Culinary innovation with Lemon Myrtle - an exclusive interview with Newly Weds Foods
In the dynamic world of culinary innovation, few ingredients capture the imagination like Lemon Myrtle. Its distinct lemony flavor and aroma make it an ideal addition to dishes ranging from seafood to desserts. But what exactly is it that makes Lemon Myrtle a standout product to use in the food industry? In this post, we discuss with Newly Weds Foods (NWF) flavour creators and food technology experts, Thidiwan Sa-uran (Thidi) and Silvia Li, as we delve into their expertise, exploring Lemon Myrtle's journey from a native botanical to a global culinary sensation.
Working within the NWF group, Thidi and Silvia were able to provide us with valuable insights into the versatility and potential uses of Lemon Myrtle in various culinary applications.
Newly Weds Foods
Newly Weds Foods started in Chicago, celebrating its 90th birthday last year in the US and it's 40th birthday this year in Australia. Working with customers across six continents, NWF has a deep understanding of consumer tastes and preferences. Today it stands as a global leader in food ingredient technology and the creation of flavours, seasonings and innovative food solutions. As an extra extension to their business, they also have bought many other businesses over the years, including their own retail brand, “Global Cuisine,” to expand further into the world of sauces and flavour.
The Journey Begins
Thidi: "My journey in food science has spanned over two decades, from my initial years at Flavourhouse to my current role at NWF. Every step has deepened my appreciation for flavor development," shares Thidi, whose expertise in food technology is foundational to her work.
Silvia's transition: For Silvia, the switch from Biotechnology to Food Science was fueled by her passion for cooking. "The creative possibilities in product development are endless, and it's been a thrilling decade of innovation at NWF" she reflects.
A Day in the Life of a Food Technologist
A typical day for Thidi and Silvia is a blend of science and art – understanding customer briefs, developing formulations, and the crucial phase of tasting. "Our work is a collaborative symphony, bringing together sales, technologists, and flavors to create something extraordinary," they explain.
They find Lemon Myrtle particularly effective in curries, replacing traditional ingredients like kaffir lime and lemongrass, enhancing flavors while also being cost-effective.
Exciting Projects and Trends
Thidi and Silvia have many examples of projects that demonstrate Lemon Myrtle's versatility.
Silvia recalls "Working on sauce projects with the US team was a highlight, offering a cross-cultural perspective on flavor." For Thidi, the challenge of matching market-recognized flavors is exhilarating. "It's about striking the perfect balance between innovation and familiarity," she says.
From a stint in the US working on sauce projects, including a BBQ sauce enhanced by Lemon Myrtle, to currently developing a new product with a major supermarket chain, their work illustrates its broad appeal.
The Art of Flavour Pairing
Dive into our enlightening interview with Newly Weds Food, exploring the fusion of traditional and modern culinary techniques with the versatile and emerging fine food, Lemon Myrtle. Discover how this unique botanical is transforming the food industry.
When it comes to pairing flavors, especially with unique ingredients like Lemon Myrtle, the process is meticulous. "We base our pairings on customer requests but also experiment with combinations that we believe could be successful" .
One remarkable pairing was Lemon Myrtle with Tasmanian Pepperberry, an innovative blend that showcases the versatility of native ingredients.
Pairing Lemon Myrtle with Tasmanian Pepperberry is just one example of their innovative approach. Thidi emphasizes the importance of dimension and complexity in dishes, praising Lemon Myrtle for adding these qualities without the adverse effects of acidity.
When asked about using Lemon Myrtle as an ingredient, they said there is the same use potential as with sour acid, without it making food more acidic. There is aroma without the acidity. The issue with acidity is that it can cook food and Lemon Myrtle does not do this. Acidity will also affect the binding which can be problematic as it can damage the complex balance. Silvia sums it up by saying “Lemon Myrtle enhances the lemon profile without the sour taste”.
Complexity of flavours
Thidi spoke about the importance of dimension and complexity when creating dishes. "The great thing about Lemon Myrtle is that it adds the same effects that acid does to food, being a natural flavour enhancer, but without the detrimental effects of acid. Citral gives this perception of the taste being enhanced. Lemon Myrtle also adds another level of depth and dimension to the flavour profile. It's not just about the taste, but also the aroma and texture that make it a versatile ingredient."
Optimal Use of Lemon Myrtle
Thidi said “Lemon Myrtle adds dimension, complexity and wow factor” In dishes like lemon myrtle and native lime sorbet, or coated products (including chicken popcorn, crunch wings, tender chippy's, salmon bites to name a few), where the marinade captures its essence, Lemon Myrtle shines. Its ability to enhance both savory and sweet applications is unmatched, from curries to chocolate such as that made by Zokoko.
Silvia believes in simplicity: "A dish like lemon myrtle and native lime sorbet lets the native herbs shine without competing flavors." Thidi sees potential in both savory and sweet applications. "Lemon Myrtle is incredibly versatile – it enhances everything from curries to desserts," she adds.
They discussed the beauty of the coated products, is how they can capture Lemon Myrtle in different layers, from the marinade, to the outside crumbs where leaf can be used for extra visual effect creating both taste and visual impact.
Likewise, it works well in chilli lamb meals and can be swapped out when Kaffir Lime and lemongrass are traditionally used.
Another bonus they mentioned was how Lemon Myrtle can be used as an ingredient in traditional curries such as Thai and Malaysian, replacing many different ingredients like kaffir lime and lemongrass. "We can replace a good portion of these with Lemon Myrtle, and it’s way more cost-effective and still satisfies the food pyramid," says Thidi.
Thidi said “you can make everything tasty with different ingredients but my customers will still ask me - what about the price?” Thidi and Silvia believe Lemon Myrtle can be a great solution for this.
Thidi is a big advocate of Food Pyramids. Food or sometimes called Flavour Pyramids are used to identify the different layers and components of a flavour. This enables food technologists to explore new avenues for taste modification, and work toward satisfying sophisticated palates.
Lemon Myrtle is unique in that it has an aroma profile similar to lemon, but with added complexity due to other flavors such as eucalyptus and menthol. "These added dimensions make Lemon Myrtle a versatile ingredient, perfect for enhancing and balancing flavors in various food applications," says Thidi.
The Flavour Pyramid concept has been instrumental in showcasing the complexity of Lemon Myrtle's flavor profile. With each layer, there is a new dimension that adds to the overall taste experience. This is especially valuable when creating dishes with multiple ingredients, as it allows for a well-rounded and balanced flavor profile.
When creating a flavour pyramid, the top note can be Lemon Myrtle oil, Lemon Myrtle powder to add body and taste impact and then using leaves to add visual. You really need a good structure, and need to know where everything fits into the flavour pyramid.
Versatility in Forms
Different forms of Lemon Myrtle – oil, powder, dried leaf – cater to diverse culinary needs. For coatings, seasonings, or visual appeal, each form has its specific application, seamlessly fitting into any flavor pyramid.
Choosing between oil, powder, or dried leaf depends on the desired outcome in a dish, whether it's clarity, visual appeal, or flavor.
Essential oil would be best utilised when injecting a clear liquid into a meat as opposed to using brine, on the other hand, powder and dried leaf are great for adding punchy flavor and visual appeal in rubs or coatings.
Reflections on Past Success and Forging Future Paths
Their past successes, such as their marinated pork rub using Australian native ingredients and other creations such as infusing sausage with Lemon Myrtle, have been learning experiences and a great way to play around with what you can really do with such a versatile ingredient.
Looking forward, Thidi and Silvia are creating a showcase based on their experience at our 25th-anniversary lunch, aimed at demonstrating Lemon Myrtle's "wow factor" to their sales team. One dish they are hoping to collaborate with Chef Jordan from Crystalbrook where the event was hosted is the Lemon Myrtle infused sausage which really wowed their senses and made this a stand out dish.
The collaboration between Australian Native Products and NWF opens up new avenues. "We aim to explore various applications of Lemon Myrtle, enhancing its presence in global cuisine," they envision.
One challenge with unfamiliar ingredients like Lemon Myrtle is supply chain issues. However, after visiting our farms, Thidi and Silvia are confident in the stability of our supply, no matter the order size.
Personal Touches and Advice
They advise newcomers to the culinary field to embrace passion and creativity. Their experiments often lead to better versions of clients' initial ideas, showcasing their commitment to innovation.
Thidi and Silvia, the food experts at Newly Weds Foods appreciate Lemon Myrtle not just for its flavor but also as a natural preservative. They acknowledge that it has been around for years and are excited to continue discovering new ways to use this versatile ingredient. They also believe in giving back and sharing knowledge, which is why they are keen on collaborating with chefs to create a showcase that will inspire others to experiment with Lemon Myrtle.
They both agree that the more you get out there, the better understanding you have of the ingredients and its potential. They believe in constantly pushing boundaries, experimenting with different ingredients, and staying up-to-date with global trends to bring out the best in their dishes.
As Thidi says, "It's all about good food, good flavors, and creating memorable experiences for your customers." And Lemon Myrtle is a valuable addition to any chef's pantry to achieve just that. So go ahead and explore the world of Lemon Myrtle, who knows what amazing dishes you will come up with! Remember, the possibilities are endless. Keep experimenting and creating delicious masterpieces with this versatile ingredient.
Predicting the Future
With an increasing demand in savory food categories, Thidi and Silvia see Lemon Myrtle as a global ingredient, transcending traditional boundaries like Lemongrass in Thai cuisine. Its potential in all cuisines highlights its universal appeal.
Both Silvia and Thidi agreed that Lemon Myrtle unlike other ingredients can be used in all cuisines. Unlike Lemongrass that is traditionally Thai for instance Lemon Myrtle can be seen as a global ingredient and even used as a substitute for the staple mixed herbs. It's not just about it being an Australian ingredient, useful in cheesecakes and shortbreads, it's about being used wherever flavour needs to be enhanced or as a different and more affordable way to replace citrus and other flavours derived from citral content.
Thidi is excited to announce to us that one of her creations has been chosen by a major supermarket chain featuring our very own Lemon Myrtle, being released and is becoming close to be released as LTO. So watch this space and we'll be sure to let you know the release date and where you can purchase it.
Deep Dive into Applications
Whether in chilli lamb meals, sauces, or desserts, Lemon Myrtle adapts to various culinary needs. Its reasonable price, comparable to ingredients like dill and kaffir lime leaves, adds to its attractiveness.
Another concept they discussed was using just the right amount to make the dish unique by minimal usage.
Choosing Lemon Myrtle
Driven by customer demand, Thidi and Silvia plan to showcase its versatility and encourage its use in diverse applications, highlighting its flavor enhancement without added acidity.
In regards to price, they said that Lemon Myrtle is actually very reasonable, not just because a little goes a long way, but because it’s actually comparable in price to mainstay ingredients such as dill and kaffir lime leaves.
Lemon Myrtle Showcase
Thidi and Silvia are in the process of creating a showcase to highlight the wow factor based on their experience at our 25th anniversary lunch. They are doing this to show their sales team so that when their customers are looking for some wow factor they will have experienced this to be confident enough to sell this concept to them.
Advice for those wanting a career in the industry
Thidi and Silvia say that to do their job you need passion to do it and of course you need to love to cook. It's a fast-paced industry where you need to keep up with trends and always be willing to try new things. They advise those looking for a career in the food industry to attend events, food expos, and workshops to stay updated on the latest techniques and ingredients. They also recommend building strong relationships with suppliers like Australian Native Products who can provide unique and high-quality ingredients, setting you apart from other chefs. Most importantly, they emphasize the importance of never losing sight of your creativity and passion for food.
Thidi and Silvia have shown us even further how Lemon Myrtle is a versatile ingredient that can add dimension, complexity, and wow factor to any dish. Its unique flavor profile makes it an ideal addition to both savory and sweet applications, and its various forms – oil, powder, and dried leaf – cater to diverse culinary needs.
Lemon Myrtle truly shines when used as a top note in a dish's flavor pyramid, adding layers of taste and aroma to create a well-rounded and balanced flavor experience. With its endless potential for creativity and innovation, it's no wonder that Lemon Myrtle is becoming a highly sought-after ingredient in the global culinary world. So whether it's enhancing traditional dishes or creating new and exciting flavor combinations, Lemon Myrtle is truly a game-changer in the world of food. So don't be afraid to experiment and add some Lemon Myrtle into your next dish – you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results!
Through Thidi and Silvia's insights, the journey of Lemon Myrtle in the culinary world is a narrative of innovation, collaboration, and passion. As it continues to make its mark globally, Lemon Myrtle stands as a testament to the endless possibilities in the world of food technology.
We invite you to embrace the versatility of Lemon Myrtle in your culinary adventures and join us in this flavorful journey to discover new ways to use Lemon Myrtle in global cuisine and be a part of this exciting food revolution.
Contact us to see how we could help infuse Lemon Myrtle into your creations.