A - Z of Tasmanian food
Abalone - Tasmania is the world's largest supplier of wild abalone, producing 25 per cent of the total global catch. The abalone industry is big business, where licences cost in excess of $1 million, and the end product fetches premium prices. Harvesting is managed under a quota system. Abalone farming is an emerging sector.
Apples - Over 500 varieties of apples are grown on about a million trees in Tasmania, which was once known as the Apple Isle. Modern growers supply domestic and international markets and have opened a promising niche market for Fuji apples in Japan.
Anchovies - Tasmania markets snap-frozen and marinated anchovies, selling around 60 tonnes a year.
Asparagus - The sandy soils of north-east Tasmania produce the finest quality asparagus, primarily for the restaurant industry.
Beef - Unlike meat from other Australian states, all beef produced for consumption in Tasmania is free from antibiotic and hormone growth promotants. The majority of Tasmania's beef cattle are grass-fed, raised on lush, chemical-free pastures that provide grazing all year round. King Island beef and Flinders Island beef have carved premium market niches, while wagyu cattle are raised in the state’s north-west corner for export to Japan. The industry uses a blue label to identify its beef as being wholly Tasmanian.
Berries - Berry farms are scattered around the state and produce raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries and strawberries. The tazziberry, or Chilean guava, is a new product.
Buckwheat - In April and May each year, buckwheat is harvested in northern Tasmania so that fresh soba noodles can be produced out of season in Japan. Heazlewood Seeds manages production - contracted to 15 Tasmanian producers - and has been the sole Australian buckwheat supplier since 1990. The crop is grown in a chemical-free process and is exported as whole grain to Japan, where Shiratori Flour Mills processes it to supply fresh flour to specialist noodle-makers.
Butter - Tasmania's lush pastures are home for 135,000 dairy cows on 534 farms, producing more than 600 million litres of milk a year. Some of this is converted into butter. Duck River, Ringarooma and Lactos butters are a treat.
Carrots - Around 35,000 tonnes of carrots are harvested each year, generating more than $2 million in export earnings. Relatively slow growth rates in Tasmania's cool climate result in sweet, crisp carrots that transport well. The Japanese variety koyo is grown for export.
Caviar - With sturgeon fished to near extinction in the northern hemisphere, a temporary world-wide ban on the trade in sturgeon caviar has provided a boost to this lucrative by-product of the Tasmanian salmon and ocean trout industries. Salmonid caviar sells at around $65 per kilo wholesale.
Cheese – Tasmania produces more than 100 specialty cheese varieties and dominates the Australian market for European-style soft cheeses. Tasmanian cheese makers regularly win top awards at annual shows interstate and have had several notable successes at dairy shows in the United States. Boutique producers use goat and sheep milk to churn out unusual varieties.
Cherries - The cherry sector has the potential to surpass the value of Tasmania's apple industry this decade. Tasmania's fruit-fly free status has been a major advantage in gaining market entry into Japan for locally grown Japanese varieties.
Chocolate – Cadbury-Schweppes runs tours of Australia’s biggest chocolate plant in Hobart’s suburbs, while boutique producers create exquisite hand-made chocolates using at least 50 per cent cocoa solids with creamy fresh milk from Tasmania's cows.
Crayfish - Southern rock lobster known locally as 'crayfish' is a Tasmanian specialty. Around 1500 tonnes are harvested each year with a $55 million value. The sweet, tasty white flesh of the crayfish is highly regarded by seafood connoisseurs and researchers are working to overcome technical challenges to rock lobster aquaculture.
Dairy products – Tasmania’s relatively abundant water supply gives it a competitive advantage over other Australian regions when it comes to dairy production. The total value of the industry exceeds $400 million and exports of dairy products fetch $100 million a year.
Eels – Short-finned and long-finned eels are found in the state’s inland waterways. The larger long-finned eel can grow to about 20 kg and 1.5 metres in length, and can live for 30 years. About 30 tonnes of fresh and smoked eel is exported each year.
Fennel - French company, Pernod Ricard, is one of the main buyers of Tasmania's fennel oil, used for its famous tipple, Pernod. Around 30 growers harvest around 500 hectares of fennel, but it takes 100kg to produce 1kg of fennel oil, which is distilled locally and shipped for further processing in France.
Fudge - Several confectioners use the state’s abundant milk supply to produce creamy, sweet fudges.
Geese - Flinders Island residents turned a problem into a business, when the numbers of Cape Barren geese climbed to unmanageable proportions. Licences were issued for raising geese and collecting eggs, and now geese farmers are supplying some of Australia's top restaurants with gamey delicacies.
Goats cheese - Thorpe Farm, near Bothwell, produces what many consider the best goat cheese in Australia - Tasmanian Highland Cheese. The product has been warmly praised by celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda.
Honey - One of Tasmania's most distinctive tastes is the musky richness of honey from leatherwood blossoms. Beekeepers carry hives into the rainforests of western Tasmania, where leatherwoods flower in late summer. They return to collect a unique organically certified honey that commands a premium price in overseas markets. Beekeepers also gather honey from forest blue gums, blackberries and clover in farming country. Tasmania's bees produce between 600 and 1200 tonnes of honey a year, depending on seasonal conditions.
Ice – Hobart companyEski Ice packages frozen spring water from the Tasmanian highlands for export and is finding ready markets in many parts of the world where there is diminished faith in the safety of local water.
Jams - Northern hemisphere fruiting plants brought to Tasmania by British settlers flourished beyond expectations, creating a platform for one of the nation’s most famous entrepreneurs, Henry Jones, to launch a jam-making empire. The modern industrial jam pot is stirred by producers of more modest ambition, but their products are alluring. Granny Gibbons Jams at Police Point, near the mouth of the Huon, prides itself in its ability to turn raspberries, apricots, loganberries, plums, quinces and apples into spreads that taste like the hand-made treats you used to buy at country shows.
Kelp - Dried, milled and granulated bull kelp is exported to Scotland and Japan by King Island Kelp Industries. Alginic acid is extracted from the kelp to make alginates, which are used in the manufacture of over 1,000 products. Uses include stabilising icecream and beer foam.
Lollies – Specialist shops inTasmania offer nostalgic arrays of the ‘lollies’ that were the special treats of long-gone childhoods. Humbugs, butterballs, aniseed balls and all-day suckers look – and taste - as if they have emerged from a time machine.
Mushrooms - Over seven tonnes of mushrooms are grown and sold at Huon Valley Mushrooms each week, including Tasmanian white, honey brown, shiitake and oyster mushroom varieties. The company took five years to develop a method of producing shiitake mushroom all year round. A more recent challenge is the production of matsutake mushrooms, the Japanese equivalent of the French truffle, which sell for $1000 per kg on the Japanese market.
Mussels – Australia’s first mussel farm was established in Tasmania nearly 50 years ago and an industry based on indigenous blue mussel cultivation is now increasing in volume as a spin-off from the success of salmon farming. Huge numbers of blue mussel spat are gathered from salmon cages and cultivated on hanging ropes. Hatchery cultivation of juveniles is also increasing. Tasmanian blue mussels have excellent flavour and are free from the grit and other impurities associated with Australia's wild mussel catch. Many chefs prefer them to bigger but less tasty imported products. Tasmanian mussels are sold locally, and in Melbourne and Sydney.
Navy beans – Are among the many crops from all parts of the temperate zone that have been trialled byTasmania’s horticultural scientists.
Olives - Atillio Minnucci, whose family had been making olive oil in Italy for 150 years, imported 200 trees in 1995 to see how they would grow in Tasmania. They flourished and today there are close to 100,000 trees in the state, with more plantings every year. Olive groves are becoming almost as common as vineyards and there are plans for a substantial export olive oil industry serving Asian markets.
Onions - More than $30 million worth of onions are grown each year, mainly in north-west Tasmania. Harvesting is from February to April and Tasmanian onions are considered Australia's best. One manufacturer uses 500 tonnes of onions a year to produce English-style pickled onions.
Organic - Organic farming and production is a growth market for Tasmania, with 110 certified organic producers operating on 5,500 ha of land. Tasmania has the largest acreage under organic farming per head of population in Australia. Herbs, milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream, eggs, wine, beef, lamb, chicken, apples, olives, carrots, potatoes, beans and seeds are among the products.
Oysters - Oysters plucked from Tasmania's crystal clear waters have built a national reputation for taste and texture. Generating an income of more than $20 million, around 3.2 million oysters are cultivated per year and they are exported to various Asian countries and North America, as well as supplying a healthy local market.
Pepperberries - The pepper tree (Lanceolata winteracia) is an indigenous shrub growing to about two metres. Leaves and berries are dried and sold as powder, flakes, whole leaf or berries. Many food producers use this 'bush tucker' to spice up seafood, liqueur, mustard, cheese and icecream.
Quail - A Tasman Peninsula business farms Coturn coturnix japonica quail, a larger bird than its wild cousin, with a dressed weight of 200g. Around 6,000 birds are sold each week and they have become a feature in many Tasmanian restaurants. Fresh and smoked birds and quail eggs are available from good delicatessans.
Rabbit – Tasmania’s early settlers introduced the European rabbitand it has plagued farmers even since. In hard times, ‘underground poultry’ has served as an important source of protein and the game meat remains popular. Recently, fleshy and tender farm-raised rabbits have lifted the humble bunny to gourmet status.
Saffron - Pioneers Nicky and Terry Noonan believe they were the first saffron producers in the southern hemisphere. These days they process the output from a network of growers, as well as their own harvest of crocus stigmas – the raw material for one of the world’s most expensive spices. The Noonan’s operation south of Hobart has had a growth spurt and is turning out about 50,000 retail units (100 milligram each) a year with a retail value exceeding $700,000.
Salmon - The commercial farming of Atlantic salmon began in the mid-80s and will soon exceed the value of all wild fisheries in Tasmania. The industry employs more than 2,000 people and is worth $120 million a year. Few of the world's coastal waters remain pollution free, and this creates Tasmania's competitive edge in aquaculture. Atlantic salmon are raised in inland hatcheries before being transferred to large floating cages around the coast to grow to market size.
Scallops - Fresh cultivated scallops are available all year round, with the peak season in May - November. Tasmanian scallops are high-yielding, producing between 60 and 80 kg of meat from every 100kg of shell. In 1998 the Tasmanian Government introduced compulsory tracking systems for all vessels in Tasmanian waters, to protect the wild scallop industry from illegal fishing. About 560 tonnes of scallops are harvested each year with a beach value of more than $7.3 million.
Sea urchins - Spiky sea urchins are gathered from the seafloor and de-shelled (there are five urchins to every shell) for export. Sea urchin roe is a delicacy in many Asian and some European countries. At present, most roe is exported fresh and chilled to Japan. There is also a small domestic market for sales to Japanese restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Squid - Previously a by-catch of other fisheries, southern calamari are becoming an important industry in their own right. Around 113 tonnes are caught each year using powerful lights above decks to attract the quarry, before they are hooked with the aid of coloured lures.
Tazziberry - A small bright red fruit that grows wild in Chile, the tazziberry is the size of a blueberry and has a taste described as a mix of pineapple, strawberry and apple. The berries are used for cooking, liqueur making and in smoked sausages. They are being tested for use in cheeses and icecream.
Tomatoes - Tasmania is at the leading edge of greenhouse tomato technology, with a dozen growers producing more than 1,000 tonnes a year in 10 hectares of greenhouses throughout the state.
Trout -The first trout ova from Britain were delivered to the Salmon Ponds hatchery in Plenty in 1864. They were carefully transferred overland to prepared ponds. Both rainbow and brown trout thrived. The wild trout fishery today brings tourism worth $30 million to the state every year. Sea-run trout are raised in Macquarie Harbour and supplied year-round to the restaurant trade.
Truffles - Tasmania's truffle enterprises attracted international headlines when a French restaurant was able to serve out-of-season fresh truffles on Bastille Day for the first time in history. Now more than 60 hectares of hazelnut and oak trees have been inoculated with black truffle spore at 26 locations. Truffles are harvested in the winter months.
Tuna - Catching a bluefin or yellowfin tuna in Tasmania's scenic waters is a must for game fishers from around the world. Tasmania's tuna are harvested commercially and are in strong demand in Japan.
Ugari – An Aboriginal word forthe small clamsfound on beaches all around the Australian coast. Clams similar to the Italian vongole are cultivated in north-east Tasmania for the Australian restaurant industry.
Vegetables - Tasmania is Australia's biggest producer of potatoes, with a harvest of more than 420,000 tonnes a year and an industry value of $193 million. Tasmania also provides a third of the national onion crop and is responsible for 80 per cent of Australia's overseas onion exports. The bulk of the vegetable industry is in the north-west where peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, sweetcorn, cauliflower, celery, pumpkin, swedes and cabbage are processed. Not surprisingly, Tasmanians are Australia's biggest vegetable eaters.
Wakame – A variety of seaweed, wakame is popular in sauces, mayonnaise, broths, miso soups, noodles and for nori rolls. Accidentally introduced to Tasmanian water in ballast discharges from Japanese ships, wakame is now harvested commercially and exported back to its country of origin.
Walnuts - Webster Ltd harvested 20 tonnes of walnuts in 2002 and expects to build this to 18,000 tonnes before the end of this decade. The company has planted 300,000 trees over 650 ha in Tasmania, mostly on the East Coast, and 250 ha in Victoria. The aim is to produce a premium product that can replace Australia’s walnut imports and service a huge potential off-season market in Europe.
Wasabi - A popular Japanese condiment, wasabi is grown in north-east Tasmania and used to flavour cheese exported to Japan. Traditionally, wasabi stems have been used to prepare a pungent condiment served with sushi, sashimi and soba noodles.
Yolla - The short-tailed shearwater, mutton bird or moonbird, was known as yolla to Tasmania's Aborigines and was one of their most important seasonal foods. Yolla is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has high levels of calcium, vitamin A, iron and zinc. Yolla can be purchased in Tasmania and are sometimes featured on restaurant menus.
Zucchinis – Are on a long list of crops trialled by the Department of Primary Industry and Water, that also includes adzuki beans, amaranthus, globe artichokes, asparagus, temperate climate bamboo, burdock, coloured capsicums, chick peas, chicory, cucumbers, daikon, endives, edible ferns, garlic, ginsing, green tea, Kentucky blue beans, exotic mushrooms, musk melons, navy beans, okra, parsnips, green soya beans, sweet corn and taro.