Sometimes it is hard to separate my love of cooking and that of creating perfumes. Groot Noem Noem – Carissa macrocarpa (Also called Natal plum and Amatungulu in Zulu) symbolizes for me how these two passions can happily co-exist. You will often find on the same bush both flowers and ripe fruit.
Generally Gordans Bay, where I now live, is not any easy place for gardening. Plants have to be both wind and drought resistant. Noem Noem does grow happily here and seem to thrive in the sea breeze. To my good fortune the entire beach front in Gordans Bay is hedged with bushes of Noem Noem, so I have no lack of supply of flowers and fruits. The heavenly scent is most surprising; it is like a cross between White Frangipani (Plumeria alba) and Tuberose. Although its fragrance intensifies at night; its scent is still intense during the day. Noem-Noem also has a long flowering-season which gives one enough time to make strong extractions in one season. I have only been busy with the tincture and enfleurage for a week, but already both has absorbed the scent well enough for me to look forward to good end results.
It always surprises me how few people know that the fruits are edible. Perhaps it is because the fruits are so brightly coloured that they appear to be purely ornamental. In warm areas the fruits appear through the year. They can be eaten out of hand or made into pies, jams, jellies, and sauces. The fruit is rich in Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
In the past it was rare that I could gather enough fruits to make jelly as my children devour the fruits long before I get a chance to make anything from it. The lovely red fruits have a sweet sour taste and are especially high in pectin and thus great for making jellies. The following recipe is from Betsie Rood’s wonderful book “Kos uit die veldkombuis.”
Noem- Neom Jelly
Pluck firm, ripe fruits. Wash the fruits and cut them into pieces including the skin. Add just enough water to cover them and cook until soft. Put aside and let it cool for a few hours. Pour through a sift. Measure the liquid.
For every 500ml of liquid add 400g of white sugar. Slowly heat until boiling and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Filter the syrup; don’t press through or else the jelly will be cloudy.
Cook the filtrate at a fairly high temperature, until it jells when a small amount is dropped on a cold saucer. Remove the scum bottle and seal while still warm.