Friday, January 9, 2009

New foraging finds 2: fresh flax seeds

Jane, a friend we stayed with in Feilding, introduced me to flax seeds fresh from the pod.

Pick a flax pod, break it open, and take out the little flat seeds carefully. It's fascinating the way each seed tastes different - some very sweet, others more bitter. It partly depends on the ripeness of the pod and the variety of flax, but even within each pod there is some variety.

Since coming back from our short holiday I have been sampling flax seeds from plants (with pods in varying stages of ripeness) all round Newtown and Berhampore.

I'd like to collect enough to sprinkle on a green salad.

Apparently people have also roasted them to make a coffee substitute.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New foraging finds 1: Beach spinach berries

We went away for the weekend to stay with two different families - each of whom introduced me to a new foraged food.

First, at Tangimoana, Lynda and her lovely daughter took me to their favourite beach spinach spot - where a particularly lush crop of the stuff grows. Lynda noticed that it was in berry.

We are both fans of the leaves, but neither of us had read that you could eat the berries. We wondered whether we should try them.

Lynda is more intrepid than me, so she offered to go first. She took a tentative nibble, and said they were quite nice. I was still a wuss, so I just picked a few and brought them home to photograph on a bed of their leaves. (Above!)

Today, a good three days later, Lynda is still alive and well ;) - so I finally tried one of the berries. It was mild, salty, sweet and juicy all at the same time, with a texture a bit like watermelon.

I wonder if anyone else has heard of eating these berries? (Those of either beach spinach or its very close relative NZ spinach?) If so, I'd love to hear about it. In all the books and websites I've checked, the only use I can find for the berries is as a colouring.

Beach spinach is in the same family as iceplant, and certainly iceplant berries are known to be edible ...

I'll write about our other find tomorrow.