Did you know that fuchsia produces an edible berry which is good for making jam? It never occurred to me until today that some people didn’t know fuchsias are edible. Oh yes – I am pleased to inform you that Fuchsias are edible; with their natural and unique flavors. According to herbalists; hybrids are less strong in flavor.
Named after a German botanist of the 16th century, Leonard Fuchs, fuchsias grow in the cloud forests of Central and South America. The Bolivian Fuchsia (Fuchsia boliviana) is a medium evergreen shrub, growing to 2-4 m tall, rarely to 6 m, with a spreading, open habit. It has large, hairy mid-green leaves and red petioles. It has large drooping corymbs up to 20 cm long born in late summer and autumn of scarlet red flowers with the individual flowers 3-7 cm long. After flowering it bears small red-purple, edible fruit. There are about 110 species of Fuchsia. One species, Fuchsia magellanica, extends as far as the southern tip of South America occurring on Tierra del Fuego in the cool temperate zone, but the majorities are tropical or subtropical. The flowers are mostly in shades of pink, red, purple or white, but some salmon and near orange occur too.
Typically, these fruits are eaten fresh and are a great choice for adding to fruit bowls and the like. Many people describe the fruit as having a subtle grape flavor spiced with black pepper. The ancient Incas cultivated these exotic plant centuries ago, and the fruits are still sold in South American markets. The popularity of Fuchsias reached their height in England during the Victorian era. Fuchsias took on the common name of “lady’s eardrops” referring to their resemblance of the elaborate dangling earrings so popular at that time. All fuchsias are New World plants, first described by a French Jesuit missionary to the West Indies. He named the new genus after Leonard Fuchs, published in Nova Plant arum Americana rum Genera in 1703. By the end of the 18th century, hardy but small flowered Fuchsia magellanica had been widely cultivated in Europe. By the end of the 19th century fad for exotic plants, dozens of tropical species were crossed with F. magellanica to create innumerable hybrids. The ancestry of this and most modern hybrids is so ambiguous most are virtually impossible to trace. Are you convinced yet?
Either way, check out these sites: http://www.asiarecipe.com and middlepath.com – Perhaps you should read “Cooking with Flowers by Jekka McVicar” This colorful and illustrated book teach you how to use local wild plants and herbs in the same way that our ancestors have done for centuries. So be daring, and next time put on the table a salad bowl with these edible attractive blossoms. However, be careful when serving these fruits, for they can easily stain tablecloths, napkins, and even plastic dishes and serving bowls.
Wash and cover berries with water then boil until berries can be mashed. Strain through a cloth. To the measured juice in a saucepan add the exact amount of sugar specified in the recipe and mix well. Place over high heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. At once stir in the pectin and bring to a flill rolling boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat Skim off foam with a metal spoon and pour quickly into warm jars. Cover at once with greaseproof sealing covers.
Fuchsia ‘Spion Kop’
The vast majority of fuchsias with showy flowers fall into this hybrid group. Many hundreds of selections are sold in the West, offering a wide variety of combinations of all colors in the range. Sepals (the top parts that flare back) are always white, red, or pink. Corolla (inside part of flower) may be almost any color in range of white, blue violet, purple, pink, red, and shades approaching orange. Flowers range from shelled-peanut size to giants as big as a child’s fist. Some flowers are ’single, with just one layer of closely set petals in corolla; some are very double, with many sets of ruffled petals in corolla. Small-flowered types often have small leaves, while big-flowered sorts have large leaves.