The Grocer: Rosellas
Is it a bird? Yes. But rosellas – or more specifically, wild rosellas – are also a versatile little plant, best known for being squished into a delightfully fruity jam.
While we’ve been led to believe that wild rosellas are a true-blue Australian bush food, they are actually native to Africa and Asia. Luckily for us, it has made itself quite at home in Australia, especially in the far northern reaches, from Cairns in the east through to Broome in the west.
Always a talking point, the entirely-edible rosella plant is characterised by its rhubarb-red stems and pretty pink flowers. But the truly eye-catching element is its fruit – the vibrant red, fleshy calyx, which is akin to a tiny, spiky capsicum. If eaten on its own, the calyx tastes similar to a slightly sour plum. For that reason, it is typically paired up with a bucket load of sugar and used as an ingredient in ‘bush tucker’ jam, tangy salad dressings, and fancy cordial. Meanwhile, dried calyx is often used for hot or iced tea and is known for its refreshing tart, lemony flavour.
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