Hi Louise, when I was a kid we used to eat these berries but it was the older siblings that used to prepare them. However, I am borrowing a Maori Cookbook from a friend & this is how it discribes the preparation of karaka berries.
Before Karaka Berries can be eaten, the ripe berries that have fallen from the tree are gathered from the ground. In prehistoric times, the kernels were collected in baskets and trodden with the bare feet in water to work off the outer fleshy part before being baked in a hangi for 24 hrs and stored away in baskets. It is advisedable today for quick and easy preparation to select those berries which have lost most of the rich deep orange outer flesh. Flesh covered seeds still need to have their protective covering removed by rubbing or peeling.
Having done this, place in a container and cover with cold water. Boil for 3 -4 hours to destroy the ferment which acts on an alkaloid called karakine and releaseds prussic acid. Seeds with flesh can be removed from the container and treated so as to remove it before being returned for further cooking. After boiling for the specified time, remove the kernels from the cooker and place in a container. Cover with cold water and steep for a week. The kernels are then ready to eat. Cut the kernel at one end while peeling with one continous strip to the opposite end of the seed.
For long keeping, remove the nuts from the steeping container and spread out to dry in the sun. When throughly dry, store in a sugar bag or basket and hang in a cool, well ventilated place.
did you also eat Totara Berries? I have a big crop. They taste good as they are, but I was thinking of trying to maybe preserve them. Any ideas?
Yes I love totara berries...ate them alot when I was a kid & on the odd ocassion now when I spy one on a friends property hehe. Wish I could help you with a recipe to preserve them but I have never tried them other than plain ole fresh.
Good luck with trying to pick more than a handful & unless you have a ladder or can reach the branches to pull down, you're going to have very sore arms reaching up for them.
I understood that it was the time of ripening that made these more poisonous but you still have to prepare them the traditional way and I havelost my recipe.
Dr David Klinac is researching the karaka as a potential nut crop including poison removal with funding from the NZ Tree Crops Association. There are a couple of articles on Karaka in the TCA journal, TreeCropper, issue 52 (2007) p. 12 and issue 54 (2008) p.24. With any luck you should be able to get a copy through your local public library.
Apparently some enterprising person is using the ripe fleshy part to make an alcoholic drink :-) Cheers!
As far as i know the 'RAW BERRIES' of karaka are edible when ripe (late summer early autumn) but the 'KERNELS' need to be treated by boiling or steaming then leaving in running water (a stream) for a week, before drying. Then refreshed to be eaten by lightly steaming, traditionaly eaten like a gruel.