Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Blackberry Nightshade ... not so deadly after all

Solanum nigrum / Solanum Americanum

Solanum nigrum
in flower
As luck would have it that in my overgrown food forest blackberry nightshade of both varieties have flourished. Blackberry nightshade with it's matte berry clusters and American nightshade with it's glossy berry clusters have popped up everywhere. After intense familiarisation and checking every possible species indicator I decided to give these little known edibles with the deadly reputation, which is totally unwarranted, a gourmet go. Selecting only the ripest berries as particularly noted in most western wisdom as the only safe way to eat this plant. I have invariably found local knowledge of many native customs that enjoy much of the plant, even the green berries in the menu and medicinals.

Although a lot of research work has been done to quantify the nutritional and therapeutic value of black nightshade seed oil not as much has been looked into for the berries themselves. Reportedly having calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A and vitamin C they have 5.9% protein and are approximately 68 calories per 100gm.

Solanum nigrum
with berries
Eaten extensively by native Americans, notably the Cherokee. Iroquois and the Costanoan peoples. An important medicinal for depressive illnesses, psychological trauma and as part of the treatment for scarlet fever, psoriasis and toothache.

An important native crop in Africa with many traditional recipes one being fufu with the leaves and young shoots are served with cassava, plantains, yams and maize.

In India the berries serve as a fresh snack for children.The berries, leaves and shoots are more notably served in Northern Tamil Nadu, Southern Andhra and Southern Karnataka cuisines and is seen as a common and attractive part of many gardens although few commercial crops are evident.
It is known as manathakkali keerai in Tamil and makoi in Hindi.


Avocado and blackberry nightshade dip

Avocado and blackberry nightshade dip
serves as part of a cheese platter
1 ripe avocado, pitted, skinned and diced
100 gm soured cream
1 lime juiced
2 tablespoons blackberry nightshade berries

Blend the avocado and the lime juice until almost smooth.
Mix in the soured cream and the berries.
Serve with a cheese platter or as a dip.

Fig, blackberry nightshade and mint salsa

Fig, blackberry nightshade and mint salsa
3 ripe figs, diced
3 tablespoons blackberry nightshade berries
2 sprigs mint finely sliced
1 teaspoon black cherry vinegar (or any salad vinegar of your choice, balsamic is nice)

mix all ingredients and serve on soured cream on top of jacket potatoes. Particularly nice with slow cooked roast pork.

Chunky Guacamole with Blackberry Nightshade Berries

with blackberry nightshade
served as part of a salad
ingredients for guacamole
ready to be mixed
2 ripe avocados
1 cup coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped
1/4 cup blackberry nightshade berries
1/2 lime, juiced

mix all ingredients and serve

Weed Pie

A wander round my garden can offer many edibles, but the sly peak of edible weeds that come up randomly often excites the varied thoughts of how to include them in my menu.

Random weed forage from my garden

evenly distribute the flavours
random collection of edibles from the garden - here I have wild brassica flowers, oregano, pumpkin leaf and bud, fennel pollen, asparagus, society chive leaves and flowers, dandelion leaves, nasturtium leaves and flowers and wild mustard leaves.
1 cup blackberry nightshade berries
olive oil spray
4 duck eggs, can substitute 6 large hen eggs
8 large hen eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup ham, finely sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup cheese, grated

Weed pie
Spray the pie dish with oil and arrange your weed ingredients and ham to evenly distribute the flavours.
In a bowl beat the eggs and cream well and season. Pour the egg mix into the dish gently and allow some room for the eggs to rise.
sprinkle with grated cheese. I used a mature tasty, but stronger more bitter weeds could well take a blue cheese, milder weeds a cheddar.

Place the pie dish on a tray and into a moderate oven and cook until the centre has lost most of it's eggy wobble. Remove from the oven and allow to sit and set whilst you make a salad to serve.

Blackberry nightshade, Fig and Feta salad

2 ripe figs, diced
Blackberry nightshade, fig and feta salad
100 gm firm feta cubed
1/4 cup blackberry nightshade berries
1 tablespoon mint, finely shredded
1 teaspoon mint flowers
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
good shake of freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the oil, vinegar and black pepper well.
mix the salad ingredients allowing the feta to break up a little.
Dress the salad and serve as a side to game meats, steaks or pork

Still Not Dead!

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