Carissa berries are commonly known as ‘Num-num’s’. The humble Num-num bush has glossy dark green leaves and big spiky thorns, protecting its delicate jasmine-like flowers and plump, juicy red berries.
When you pick a Carissa berry, you will find a milky latex at the base of the berry– this milky latex is usually a warning sign in most plants – but in the Carissa berry, it is non-toxic.
The berries are rich in pectin, which makes them great to add to jams, preserves and relishes, binding everything beautifully and glossing it with a ruby-red hue. It is also very high in vitamin C making it a nutritious snack eaten raw. The taste of the berries are tart, sweet, with a cranberry like flavour.
Carissa berry, beetroot and apple relish
¼ cup of Carissa berries, sliced
2 apples cored, peeled and diced
4 small beetroots, peeled and diced
¼ cup of sugar
2 tbs honey
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and pepper
Place all the ingredients in a small pot, except for the honey. Simmer over a low heat until most of the liquid has reduced, for approximately 40 minutes. When it starts to look bubbly and sticky, add the honey and simmer at a low heat for another 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool down. Pour it over a soft, room-temperature cheese such as Camembert or Brie cheese. Try to share it with your friends – that’s if it even makes it out of your kitchen!
How to grow Carissa
Carissa macrocarpa, or ‘Num-num’, is a handsome evergreen shrub with fairly large shiny leaves, and grows to about 2 meters in height. It has thick sharp thorns and can be used to create an effective, impenetrable hedge. Carissa is found naturally in coastal areas from Humansdorp, all the way up to Mozambique. Although able to survive drought and poor soil very well, it grows faster in good soil with some watering. Carissa berry produces beautifully-scented white flowers from spring to mid-summer, and is followed by large red fruits rich in Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Carissa can be grown easily from seed sown in the spring, but it can also be grown
from semi-hardwood cuttings in spring.
Did you know…our recipe book is in the making! Take a sneak peak on the Veld and Sea website HERE
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go on a guided Indigenous edibles walk entitled “Fynbos flavours – a culinary adventure”at Kirstenbosch led by Di Thomson. You can find more of their exciting events here.
Kirstenbosch was really showing off that day, everything was crystal clear on the first warm sunny day in Spring
Thank you Di for your lovely talk and the best shortcake ever ❤
This post is dedicated to Tai, Thandi, Jack and Rubi
School holidays are viewed with mixed joy and dread. There is the joy of no dark, cold, early morning lunchbox hunts and school runs but with it brings the dread of how to keep such keen little minds entertained the whole day! We kicked off our holiday with a Fynbos Flavour walk and garden tour at the nursery, picking and discovering new smells and tastes and textures. And, of course – getting dirty and eating lots of delicious food. The kids loved every second!
The Fynbos and veg forage and harvest begins….
Looking for ripe Num Num or Carissa berries. The white milk that you see when you pick these berries are non toxic. The fruit is delicious and attracts birds and butterflies but this clever bush protects its berries with big spiky thorns.
Searching for some ripe Tick Berries. The Crysanthemoides monilifera is much loved by the birds and they have usually eaten all the ripe berries before we can find any! “monilifera” means “bearing a necklace” in Latin, referring to its cluster of berries. The berries are green until they ripen, turning into plump juicy black berries that look just like fat ticks.
Tasting some spekboom leaves. The Portulacaria afra is a fascinating plant. The sharp tart flavoured leaves are edible and are a great addition added raw to salads or fried with a bit of butter and seasoning. It has many medicinal properties including the traditional use of increasing milk production in breastfeeding moms. Elephants love this juicy plant and its a great carbon absorber. It also soaks up the suns harmful rays, creating a happy healthy enviroment for animals and insects to live under.
Lucky us – there was a Dovyalis caffra with an abundance of its tasty fruit spilling over just waiting to be foraged. Dovyalis means Spear in Greek, and there are long sharp thorns protecting the fruit in these trees. Six nimble fingered hands soon got the hang of extracting the fruit though!
We dug for some wild garlic roots. This was quite an established patch, so we had to dig hard and carefully separate some of these roots to be scrubbed well and baked in the oven. As soon as the long leaves are bruised it gives of a strong garlic aroma. Throughout summer, these plants have beautiful violet flowers that can be added to salads and especially delicious in potato salad.
We found some crazy purple carrots! These have an amazing nutty taste, nothing like the tasteless orange carrots you find in the supermarkets. Best eaten raw, seconds after picking them and washing them off.
Who knows what next seasons menu will bring…
Hope you will be at the table!