Kakamachi (Solanum Nigrum / Black Nightshade) Uses + Jam Recipe

Botanical name: Solanum nigrum
Sanskrit name: Kakamachi
English name: Black nightshade.

Plant Description: This nightshade grows abundantly along the eastern fringe of Australia. It grows like a weed. It also grows in India, Americas and South Africa. It is native to Eurasia.

Pant Identification: The berries grow in clusters. If a plant has only single berries, it may be the poisonous Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), which rarely is found in Australia so don't worry

Parts Used

Berries - The berries are ripe thus safe to eat when they are dark purple/black colour. As with most nightshades, when the fruit is not ripe (in this case, green colour), it can be poisonous.

Leaves - According to Ayurveda, the leaves of Kakamachi is one of the best leafy green vegetables one can eat for health. Fry in ghee to purify

Whole plant - Root, ripe berries, seeds, leaves and stem are used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Health Benefit of Kakamachi

Skin Health - The whole plant is great for the skin(1) although it is slightly heating (usna virya). 

Liver Health - Whole plant is useful for the liver.

Lungs - Lung and respiratory health are one of Kakamachis main uses. The seeds are most useful for lung health.

Voice - Good for voice (singers eat those ripe tucker berries). Check out other methods to improve your voice.

Balances All 3 Doshas - Kakamachi alleviates all three doshas when vitiated(1) and is essential for kapha.

Aphrodisiac and Rejuvenator - The sweet taste (madhura rasa) supports this.(1)

Digestion - Causes easy movement of faeces and other waste products. 

Anti-Oxidant Rich - A group of phytochemicals known as anthocyanins are responsible for the dark blue colour as well as the flavonoids is what makes dark purple coloured fruits and berries high anti-oxidant thus prevent cell damage.

Caution: Only use fresh.

“[Kakamachi] when used fresh is a rejuvenator but used after some days it is poison.”
~ Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, (ch. 7, 243)

This means when you cook the leaves or berries, eat that fresh, don't keep it overtime and eat is later.

Kakamachi Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  1. 500g of fresh ripe kakamachi berries
  2. 400g of quality raw sugar
  3. 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Ideally, harvest your own kakamachi from a bush area that you know is organic and spray free.

Ensure the berries are fully ripe (dark purple/black colour). Don't harvest unripe (green or light purple colour) as that is poisonous.

It is rare to buy the berries commercially. Solanum nigrum is prohibited for trade as a food in Australiaby the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Plus it is more fun and rewarding when you input "more completely" in your creation process.

Method

  1. Remove the berries from the stems with your hands or isolate the berries while you forage them. Remove any bits of leaf and stalk.
  2. Gently wash the berries with fresh water. Careful because these berries are porous.
  3. Place the berries in a heavy-based pan and gently crush with a potato masher or squeeze with your hand, just enough to release some of the juices. Turn the pan on.
  4. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the pan and leave to simmer on low heat. Allow for 5 minutes of bubbles. Keep stirring to prevent the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan.

4.  Cook down for around 20 minutes. Allow about 5 minutes of bubbles to come while simmering

5.  Put the jam into clean jars. The jam will keep in a cool dark place for 1 year. Once opened keep in the fridge.

References:

(1) Caraka Samhita, Sutra sthana, chapter 27.


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