We have a plethora of wild lupins around and I have come across references to the use of lupins as a food source in the past. Everything seems to be about the mature seeds and their alkaloid content. Can the green pods be picked and eaten like snow pea's? I'm asking if the alkaloids are present in the immature seeds/pods or develop only in the mature seeds? Also anyone know anything about other parts of the plant as food like the roots?
All of my edible and medicinalbooks state that lupines are poisonous, due to the toxic alkaloids such as lupinine and sparteine. But, the different varieties vary in alkaloid content. Several European varieties have less of this and are qualified as "sweet" being that they are not as bitter. One of the books states that you have to soak and then boil in several changes of water the seeds to remove the bitter toxins or they can cause dizziness and disorientation, also lupine poisoning can cause slow breathing and reduced heart rate.
My understanding, and Plants for a Future agrees, is that the toxins vary quite a bit from plant to plant and from species to species. There is a group, and on a better day I could say who, that is breeding lupins for animal and human food. One good point: the toxins taste horid and can be leached out. If they don't taste bitter, they are edible. If they do taste bitter and you're desperate, soak them in cold water until the bitterness is gone.
In short: Even if they are edible, they may be more risk and/or work than they are worth.
You can make any lupin seeds edible when you brine them first. It is a must do to make them safely edible for humans!
First put the lupin seeds in a pot of cold water (without salt). Change the water every 12 hours (don't reuse it). Now and then try one lupin seed and spit it out when it is still bitter. When the lupin seeds are not bitter anymore make a brine. Boil the lupin seeds 10 minutes in 5 cups of water + 1 cup of salt (for 2 1/2 cups of lupin seeds). Put them while still hot with brine to the top in a preserving glass for 3 days. You can put herbs in the preserving glasses and try some different tastes. I like them with garlic.
After that you can eat them as a snack like it is done in many mediterranean countries or wash, dry, roast them and use them as a coffee-ersatz. You can even refine lupin seeds to "lopino" useable like soja but with a strong nuttily taste.
PS: Damn, next time I read the full thread completly before posting. See my answer as addition to homesteadpaul's very good answer.
Life that has a meaning wouldn't ask for its meaning. - Theodor W. Adorno
I read that in Australia they have developed several lupins which are free of the toxic alkaloids but I haven't been able to track them down. The company ( Viterra) is an international one and we have a tiny branch outlet here but they knew nothing about it. Said they would look into it but that was several months ago..I wasn't interested in a couple of tons of seed so not really of interest to them.
The thing is that lupin seed has lots going for it IF you are willing to deal with the toxins as mentioned above. There are some health food stores which apparently sell lupin seed in Canada but there have been some problems according to the news stories. Not sure if they were from the seed from the health food stores or if someone just collected wild lupin seed. I don't trust any of these stories to make such fine distinctions..reporters are often sloppy about such details these days. Richter's Herbs sells seed from Italy but it's pretty pricey and you still would have to process the seed to be able to use it I believe.
Normally lupin are poisonous to livestock so although they are supposed to be wonderful at improving soils I am unwilling to bring them into my land. Also they apparently cross happilly with any other lupins around so not sure if even the toxin free ones would be a long term solution free of concern if you have wild lupin around. Aside from that they are a very pretty and easy care flower.
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