Queensland summer is synonymous with fresh, chilled seafood but thanks to new research at the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries it could now be even better. We like to call it our ´fresh approach´ to food. As consumers become more sophisticated, informed and demanding, so too must the food industry. DPI&F scientists are supporting food industry development by researching the natural preservative properties of Australian native products such as lemon myrtle in order to extend the shelf-life of convenient seafood products.
So why use Australian native plants? Most plants have natural properties to protect and defend themselves from microbial attacks and these can be harnessed to provide protection for fresh foods. But most importantly, when the amazing flavours of Queensland seafood are combined with unique flavours from Australian native products it creates a taste sensation that has many and varied applications. For instance, DPI&F food scientists in partnership with the Australian Native Foods Institute Limited are working on minced fish balls with Tasmanian pepper, sea parsley and lemon myrtle with very positive outcomes from initial consumer testings.
The basis for this work is to have a greater understanding of the flavour, health and additional benefits these unique Australian products offer chefs and ultimately consumers. This means that not only will consumers get great products with unique Australian flavours, but they will benefit from the goodness of replacing synthetic preservatives with natural ingredients.
We are also interested in stirring the imagination! And this is where we look to chefs and the seafood industry. Our science focuses on product development and understanding what native ingredients work with what foods, but it is the imagination of these groups that will create the links in the chain that will result in a strong and sustainable future for the industry.
My imagination tells me that the recognition and popularity of Australian native ingredients is set to blossom.