Yew Berries?

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punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
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So I came across some ripe yew berries yesterday evening. After reading up about them recently I decided to try them. They were super soft, really watery almost, but kind of sugary-sticky, gloopy like. So I just popped one in my mouth and sucked the juice out of them and spat the pip out as per guidelines. I can't quite believe how sugary they are, like grenadine syrup!

Has anyone else tried them? Is there a way to process a whole bunch of them? Can you steep them for a sugary tea or squeeze them? Just a little concerned about the pip in the middle but they seem well worth the effort.

Discalimer: Please don't eat the pip/seed as it is poisonous.
 
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Onelifeoverland

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Mar 3, 2020
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The traditional way is in the mouth as you have done. Otherwise remove it with a thin tweezers or cocktail stick or similar.

Someone better informed will be along soon no doubt but I'm fairly certain I am right in saying that steeping or boiling etc will pull the toxins from the seed into your lovely sugary juices which will make them lovely sugary juices laced with taxine.

If you ask me there are other options for sweet sugary juices that are a considerably safer bet.

OLO
www.onelifeoverland.com
 

punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
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The traditional way is in the mouth as you have done. Otherwise remove it with a thin tweezers or cocktail stick or similar.

Someone better informed will be along soon no doubt but I'm fairly certain I am right in saying that steeping or boiling etc will pull the toxins from the seed into your lovely sugary juices which will make them lovely sugary juices laced with taxine.

If you ask me there are other options for sweet sugary juices that are a considerably safer bet.

OLO
www.onelifeoverland.com
Thanks - I figured as much with the steeping- I know what you are saying regarding safety and I understand that toxins aren't to be messed with. It just seems like one of those wild foods that a little understanding will go a long way with, so many wild foods seem to be misunderstood and discarded due to safety concerns I.e. Bivalve molluscs, mushrooms etc. When really they are perfectly safe when harvested / processed in the right way.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Yes I've tried them and quite like them. However, I refrain from eating them because I wouldn't want any kid watching me from a distance have a go without proper instruction. I sometimes will do it to provoke people :)
 
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Onelifeoverland

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Mar 3, 2020
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Caerphilly, South Wales, UK
Thanks - I figured as much with the steeping- I know what you are saying regarding safety and I understand that toxins aren't to be messed with. It just seems like one of those wild foods that a little understanding will go a long way with, so many wild foods seem to be misunderstood and discarded due to safety concerns I.e. Bivalve molluscs, mushrooms etc. When really they are perfectly safe when harvested / processed in the right way.
I agree. However, imagine you need 500 berries to make a decent amount of jam. Probably less than 10 will need the seeds left in to make you a very sick person. So yes is perfectly possible but on the balance of probability unless one is particularly careful some may slip through the net.

As i say I steer clear personally but it'd be good to see the results if you do give it a go. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that do process large amounts of yew berries.

OLO
www.onelifeoverland.com
 
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Paul_B

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Jul 14, 2008
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My view is save it for emergencies or if you had to. When yew berries are about, well what are the alternative options available to you?

There was a ray Mears show where they processed and laboratory tested a food source with toxins in. A rather lot of effort and there were still toxins present. Not really worth it in the modern world.
 
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punkrockcaveman

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Thanks Paul all good info. This is very true, plenty of blackberries about, the hawthorn fruit seems to be ripening early this year (brought on by extra rainfall perhaps? always though sunshine was the main ripening factor for fruit) Rowan, crab apple etc, not to mention nuts, it's not like where not spoilt for choice at the moment.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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I'm very fond of them too :)
They are a seasonal treat, something to look forward to.

The seeds are easily seperated from the arial, just don't damage the seed case and you'll be fine.

Fergus the forager did a lovely tart with them, and it didn't need pounds of them to make either.
He just used tweezers to take out the seed and keep the arials whole for his tart.

 

punkrockcaveman

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Thanks Toddy that's great :) I think tweezers are the way forward for me. Like folk have already suggested even spitting the seed, it's not worth the risk, so I'll move forward by removing the seed with tweezers first to ensure that it isn't ingested.
 

demographic

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Apr 15, 2005
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Don't eat the seeds, poisonous, I'm surprised nobody has mention that yet.:)

Ive tried the berry, as mentioned very sweet but with little or no flavour. Wasn't blown away by em and never bothered since.
 

Paul_B

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What was that about the seeds?

Out of curiosity, what would you use should your have need of becoming a murderer? Would yew seeds be potent enough? Or perhaps foxglove is better? How about making someone a tart from the berries of those little stalks of bright red berries that I think are called black briony bit could be wrong.

Sorry for this dangerously off topic digression. It was really to find out how bad yew seeds really are compared to what people could mistakenly forage and eat.

PS I recently taught my 7 yo about a natural itching powder. He's a good kid so I don't think he'll actually make it. We'll see.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Foxglove is not a deadly poison as such - it affects the heart rhythm so may kill someone with a heart problem; it contains cardiac glycosides (digoxin, digitoxin, lanatosides) and is lethal in overdose. Mind you, anything can kill you in excess, even water. I'm not going to discuss poisons on an open family forum but just to say there are some very serious and lethal ones out there in the British countryside that can kill with very small dosages.

Yew is used medicinally - an anti-cancer drug is derived from the leaves and/or bark for example. 50g of Yew needles are lethal to a human. The seeds contain a higher dose of the alkaloids (taxine).
 

Onelifeoverland

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Mar 3, 2020
301
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Caerphilly, South Wales, UK
What was that about the seeds?

Out of curiosity, what would you use should your have need of becoming a murderer? Would yew seeds be potent enough? Or perhaps foxglove is better? How about making someone a tart from the berries of those little stalks of bright red berries that I think are called black briony bit could be wrong.

Sorry for this dangerously off topic digression. It was really to find out how bad yew seeds really are compared to what people could mistakenly forage and eat.

PS I recently taught my 7 yo about a natural itching powder. He's a good kid so I don't think he'll actually make it. We'll see.
Funny you should mention that. After seeing OPs original post I did a quick Google and found this old story.

BBC News - Ben Hines died after ingesting yew tree poison


OLO
www.onelifeoverland.com
 
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