The holidays are here, and native plants are a great way to enjoy the season. The fall issue of the new CNPS magazine, Flora, features a collection of seasonal native plant recipes from Alicia Funk, founder of the Living Wild Project and co-author of Living Wild — Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a few of our favorites, so give them and try and let us know what you think!
This week, we’re starting with Alicia’s recipe for Madrone “Beyond Cranberry” Sauce. Late fall is a great time to collect madrone berries, but unless you are picking from a tree on your property, please see our notes below the recipe. (Want to grow a madrone tree for your garden? See its profile on Calscape.org to discover where it grows, get landscaping tips, and find out which native nurseries near you carry these beautiful trees.)
Madrone “Beyond Cranberry” Sauce
Collect berries in late fall.
1 3⁄4 cup fresh madrone berries (stems removed)
1⁄4 cup fresh toyon berries (stems removed)
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup apple juice, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1⁄2 cup honey
1 tablespoon arrowroot or organic cornstarch
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Mix berries, water, apple juice and honey in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir arrowroot or cornstarch into 2 tbsp apple juice. Pour into berries and stir constantly while bringing to a boil. Remove from heat and add orange zest. Allow to cool before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Variation: If toyon berries are plentiful, instead of madrone berries, simmer 1 cup dried toyon berries, 1 cup water, 1 cup apple juice and 1⁄2 cup honey, and then follow the same recipe.
Avoid problems with wild plant collection
CNPS generally advises against collecting wild native plants, since toxic species can be misidentified as edible plants and wild collection runs the risk of harming sensitive species and habitats. Growing your own native habitat is a great solution that gives you easy access to an abundance of useful plants.
Next week: Manzanita Hard Cider!