very entertaining :)

Dianne Hoy said...

A few seasons ago my husband made a bunya nut cutter. It has a wooden base with a groove to stand the nut upright at one end. At the other end, a wooden block wedges the tip of a large old, but sharp, knife. We cut the nuts in half, remove the shell and then cook. Works like a treat.

Patricia Gardner said...

What fun you've all been having! Thanks for writing in to my blog, and sharing your ideas and experiences.
Yves, I'm curious to know, are there bunya trees growing in France?
We're having a big year for bunya nuts in Queensland. This usually means a poor season next year, so do take advantage of the nuts while they are there!

Unknown said...

Hi I live in mt Kembla and have two bunya trees. I've found a few cones in the past and always wondered if the nuts could be eaten. In the past two weeks 12 cones have hit the ground and I now have two bags of nuts! I love chestnuts so I'm looking forward to eating these. With chestnuts I score the nut before roasting. Do I need to do the same with bunya nuts before I put them in a camp fire? Thanks Steve

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Stave.
Nice to hear from you.
You need to do a bit more than score the nuts before you cook them. You need to make sure that the air between the nut and the the hard outer shell has an escape route, so it can get out while expanding from being heated up.
I suggest reading through the comments above for lots of good ideas - and don't miss the description by Yves of what happens when you don't make an escape route for the air!

West Ender- Brisbane said...

Following that bunya thread was a treat. Thank you all contributors. There is a hyper-pruned tree in the next street (making way for power lines) and I spotted a massive cone underneath. I have no idea how it managed to produce such a monster cone given only round a third of the foliage remains. Another cone is about to root there so I'm kidnapping it to plant in the remnants of the Gully nearby. Compensating I hope for the tall beauty removed from Ferry Rd West End to make way for another high rise with river views. We are so evil! I'm going to do a boil up and share with my retirement village companions and take some uncooked ones to the rightful owners in Musgrave Park. I do hope they'll get roasted on a campfire there.

Patricia Gardner said...

Great to hear that you're planting some, West-ender.
I think the trick is to find somewhere where you think the tree would realistically have a long-term future.
If everyone planted a few nuts in their lifetime, we'd leave something great for posterity. The trick of getting good germination is to plant the nuts while still very fresh. Results can be very quick - shoots in less than a week or two. Put the seed in with a minimum of soil covering it (or no soil, if it can be kept wet), and lying on its side. Planting now, while there is good soil moisture is a big help, and a light covering of mulch to help the nut stay damp while it germinates.
Cheers, Trish

Unknown said...

I have boiled my bunya nuts and got them out of the husk. The first few were pale and creamy, then they started to be discoloured, with brown and reddy tinges. These nuts appears ok, not mouldy or shrunken, but are they safe to eat?

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Nat.
They should be fine. The discoloration probably comes from the husk as they are boiling.
However, it is definitely the case that the fresher the nuts are when you cook them the nicer they are. I'm not sure, but this they would also be less likely to be discoloured.

alemão bertini said...

I live in the southest part of brazil and we have another kind of auracarea pine tree, that grow seeds very similar to bunya nuts called "pinhão". Most people prepare them in two ways: toasting them in a hot saucepan and breaking their shells when they're dark but not burned with a wooden hammer. Or boiling them for about 40 minutes in a pressure pan. In this last method, after letting them cool, we bite the shell in thickest part of the seed (the big round part),so that the flesh of the seed will pressure the other tip from inside and break it. After you've done this, you can eat it plain, dip it in salt or sauce or use it to make very tasty salads or a good risoto.

Patricia Gardner said...

That's really interesting, Alemão. Thank you for the information and the cooking tips.
The bunya nut "shells" must be tougher than those of the pinhão. I have never tried to squeeze out the flesh by biting the nut, but I don't think it would be possible.
Readers might be interested to look up pinhão on the internet, for more information on this interesting Gondwanan relative of our own bunya nut.

Grahame said...

I am growing two Bunya Nut trees in the South West of Western Australia in Augusta , both trees are growing fast and have put on a half metre in 12 months , I was very impressed with this site to learn how to treat the nuts.

Grahame - Augusta

Pat said...

Thanks for the information It has been great to read.
I have a question about the best way to store the nut.
Can they be stored dry or should it be in a refrigerated state?

Is it best to peel them completely or cook, peel and freeze?

I made pesto with some nuts this afternoon without cooking the nut and it tasted great!! I hadn't read the recipe correctly!
Now I plan to try a pesto with cooked nuts and see if there is a difference.
I used parsley not basil as the basil season is finished here in Castlemaine Victoria

Patricia Gardner said...

Hello Pat.
Thanks for your comment, Pat
I have no experience with freezing them so can't comment on that, but perhaps some other readers can?
Thanks for the interesting tip about using raw nuts.
I have always assumed that refrigeration would be necessary, just to stop the unshelled seeds from germinating. For storage after cooking I refrigerate them in a sealed container because we usually eat them whole and they are prone to drying out. However dry storage might be fine if flour or pesto is what you are storing them for. It just needs someone to give it a go, and then let us know.

it said...

hi all, i got about 20 huge nuts from the Fitzroy gardens in melbourne a few months back. I have left them to dry(and with lack of time to open them) and just cracked one open and toasted and eaten it...sooo delicious and sweet. Is it ok to leave them for so long?? I do hope so!!

Patricia Gardner said...

I see no reason why it wouldn't be OK to keep them. If they taste good, they probably are good.
There is a story that Aborigines used to bury them in damp soil and eat them after they went mouldy.
I rather doubt that the story is true. (I wouldn't trust mould, myself, as some mould species are very toxic.) Buried seeds are more likely to germinate and grow into healthy little trees, than to go mouldy.
Perhaps what really happened is that Aborigines ate them at the newly-sprouted stage, when I suppose they would have been as sweet and nutritious as bean sprouts. Perhaps the "mouldy" story is one of those things that used to be said by people who were so convinced of their own superiority to Aborigines that they would always jump to conclusions about what they were doing,and find a reason to criticise without bothering to check their facts.

Anonymous said...

Hi, just got some nuts and am experimenting. So far I really enjoyed a sage and nut cream sauce over pasta or gnocchi. Get butter, melt it and add sage leaves 10-20, chopped bunya nuts, garlic, and saute till slightly browned. Add a cup or so of cream, about half a cup of grated parmesan cheese and allow the flavours to blend. Salt and black pepper to taste. Serve over pasta.

Patricia Gardner said...

That makes my mouth water!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the great info. I am planning on using my bunya nuts to make bunya nut flat breads for naidoc week for a school activity. May I ask your opinion? Should I prepare the nuts by roasting/boiling and then freeze them until I need them or do I store them as is in the fridge till I need them.

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Desiree.
I am delighted to hear that you're using a good native food plant for teaching about Aboriginal culture. I have sometimes thought that children think with their tummies, so it makes the point very well!
I have no personal experience of storing nuts for very long. We always eat them when we have them. However I know that other people do it. To me, cooking then freezing sounds like a good idea. Maybe if they are boiled they would need to be dried well afterwards, for that kind of cooking?
You might be better to ask someone else, or research further, though.
Alternatively, if you live in Bunya country, you might like to take a leaf out of the Aboriginal calendar, and use your bunya nuts now, when they are in season. It could make an even better good school lesson if done that way. One thing you have to say about Aboriginal people is that they took advantage of our real seasons, not living their lives according to an artificially imposed calendar.

Unknown said...

Hello. I have some bunya nuts unshelled that have been in the fridge for over a year. We just never got around to boiling or roasting them. Would they still be okay? They haven’t sprouted.

Patricia Gardner said...

I'm afraid your guess is as good as mine!
I can only suggest you boil them up and give them a try. They do keep well in the fridge, but I have never tried it for longer than about 8 months. They were fine, so maybe year-old ones would be, too.
Obviously you shouldn't eat anything that looks suspicious(mould, or strange colours), and anything that smells off.
Otherwise, I imagine that staleness or dryness are likely to be the only problems.
Whether to eat them or not is something only you can decide.

Unknown said...

I found my first bunya nut today and found it quite easy to open the raw nuts with a hose cutter I had from Bunnings. It didn't work so well on the nuts I boiled in their husks...

Patricia Gardner said...

That sounds like a great suggestion. Thank you.

Toni said...

From the fresh fallen green cone how long did you have to wait for it to start opening up? I got my first one yesterday and all seams are still tightly closed

Patricia Gardner said...

If your cone is ripe, it may take a week or two for the segments to start loosening up. It shouldn't take long in this hot weather.
If the cone is not ripe, take to it with a hatchet. The seeds will still be good to eat.

Unknown said...

We found a couple of cones on the road the other day and had know idea what to do with them. I think we're now going to try your roasting method. Thank you, This was really helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just give the pointed end a slight crunch in between my molars, then eat raw or boil after the crunch, best tool is within our mouths :)

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi - and thanks for the tip.
I love it.
No doubt this method was used for many thousands of years before anyone thought to try using a tool to open the nuts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia,
I´m Mirta from Buenos Aires, Argentina. We have this huge araucaria growing in our garden and we thought it was from Patagonia. But last year it gave a couple of big cones and we found out that it is really a Bunja!!! These last two weeks we were collecting at least 12 cones and now we have hundreds (literally) of seeds. Your blog has been of great help to us.
Thank you so much and greetings from South America.

Patricia Gardner said...

Hello Mirta.
It is great to hear from you. Greetings from Australia!
I hope you have been enjoying a feast of Bunya nuts.

Andrea said...

Bunyas are supposed to fruit every three years, ours is so big it just does it's thing every year. So many cones, so we are experimenting with best ways to use them. A cone goes a fair way.

Unknown said...

I got 107 nuts in my first ever Bunya!

Meg said...

Thanks so much for this useful article. We're having a bumper season here on the NSW Central Coast and I've picked up 10 from the side of the road!

A tip for getting them out of the cones; there's no need for a sharp knife. If you turn the cone section over they will easily just pop out.

Patricia Gardner said...

Congratulations to "Unknown". 107 nuts is a terrific haul.
And thanks for the comment, Meg.
Yes. there is a of variability in how easy it is to break up the cones, and to get the outer husk off the nut. It depends on the freshness of the cone that you are dealing with.
We made Bunya nut pesto today, and it's a good thing we are not socialising. We were generous with the garlic. Delicious, but I imagine we have dragon breath.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I bought some bunya nuts on eBay but unfortunately they have mould on the nuts. Can I clean the mould off and then cook them or would the nuts be contaminated?
Many thanks Kaye

Patricia Gardner said...

Hello Kaye
I am sorry but I can't comment on that. There are many different species of mould, and I would not hve any way of knowing whether your particular one is harmful.
On the whole, I think it is unwise ever to eat anything mouldy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia and readers. I’ve just run across the oddest thing. One cone has nut flesh of a pale to medium peachy pink!

The small cone is very fresh, just beginning to separate with no indications of any mould or other discolouration on any part of it.

The kernels are quite plump, slightly less angular than the shape I am accustomed to The flesh is more crisp, a little less ’floury’, damper. The flesh from halved raw nuts is a bit more reluctant to part from the shell. The little shoot is greener, less yellow than in the nuts from other cones. They smell very good, no mustiness.

Any idea what I’ve got? Is it an age thing? It’s been windy enough to possibly knock down less mature nuts. Could it be a difference with the particular tree? Not my tree so no others with which to compare it.

Hope someone can shed some light on this peculiarity

Patricia Gardner said...

Thanks for sharing this strange little oddity. I can't offer any explanation for it. Are the nuts the usual size?

Anonymous said...

They are slightly smaller, and the cone was small and nearly round. I also asked in a bushfoods group on Facebook and several people said the nuts were getting ready to sprout and that the colour change is normal. That’s a big surprise to me because the cone was only just starting to split. Possibly the heat and/or rain we’ve been having was an influence.

Patricia Gardner said...

I have certainly seen them start to sprout without any colour change.
However I have since talked to someone who loves the nuts and has had them from a number of sources during his life. He has seen them peach-coloured, and also a slightly greenish yellow. His opinion is colour variation is just part of the natural variability of the species - but that they are all good to eat!

Anonymous said...

Opening another few cones from the same source, I think your friend is right. A few nuts were starting to sprout, but only the chalky white ones, none of the pretty coloured ones were anywhere near that stage. I had a reply elsewhere that the person had also seen nuts naturally coloured a saffron yellow.

It would be great to see some selective breeding happening, but with the time and space needed it will take a special person to do that. It would also be nice if it happened here, unlike how the macadamia was co-opted; it’s surprising how many people think the macadamia is native to Hawaii.

Off to try to replicate the nut cutter you show

Patricia Gardner said...

Thanks for that comment.
In my own case, I had less than satisfactory nuts this year. They had been lying on the ground a bit too long, and a few were sprouting. The flavour is not up to much. They hadn't changed colour though. I think that as with people, there are differences between trees.
Meanwhile the lesson is that the fresher the nuts, the better the flavour.
Good luck with the chopper.