Friday, June 10, 2011

Fuschias


Earlier this year, writer Sharon Astyk blogged about 'edible landscaping' - or 'stealth gardening' - planting ornamentals that secretly (or not so secretly) double as food plants. Fuchsias could fit into such a garden nicely, with their surprisingly edible berries and flowers.

Fuchsia is a genus of plants and within it are many species and varieties. The NZ Fuchsia Society website has three photo galleries which are good for identifying the different species and varieties of Fuchsia grown in NZ. (Scroll down and look on the left hand column of the front page.)

This is useful because, while all Fuchsia berries and flowers may be edible, there is a wide range of sizes, flavours, and textures. Some are definitely more appetising than others, and it's good to keep a personal track of which are which. (Maybe someone should start an online list.)

The berries
Ripe, squishy Fuchsia berries are made into jams, jellies, pies, and wine. A number of recipes suggest mixing the berries into apple pies. Try the basic Fuchsia jelly recipe here  or the jam and jelly recipes here, or just google it.

In parts of South America Fuchsia berries are cultivated and sold.

The flowers
When eating the flower - generally the sepals are fleshier and milder. The petals and rest of the flower inside are more bitter.

The colours they can add to a salad or as a garnish are dazzling. And of course the smaller ones (or unpopped buds) casn be dipped in batter and made into that ubiquitous foragers' treat - flower fritters.

Small flowers can be crystallised (coated in eggwhite and then sugar and left to dry) - as a decoration for cakes and other desserts.

Native fuchsias
New Zealand has native Fuchsia including Kotukutuku, the only tree Fuchsia in the world, with berries that are especially nice.

Apparently NZ has another unusual Fuchsia too. Wellington botanist Phil Garnock-Jones explains on his blog!

Above photo of Fuchsia Magellanica courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you want to exclude Fuschia Dunlop from your Google search for recipes try using the terms "fuschia recipes -dunlop".

The hyphen tells Google to exclude that word. Good luck!

Johanna said...

Hi anonymous! :) Thanks for that - very useful info!

Isa Ritchie said...

Wow, eating fuschias - how exciting! Can you describe how the berries taste, Johanna?

Johanna said...

HI Isa - there's so much variation. I've only tried about 5 different ones, but they ranged through sweet and interestingly spicy, to slightly sweet and bland, to slightly sweet at first with a strong and unpleasant bitter aftertaste. The pulp of all of them was very soft.

I guess the thing to do is just try as many possible!

Anonymous said...

just a note- in some parts of the country- probably more the wetter west and south coasts of both islands, and Stewart Island,some fuchsia species may escape into the bush. Birds very much like the fruit, and will spread them readily- another good reason to get in there first and eat them yourself :)

Johanna said...

Aha, interesting - thank you for that info, Anonymous! :)

pruefreefood said...

Wow I didn't know Fushias were edible thanks for the low down. :)

pruefreefood said...

Wow didn't know fushias were edible thanks for the low down :)