NATIVE DRINKING: CUCUMBER & LEMON MYRTLE
Lemon myrtle is a native Australian ingredient with a fresh, citrus aroma. It has long been used for medicinal purposes providing nutrients, vitamins and minerals but also for flavouring foods, both sweet and savoury. The native pepperberry originates from Tasmania. It imparts a sweet flavour followed by a fiery kick of pepper so use it with reserve!
50gm caster sugar
14 lemon myrtle leaves
2 large Lebanese cucumbers
500 ml chilled soda water (2 cups)
Dried native pepperberries (see note), coarsely ground, to serve
Heat a charcoal barbecue or gas barbecue to high, or heat a char-grill pan over high heat. Bring sugar and 50ml water to the boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Transfer to a bowl, then crush half the lemon myrtle leaves in your hand to release the fragrance, add to sugar syrup and place in the freezer to chill.
Grill the cucumbers without turning until almost completely black (3-5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and cover to steam for 5 minutes. Slice ¼ of a cucumber and reserve for serving, then juice remaining cucumber in a juicer and refrigerate until required.
Bruise remaining lemon myrtle leaves in the base of a serving jug with a wooden spoon, add cucumber juice and half-fill jug with ice, then add lemon myrtle syrup to taste. Stir well, top up with soda water, pour into glasses, add cucumber slices and top with freshly ground pepperberries.
Lemon myrtle plants are available from native plant nurseries or can be purchases dried. Native pepperberry is available from Herbie's Spices. If it's unavailable substitute with black peppercorns.