Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is using locally grown lemon myrtle from Fiona Walker's Flavours of Bundaberg in its latest release, the Ginger Beer and Lemon Myrtle brew.
Lemon myrtle leaves are generally dried and milled to be used as tea or a flavour ingredient. Essential oil is also extracted from the leaf through steam distilling.
“I started to grow foliage for the florist and then realised the lemon myrtle was a little special and we could smell it and thought this is so beautiful,” Fiona said.
“It’s an amazing smell and it just runs through your body – I really love it.”
Fiona said lemon myrtle had a lot of diversity and could be used in a range of recipes from scones and biscuits to beverages including a new local cocktail, the Cliff Hanger.
Only grower in the Bundaberg Region
There are 300 mature lemon myrtle trees on Fiona’s Gooburrum property and she said she could be the only grower in the Bundaberg Region.
“There are not many lemon myrtle growers around, I know down at Byron Bay there are some, and up at the Whitsundays, but I’m not aware of any here,” Fiona said.
She said it took a couple of years for each plant to become mature enough to use and there was unique regime to making sure the full flavour was captured.
Fiona harvests the lemon myrtle with her daughter, April Logan, just before the full moon and at first light of a morning; she said this helped draw the sap and citral out of the Australian native.
Then the leaves were placed on the flat-drying trays and are dried for about five weeks in Fiona's drying house, which enhances the flavour.
Citral is the chemical component that gives all lemons, lemongrass and lemon myrtle their scent.
Fiona said there was more citrus in lemon myrtle than there was in lemons or lemongrass, and the flavour was often described as more lemon than lemon, but it added a subtle taste rather than overpowering tang.
Locally, Fiona’s lemon myrtle has also been added to a variety of local recipes including the Sombrero Cerveza beer at the The Brewhouse, beverages at Kalki Moon and recipes at local cafes including Alowishus Delicious and Nourish to name a few.
“It’s great that local businesses are working together to create new products that have never been around before and all stem from the region,” she said.
Fiona said the feedback she’d received from the community about the flavour of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks newest addition has been comforting to say the least.
Lemon myrtle has many uses
You can hear the passion in Fiona’s voice as she shares information about lemon myrtle, whether it’s in about the harvesting process or how she created a cream made from lemon myrtle to help people’s pets with skin conditions.
“Lemon myrtle has antibacterial and antifungal properties in it to help soothe and heal hotspots and Queensland itch on dogs,” she said.
Indigenous Australians have long used lemon myrtle as a healing plant and in cuisine.
Fiona said there are numerous recipes available to use her lemon myrtle products in, including lemon myrtle and macadamia biscuits, which are easy to make and people love.
Lemon myrtle and macadamia biscuits recipe
- 200g butter
- 100g sugar
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp lemon myrtle
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
- Cream butter and sugar, then add nuts
- Add lemon myrtle and mix
- Add flour, mix should look crumbly, sticky and easy to mould
- Roll into balls, place on greased tray, press down with fork until a little flat
- Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden
- Cool and store in airtight container
- Bundaberg Brewed Drinks announced their new flavour, Ginger Beer and Lemon Myrtle, at Parliament