The Flinders Food Co. in Hawker has bottled the distinctive flavour of native peach quandongs hand-picked on Adnyamathanha country to produce a true Australian thirst quencher in partnership with Adelaide beverage maker Mischief Brew.
The first mini cans of Quandong Soda were cracked open in late April for the popular foodie festival Tasting Australia, providing an authentic taste of the Flinders desert lands for diners visiting the bustling café roughly 400km north of Adelaide.
Chef Doogal Hannagan, who co-owns Flinders Food Co. with his fiancé, Louise Lynch, said the soda’s bespoke flavour profile was an instant hit – and unlike anything else on the market.
“Quandongs are quite tart, and we’ve also used strawberry gum eucalyptus and white aspen, which is a type of native apple, to balance the jammy sweetness and tart sourness and give it that mouthfeel,” Hannagan said.
Hannagan and Lynch are born and bred locals who grew up foraging for bush foods, and they’ve incorporated hero flavours like lemon myrtle, wattle seed and bush tomato into their café menu wherever possible.
“Native ingredients are so special,” Hannagan said.
“The flavours are versatile and unique and you can’t mimic them.”
The couple didn’t hesitate to make quandongs the star attraction of their signature drink given the runaway success of their famous house-baked quandong tarts and jam, which seem to be the staple of every traveller heading north.
Mischief Brew’s Scott Giles welcomed the collaboration.
“Our ethos is all about small batch, local and natural, and those guys certainly wanted to get it right just as much as we did,” he said.
“More than anything, it was about producing a beverage that enhances the quandong’s wild flavour in its sweetest and sourest form rather than use a lot of sugars to mask its natural profile.”
The development phase lasted several months, taking into account the seasonality of the scarlet-hued fruits.
“We experimented with a few batches, adjusting the flavours of our fruit tincture until it was spot on and exactly what we wanted,” Hannagan said.
“We’ve been using the soda as a mixer with gin or wild yam vodka, but it’s also really refreshing on its own.”
While Quandong Soda is available in limited quantities at Adelaide’s Squatters Collective cellar door, Flinders Food Co is its true home.
“Ultimately what we wanted to do is allow that product to really shine in the Flinders so that all of the tourists passing through that region can get a beautiful slice of something home-grown,” Giles said.
“At this point, we are really happy to keep it as a super-special seasonal operation; it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than hand-picking from the land and processing it the best way we can.”Jump to next article