Fruit rich in antioxidants

From the National Indigenous Times:
Issue 61 - 04 Aug 2004

Eleagnus triflora var. triflore. Family Elaeagnaceae. See botanical notes below.

The term 'antioxidant' appears frequently in media coverage of health and nutrition. Antioxidants refers to several groups of naturally occurring food components which protect the body by neutralising so-called ‘free radicals’ which damage certain cells and the immune system.

It so happens that many of the bushfoods traditionally used by Indigenous Australians are rich in antioxidants, especially the fruits.

One such fruit, Eleagnus riflora, unofficially called Millaa-millaa, contains four times as much lyeopene as any other plant in the world.

Lyeopene is the antioxidant which gives the reddish colour to tomatoes and capsicums, and by coincidence the Elaeagnus fruit has a taste of tomato that is quite sweet.

Millaa-millaa can be grown in a home garden in semi-shade, with mulch and reasonable moisture. It sprawls, arches and climbs, ascending to the canopy in rainforest.

Although the vernacular name is taken from the Aboriginal language of the Atherton Tablelands, the plant is not restricted to that area, occurring in various types of rainforest from North Queensland to the Mary Valley in South Queensland, as an under story spread.

Eleagnus may flower several times a year but usually does so between July and December, with fruits ripe from October to January.

Simply eat the fruits fresh, saving the large hard seeds for planting. Germination takes 6-10 weeks.

For a recipe, try this simple sauce:

Millaa-millaa sauce

Place 30g fruit in a saucepan with a little water. Add 150g sugar, bring to the boil and simmer while stirring for five minutes or until tender. Transfer to a colander over a bowl, force the flesh through, rinse with a little water, mix the collected pulp and store in a jar in the refrigerator. Use for dressing any dessert, garnishing with a few whole fruit.

BOTANICAL NOTES: Eleagnus triflora var. triflore / Family Elaeagnaceae. A sprawling, climbing woody shrub with distinctive alternate ovate leaves showing a silvery under surface. Numerous cymes of three flower (triflora) are borne in the leaf axils along the stems. The fruits are ellipsoid red drupes (10-17 long mm), with surface dots, sweet succulent red flesh and a large, grooved seed. The variety brevi limbata occurs in the Atherton Tableland area above about 600 metres in elevation. This group of plants occurs also in New Guinea, S.E. Asia and elsewhere.


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