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Botanical Profile: Karkalla

Posted by Noah Ward on

While we are no strangers to using native succulents, we haven't dipped our toes in to the realms of Karkalla over the years. We've been aware of it though, and been particularly fond of it. Much like Samphire that we've worked with in previous distillations, this is a unique coastal succulent - colloquially known as Pig's Face, Sea Figs or Beach Bananas, which has been eaten by young, beach going Australians for generations. While similar in its salinity to Samphire, Karkalla is fleshier and notably larger.  


Indigenous Australians oft ate the leaves fresh or dried, and even used their dry, salty leaves to grill with meat - ideally fish. As we are continually finding in native ingredients, there are medicinal benefits, with Karkalla known to be an anti-inflammatory and loaded with antioxidants.

One of the great joys of Karkalla is that pretty much all of the plant is edible. The fleshy, salty leaves - the part we use for distillation - is a crunchy and refreshing delight, but their fruit is its most coveted aspect, a sweet almost strawberry, kiwi like flavour - albeit much saltier - noted by their pinkish hue. While difficult to source as they are not often harvested, they are the avid foragers delight, fruiting in the summer to autumn months. 
 
Their place in modern Australian Cuisine is becoming more and more established. Iconic Sydney chef Kylie Kwong has created stir-fry dish of
Australian Native Greens, utilising Karkalla along side other great natives like Saltbush, Warrigal Greens and Bower Spinach of which she has called her favourite dish she has created. Our great friend Shannon Fleming (Orana, Lot 100, Forgotten Seasons) makes one of our favourite things to eat on the planet - Karkalla Kimchi. Its versatility in salads and its ability to pair with protein has made it one of Australia's more notable native botanicals - a phenomenal addition to our Seaside Gin we crafted in collaboration with Byrdi. 

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