On making lilly pilli jam and searching for cabbage tree palms

It is likely, according to Jim, that the alluvial flats of Bundanon and adjoining properties had several Brush cherries Sygyzum penniculata. Now there are only a few very old specimen of it left, as they were cleared out of valuable land. Indigenous population most probably enjoyed the seasonal abundance, surely the early settlers of this valley took advantage, collecting them for jams.

jam

The berry themselves are sharp, but in jams they make a fantastic addition to your diet.
Thankfully the local council thinks well of the plant, utilising it as street feature.
We made a little pot of jam, using a rather simple recipe, quite similar we assume from what would have been done in the early stages of the colony.

Simply you pit the fruits, taking notice of the fact that not all fruits have seeds, wash them, add an equal amount of sugar, water to cover the mixture and a lemon rind for pectnin.

You slowly boil the lot in a saucepan for about 30 mins, making sure it does not stick.
You then rest aside a while and that would be it, Lilly pilli jam.

Happy with our achievement we went then to look for Cabbage tree palms, Livistona australis, another widely used indigenous specie.
The palm itself grows in sheltered areas, sub-tropical rainforest. It was so popular by the late 1800 that it quickly became a cash crop. Still now you can notice homesteads where all trees have been removed to allow for maximum pastures, but the the Cabbage tree palms where left, solitary, testimony of past vegetation.

It is called Cabbage tree because the young palms were harvested and the core cooked and eaten as cabbage.
It was also very important source of fibre, famously the source for the Cabbage tree palm hats, early signifiers of identity pride for the settlers, see this story as example..

hat

We harvested, boiled, dried and plaited the fibre, a short film will come out of that shortly.

About info

Diego Bonetto is a multimedia artist living and practicing in Sydney, Australia, and is a key member of artists' collectives SquatSpace and the BigFAGPress. -The SquatSpace collective has been producing ground-breaking events and projects since 2000. The group has been curated in a number of shows both in Australia and overseas. The current initiatives, the Redfern-Waterloo Tour of beauty (www.squatspace.com/redfern) tackle issues of social representation and the politics of space generated by gentrification. -The BigFagPress (BFP) is a publishing facility housed in Wooloomooloo, Sydney. The BFP is a salvaged 4-tonnes Off-set proof press. The press allows for the creation of countless artworks by keen printmakers and self-started publishers. www.bigfagpress.org Diego has also been working with WeedyConnection, an environmental art campaign. The project involves an online resource (www.weedyconnection.com), short documentary films, cooking shows, blogs, installations, prints, facebook interventions and various site-specific installations in the form of self-guided tours. WeedyConnection tackle the anthropocentric view of what environment should look like. Based on research and data provided by disciplines as far apart as biology, anthropology, paloenthology, social ecology and ethno botany it formulates ethical questions about cultural representation in times of environmental urgency.
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