Would you like a deliciously crisp, refreshing, and natural drink at your fingertips? Plant a lilly pilly.
Lilly pillies are a popular native plant growing in gardens and used as street plantings across the country, however the tasty small fruits are underutilised, with cordial just one of numerous potential uses.
People often plant lilly pillies as a screening hedge or for their attractive foliage, flowers and fruit and there’s no shortage of varieties to choose from. When I’m looking at lilly pilly varieties, one of the key determining factors is taste. The flavours vary from quite sour to sweet and the two varieties that I tend to use most often, but certainly not limited to, are Syzygium luehmannii and Syzygium austral.
The fruits can be used as creatively in cooking as you’d like adding crunch and depth of flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes. Most commonly the fruits are used to make cordial, jams and jellies, with the cordial recipe below.
2 cups lilly pillies
4 cups water
1 teaspoon tartaric acid
2 cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
Lemon myrtle leaves to taste (the basic recipe doesn’t include lemon myrtle and sometimes I substitute with sage or basil to add another element of flavour)
Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes or until the lilly pillies are starting to soften. Mash the fruit and pour the contents through a strainer, straining out the crushed pulp and seeds. Pour the liquid into sterilised bottles and use diluted with water to taste.
If you are looking for more inspiration to create your very own bush tucker garden, check out Brenden Moore’s guide here or watch the video below. Visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney can also walk the Cadi Jam Ora - First Encounters garden or book an Aboriginal Heritage Tour here to learn about important native plants. Keep an eye out for more helpful stories from the Community Greening team.