Wattleseed: An Indigenous Australian Spice

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Wattleseeds are seeds of acacia trees that are native to Australia. They have played a key role in the indigenous Australian diet for millennia. Some historians say they have been doing it for more than 4,000 years though they were most likely in use for far longer. The flower of the acacia plant that produces the wattleseed is Australia’s national emblem and is what the green and gold worn by Australian sports teams are supposed to represent.

Not all acacia seeds are edible, but many of the edible varieties are both flavorful and nutritious.

The traditional method used by Native Australians to process the wattleseed was to grind it between two stones. Traditionally, the task of milling wattleseed was performed by women. Often multiple women milled the wattleseed along with other seeds or nuts.

The ground seeds were then made into a dough and baked as cakes in ovens dug into the ground and filled with coals. In some cases, the dough or paste made with the seeds could be eaten raw. Some varieties of wattleseed were eaten green like peas.

Wattleseed

In the modern era, white wheat flour has largely replaced wattleseed flour in native Australian communities, which has contributed to a rise in diabetes and other health problems.

Wattleseed has been cultivated in Africa beginning in the 1970s. Because it is naturally drought-resistant, it was seen as a way to provide nutrition to populations subject to regular droughts.

Today, most of the wattleseed supply comes from foraging in the wild as well as cultivated wattleseed. As a result, the size of the harvest can vary from year to year.

Wattleseed flavor profile

Wattle seeds flavor is often likened to a complex blend of coffee, chocolate and hazelnut with accent notes of raisins and sweet spices.

Health benefits of wattleseed

Along with its flavor, wattleseed has been in use for thousands of years because of its nutritional value. Some have even dubbed it a superfood. It is considered a highly nutritious food because it contains compounds like:

  • Minerals: Wattleseed is a good source of several important minerals including iron, calcium and zinc.
  • Protein: One of the properties that make wattleseeds such an excellent source of nutrients is their high-protein content.
  • Antioxidants: Wattleseed is full of antioxidants that help to fight free radicals and neutralize oxidative stress.
  • Folate: Wattleseed is a good source of the B vitamin folate, which is essential for DNA synthesis.

With wattleseed in your diet, you may be able to treat, manage or prevent health problems like:

  • Diabetes: Wattleseeds have a low glycemic index, which means that they do not cause your blood sugar to spike. As a result, they are less likely to cause the insulin insensitivity that leads to diabetes.
  • Osteoporosis: The calcium in wattleseed can help to fight the loss in bone density that often comes as a result of aging and menopause.
  • Dementia: The folate in wattleseed may help to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Research has shown that folate deficiency is associated with dementia.

Common uses

Wattleseed is used for its flavor in desserts like ice cream or it can be added to chocolate to make it more flavorful. Along with dishes in which it is used to improve taste and aroma, ground wattleseed works as a thickener in sauces. Wattleseed is also used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.


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