Three years ago I turned a section of the garden into a small native plantation, hoping to cut down on erosion and mowing, and to provide a bit of extra bird habitat. Unsurprisingly, this year ALL the Lilly Pillys flowered and fruited abundantly and I panicked and was forced to pop several kilograms of fruit in the freezer.
To process the Lilly Pillys, first you leave the container outside on its side for a few hours to give the insects a chance to escape … especially the ones that bite.
Then you rinse them and pick out the rubbish – stems, leaves and bruised fruit etc…
Then you either pop them in the freezer for later use, or …
You make Lilly Pilly Gin (of course!) Give them a quick blast in the food processor, and then put them in a glass jar with a bottle of reasonable quality gin.
Washed & sorted
Short blitz in a processor
Soaking in Gin
Now I have to wait for a few weeks for the Lilly Pillies to infuse their colour and taste. Which will give me time to research Lilly Pilly cocktails …
Lilly Pillys are probably my favourite australian native tree. Usually fast growing, they are attractive to birds and bees, the flowers are beautiful, and now I’ve discovered that the berries make the most delicious cordial. Not that I actually drink cordial … but I can tell you that on a hot night, a slurp of chilled Lilly Pilly Cordial and a sprig of bruised mint in a glass of dry sparkling wine is a wonderful thing. And I’m sure this still counts as “bush tucker” !!
This batch of cordial was made from Cascade Lilly Pilly berries. The Cascade being a cross between two stars of the lilly pilly world – the Powerderpuff (syzygium willsonii) and the Riberry (syzygium luehmannii). I planted both Cascade and Powderpuffs when I moved in, so the next batch will come from one of the many un-identified and slightly tarter lilly pillys growing at the back of the property.
Lilly Pilly Cordial
Just double or triple the ingredients according to how many berries you have I had only a cupful and this made up approximately 650 mls of cordial
1 cup of lilly pilly fruit – rinsed to remove bugs and twigs
2 cups water
½ teaspoon tartaric acid
1 cup sugar & the juice of 1 lemon
Sterilise an empty clear wine bottle by filling it with boiling water in your sink. Leave it for a few minutes then empty and put in the oven on a low heat to dry. Use mitts of course!!
Meanwhile put all the ingredients into a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. The colour will gradually seep out of the berries and into the liquid turning it a delicate pink.
Remove from the heat and spoon the fruit into a strong sieve over a mixing bowl. Mash the berries gently with a wooden spoon, removing the seeds with a fork as they pop out. Continue mashing until you force all the paste through the sieve. Then pour the hot liquid through the sieve and into the bowl to remove the last of the paste.
Take the bottle from the oven (mitts again) and pour in the hot liquid using a funnel. Seal and turn upside down for a few seconds. Allow to cool. As there are no preservatives (other than sugar) in the cordial, it should be kept in the fridge. You can make a “virgin” cocktail by adding fizzy lemonade instead of champagne.