I am a lover of discovering new and bizarre produce. Part of it is my fascination with plants: the way they grow, the forms they take on. To me it is miraculous. Plants remind me that I live on a fascinating, strange world.
There’s another part of me that is very into food security. I love learning about new foods because they are resources. I want to know how to grow my own food because it tastes good, and it feels right to me.
It’s an enormous world once you step into it, connecting with biology, chemistry, flavours and the seasons.
I just got back from spending Christmas in Southern California, a totally different climate zone than where I live. We were staying with my mom’s best friend Valerie, a landscape designer and raw foodist. She has some very interesting produce growing in her back yard!
When I tried a myrtle berry, my first hit was that it tasted like black pepper! Turns out this isn’t such a strange observation, as the myrtle berry is also known as a pepper berry. The Romans considered it an aphrodisiac.
I decided to experiment and make a sauce for the salmon that we were making for Christmas Eve. It turned out pretty good! This sauce tastes like it’s been carefully spiced, but there are no added spices. As I said, the myrtle berry tastes naturally of black pepper and adds quite a bit of character to the sauce. The colour of this sauce is a deep red wine colour. It tastes even better a day later.
One of the challenges with myrtle berries is that they are very small (smaller than a typical blueberry) and full of seeds. It’s possible that if you pick them at a different time of year the seeds wouldn’t be so developed. I don’t know. The seeds have an astringent taste that I’m not so into. I ended up blending the bejesus out of the fresh berries, grinding the seeds into little tiny particles. This worked pretty well, but it would be best to remove the seeds if you can at all figure out how to do that!
- Myrtle berries, about 1 cup
- Juice of 4 grapefruits
- Cranberries, about 1 cup
- Lemon juice to taste
- Wash the myrtle berries and remove any stems.
- Grind myrtle berries with a strong blender. A smaller one works well for the small amount. You can add some water to help with the blending. Give it a good go until the seeds break down and the texture feels good. Or if you can find a way to remove the seeds, do that.
- Juice the grapefruits and put the juice and myrtle berry puree into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Cook the liquids down until they are approaching a sauce-like consistency. Add the cranberries.
- Put the lid on as the cranberries will pop and splatter dark red goo all over everything if left uncovered.
- Cook until the cranberries have become incorporated into the sauce.
- Add lemon and anything else you’d like to taste.
- Enjoy with salmon, turkey or…. your wildest dreams!