It may come as a surprise to some, but the berries – and flowers – of the humble fuchsia are edible. The budded flowers can be dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried to form a crispy treat, and the berries can be eaten fresh or used in preserves. Horticulturist and keen forager Julia Sich loves to eat the berries.
“They are delicious picked straight off the shrub. If you’re lucky to have enough, they can be made into jam. But I think they’re a nice, fresh, sweet-with-slight-after-taste delicacy.”
While all fuchsias produce berries, not all are deliciously tasty. It’s a matter of trying them to see which ones you like. They differ in size, taste and texture, depending on the species and even the cultivar. Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the taste. But once you find the tasty berries, it’s worth it.
“What you pick is what you get to eat, as there are no big seeds or pips – it’s all for the eating,” says Julia.
The jury is still out among foragers on just what they tastete like though. Some say they tasteste of tamarillos, some say sweet figs or kiwifruit. It seems to dependnd on which fuchsia berry you are eating.ating.
The NZ native tree fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata or kotukutuku, produces delicious berries too, and these were frequently gathered by early Maori. Andrew Crowe writes in his excellent book Native Edible Plants of New Zealand:
“The berries were called ‘konini’ by the Maori and were collected by the men either climbing the trees with baskets or shaking the fruit onto mats spread under the tree; the berries were eaten raw and particularly relished by children.” So, when to pick them? “Fuchsia berries ripen in autumn and should be almost black and soft,” says Julia.
Once you find the ripe berries, you’re in for a treat.
If you love the thrill of the hunt, it’s a great way to seek out more unusual foods. Red clover, chickweed and white horehound all have medicinal value that you can harness, while mushrooms, wild greens and berries have tasty appeal.
Then there’s these four edible delights you might not have come across.