Yum Yum..Edible New Zealand Plants!
What better way to get at one with New Zealand nature by going bush..DOC provide many walks throughout the country and provide an excellent way to get in the thick of it, check out http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/ for a full list.
Have you ever thought about the native plants you are walking past as a source of food? Might be of interest to know that many are edible and provide a great source of nutrients. I personally tend to stick to the coast and often find myself snacking on greenery such as the Neptunes Necklace (Hormosira banksii) which is_ _great for a crunchy snack when surfacing from a dive or the sea lettuce which is great to supplement a meal of crayfish. The Neptunes Necklace is one of New Zealands most common sea weeds and found on rocks below the high tide mark. Each little bead is about a centimeter or so in diameter.
My favourite would have to be using Bull Kelp to cook fish in..Perhaps its the caveman coming out in me but there’s something about getting completely back to nature and living off the land like it was done by local Maori many years ago. Simply cut open some kelp down the side, place the gutted fish inside and put it in the embers for 15 minutes or so. The kelp should be burnt but the fish inside will be nicely steamed. How about brewing up a pot of Manuka tea? Captain Cook and his men were casual drinkers of the stuff who described it as “a bitter scent and flavour when they are recent, which loses some of both when dried”, which when interpreted means you should get ‘em while the leaves are young. About one teaspoon per cup is the reccommended amount and leave for about 4 minutes to brew. It’s also possible to make beer from Manuka.
Another edible plant is the native fern PikoPiko (Polystichum richardii) which is found throughout New Zealand from coastal areas to mountains and normally eaten around this time (Spring/Summer). The part that is eaten is the new shoots or ‘fiddleheads’ as seen in the picture here. They can be eaten raw of I prefer them steamed a little to soften them up and adding them to a meal as a vegie. Remember to wash all the greenery in clean water and only take a little!