Num num yumminess: A recipe using indigenous plant, Carissa macrocarpa

Written by Gael & Roushanna Gray & Catherine Browne

We have a lovely contribution from Gael & Roushanna of Veld and Sea, sharing about the Natal Plum, a gorgeous indigenous edible plant. They have kindly let us in on one of their recipes to enjoy using this plant….mmmm…read on and let your mouth water and your kitchen call…

Carissa berry (Carissa macrocarpa) is commonly known as ‘Num-num’. The humble Num-num bush has big spiky thorns, protecting its delicate jasmine-like flowers and plump, juicy red berries. When you pick a Carissa berry, you will find a milky latex at the base of the berry– this milky latex is usually a warning sign in most plants – but in the Carissa berry, it is unusually edible.

The berries are rich in pectin, which makes them great to add to jams, preserves and relishes, binding everything beautifully and glossing it with a ruby-red hue. It is also very high in vitamin C making it a nutritious snack eaten raw.

carissa and beetroot relish
© R. Gray

Recipe: Carissa berry, beetroot and apple relish

Serves 6–8

What you will need:

¼ cup of Carissa berries, sliced

2 apples cored, peeled and diced

4 small beetroots, peeled and diced

¼ cup of sugar

2 tbs honey

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

3 cloves

1 tbs fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

Salt and pepper



Place all the ingredients in a small pot, except for the honey. Simmer over a low heat until most of the liquid has reduced, for approximately 40 minutes. When it starts to look bubbly and sticky, add the honey and simmer at a low heat for another 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool down.

Pour it over a soft, room-temperature cheese such as Camembert or Brie cheese. Try to share it with your friends – that’s if it even makes it out of your kitchen!

© R. Gray

How to grow Carissa

Carissa macrocarpa, or ‘Num-num’, is a handsome evergreen shrub with fairly large shiny leaves, and grows to about 2 metres in height. It has thick sharp thorns and can be used to create an effective, impenetrable hedge. Carissa is found naturally in coastal areas from Humansdorp, all the way up to Mozambique.

Although able to survive drought and poor soil very well, it grows faster in good soil with some watering. Carissa berry produces beautifully-scented white flowers from spring to mid-summer, and is followed by large red fruits rich in Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Carissa can be grown easily from seed sown in the spring, but it can also be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings in spring.
Copywrite 2016 Gael and Roushanna Gray


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BotSoc thanks these lovely ladies for sharing this delicious-sounding recipe with us, and for the information about another great indigenous plant. We hope our readers are enjoying our varied blog content. If you enjoy what you read, please follow our blog so that you don’t miss out on our latest postings.

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Until next time…


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The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) are an NGO conserving and educating about biodiversity for over 100 years.

One thought on “Num num yumminess: A recipe using indigenous plant, Carissa macrocarpa”

  1. That plant is grown a lot in San Diego, California. Few people eat the berries though, because they are usually just grown as a hedge. That recipe looks good band would be a great way to use the Natal plum n


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