www.foodtechnology.co.nz 43 Two Adelaide Hills distilleries have recently released gins made with green ants, traditionally eaten for thousands of years by Aborigines for their high protein and medicinal benefits. Adelaide Hills Distillery founder and head distiller of Australian Green Ant Gin Sacha La Forgia says it took him several months to be persuaded to eat green ants and allow them to be put in his still. “Once I did, it was like an incredible flavour explosion in my mouth of lime and coriander flavours as well as a fresh acidic zing,” he says. “It was just beautiful and I thought straight away ‘wow, they exist to be in gin’.” The distillery owners – Something Wild Beverages – specialises in sustainably-sourced indigenous foods such as kangaroo, wallaby, magpie goose, native herbs and fruits, and sources the green ants under permit from the Northern Territory. La Forgia says a “pinch” of green ants are put into bottles in the same way as worms are used in tequila to provide the finishing touch. “The acidic zing doesn’t carry over in the still, so ants are included in every bottle. It just lifts the palate a bit. By putting them in the bottle, I’m hoping to encourage people to eat one and taste it. When people try one, their eyes light up and they get a big smile on their face.” Other Australian native foods used in botanicals in the gin include finger lime, pepper berry, the native juniper boobialla and leaves from strawberry gum and lemon myrtle trees. The company aims to have national and international distribution for the product, which streams profits from the botanicals used back to outback communities. “I think now is quite an important time, because we are seeing the popularity of native foods increasing very quickly,” La Forgia says. “It’s a feel-good thing, but it’s also very necessary to make sure that these ingredients are sustainable and that they are still there in the future.” The second distillery using green ants is Applewood Distillery, which has sold out of its limited edition green ant gin. Head distiller Brendan Carter says response to the gin has been “insane,” with the ants giving a distinctive sharp, citrus flavour from formic acid. “In this particular one, we also wanted to emphasise the native citruses, which I think a lot of people are getting their heads around at the moment, so there’s finger limes and a little bit of strawberry gum leaf in there too,” Carter says. “Our limited editions are a complete once-off, so we’ll do that and move on to something else challenging and uber creative.” ANTS IN YOUR DRINKS tion. “Ideas are judged based on innovation and the benefits to business,” Materman says. “Some of these ideas are really simple, like including icons on hard hats that show what critical skills the wearer has, making it easy to identify someone who is qualified to work at heights or drive a forklift.” Innovation is also central to Pernod Ricard’s dedication to reducing its environmental footprint. “In many cases, environmentally friendly solutions can be more cost-effective in the long-term,” Materman says. “For example, reducing packaging and water consumption offers cost savings, as well as benefiting the environment. In the past five years, we’ve reduced our packaging by more than 13,500 tonnes, as well as decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% per bottle over the same period. Over the past nine years, we’ve implemented more than 300 measures to improve sustainability.” Some of these are significant equipment and system upgrades, while others are smaller-scale. “For example, some of the vineyard workers realised that planting wild flowers in the vineyard reduced mowing fuel costs and supported the vineyard ecosystem by attracting bees and other insects,” Materman says. “When you add up 300 ideas like that, then the impact becomes significant.” Brancott Estate recently teamed with start-up specialist BlueChilli to create the AUD$35,000 cash prize Winexplorer innovation challenge, inviting ideas to revolutionise how people enjoy wine. “We are keen to strengthen the link between innovation and wine because it’s an industry that is often perceived as being traditional,” Materman says, “but the wine industry in New Zealand is extremely resourceful and innovative and there is a lot of work being done, particularly around sustainability.” Green ants and other ancient foods from one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures are being used as botanicals in Australian craft gins.
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