As I was removing the dried fuchsia heads of the hanging flower basket my fingers were drenched in the berry juice. I licked my fingers instinctively... and in the midst of tasting the sweet juice I froze, panicked that I had just poisoned myself. I immediately ran to Google to confirm if I was going to die... thankfully there were recipes for jam instead.
Some neat facts and tips for eating fuchsias:
- The berries can vary in shape and size depending on the flowers it comes from. My fuchsia were very big and produced peanut sized fruit.
- Ripe fruits are tender and juicy and usually 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, maroon to black or blue-black. Pick them when they are soft and squishy.
- Some varieties apparently aren’t as flavorful as others—deer will eat one plant to the ground and leave the one next to it alone.
- Good-quality fruits of Fuchsia magellanica have a subtle grape flavor with a slight black-pepper note. Fruits of F. splendens have a tart, lemony flavor.
- You can crystallize the flowers with egg whites and sugar.
- Fuchsia berries are sold in markets in strawberry baskets in Bolivia and Peru.
- The flowers are also edible but can be mild to bitter.
- Single-flowered varieties will usually produce more fruit than semi-double and fully double varieties because they don't have to produce as many petals.
- Before eating the flower remove all green and brown bits and the stamen pistils as this will enhance the flavour.
- It takes a long time to get enough berries. If you have to save up your berries for a batch of jam or a tart, freeze them in the meantime. Salads will require fresh, unfrozen berries.
- Species and cultivars notable for flavor and productivity include:
- Fuchsia corymbifolia
- F. excorticata aka Kotukutuku
- F. magellanica and cultivars 'Globosa' and 'Tresco'
- F. procumbens
- F. splendens and cultivar 'Karl Hartweg'
- F. venusta
Fuchsia Berry Jelly
1 cup fuchsia flowers
1 cup ripe, washed fuchsia berries
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups of water (or apple juice or apple cider)
1 apple, sweet, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin
Simmer flowers, berries, sugar, lemon juice, water, and apple for 10 minutes. Let mixture cool a bit, then strain it. Add the gelatin and allow to thicken in refrigerator.
Fuchsia Berry Jam
1 lb. sugar
2 tablespoons water (or apple pectin, apple juice or cider)
juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ lb. of ripe fuchsia berries, washed
Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan and cook carefully over low heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Add the berries gently, folding them into the mixture so as not to break up the berries too much. Bring the mixture slowly to a boil.
Boil until the mixture will set when tested on a plate.
Seal in heated jars. Allow to cool completely before eating, then enjoy!