Forgotten Foods

Putting Australian native flavours back on the plate

Tales from Garden to Table

Austromyrtus dulcis - A tasty bush snack worthy of a place in any garden

Posted on 14 April, 2016 at 1:55 Comments comments (28)

By Claudia Green

Austromyrtus dulcis, commonly known as either Midyim or Midgen Berry, is one of those plants that really deserves a place in any garden and hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of it in the coming years. It is a lovely shrub with a variable growth habit, sometimes growing prostrate as a groundcover, other times as a shrub up to 80cm. In their original environment of coastal NSW southern Queensland, they are known to get up to 2m tall but are unlikely to reach those heights in the cooler southern climates.

The coppery new growth gives it an attractive colour year round and in a good year it may be covered in flowers anywhere from November through to February. Flowering times probably depend somewhat on climate and location – I have seen them flower in spring and fruit in summer in the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens whereas those in our nursery in Kinglake which is cooler and probably slightly wetter, they flowered profusely in February and are now covered in little green fruit which will become white to violet when ripe.

This plant is also proving quite adaptable to different soils and climate conditions meaning it can grow in a wide range of environments. Our plants, both those in pots and in the ground, survive both the cold and frosty winters as well as the hot and windy summers without ever looking the slightest bit sad. In fact, so far the only things to hurt them are the rabbits.

Originally from coastal environments they grow well in sandy soils as long as they have adequate moisture. However, they also adapt quite well to heavier soils provided the drainage is good. In really heavy clay you can try adding gypsum, organic matter or some sandy loam and raising the garden bed slightly.

Midyim Berry fruit are quite small – about 5 to 8mm – so if you want to grow them for fruit you will need quite a few plants for a decent crop. On the upside they can be extremely productive once they get going after the first year or two of growth and are a fun snack for children. Try growing them as a low hedge instead of the old Box – they are both prettier more useful.

The fruit itself has a sweet flavour with a slightly peppery after taste that is quite unique. They are probably best eaten straight off the plant but if you get enough of them try adding them to both sweet and savory salads or as a topping for ice-cream. I think they would pair particularly well with raspberry or coconut ice-creams or just to give the old favourite vanilla a bit of a kick.

If you would like any more information on Midyim Berries or other bushfood plants, produce or recipe ideas you can check out the website or contact Claudia at [email protected]