Iceplant / Pigface / Sour Fig
Iceplant (Carpobrotus spp)
My favorite new discovery this Summer, known as Iceplant, Pigface or Sour Fig (Carpobrotus species). The taste is just something else, so umami and uncommon, like nothing else you've ever tasted. A mix between a fig & a strawberry, with lots of saltiness.
What's super cool about this invasive 'weed' is that you've probably seen it growing all over the sand dunes your whole life, yet never realised it's edible. Invasive weeds really are the shizzle when it comes to sustainable foraging. No overharvesting endangered species or upsetting nature's balance when we're talking invasivore plants that councils and landowners are trying to get rid of....just be mindful not to spread the seeds around or destroy the dunes when gathering.
Originally from South Africa a few varieties of Iceplant have naturalised along the coastlines of New Zealand and many other countries. The name derives from the Greek karpos meaning fruit and brotos meaning edible. That's easy, an edible fruit! I most commonly find the Carpobrotus Chilensis with pink flowers, or pictured here the Carpobrotus edulis with yellow flowers.
You can use the green parts just like Aloe Vera for burnt skin, cuts, scratches or for sore throats. Super handy if you don't have Aloe Vera growing at home.
I've been playing around with this one in food this summer, I've made a delicious sauce which we've been drizzling on breakfast cereals and desserts. This week I made some delicious muffins and folded the sweet paste into the mix. Recipe coming tomorrow so keep an eye on my page!
I reckon they are super ripe for the picking NOW! You can eat the whole plant but the green fruit are disgustingly astringent, the orange-red are manageable, but it's the over-ripe dark red, almost shrivelled up dry/brown fruits that are my favorite. The fruits that look like they're past it - they're the best ones.
This is just another example of an introduced species, classified as a pest, which is actually an amazing free food & medicine resource that we can tap into, so abundant on my local coastline!