Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Fruit and other Family Favourites

Fruit like Chocolate?

I'm continuing to 'garden with gratitude' today as I share with you the fruits of our labour in a post which follows on from my previous one entitled 'The Retrospective Gardener' in which I look back at all that we have accomplished in the last nine years at our property 'Eight Acres of Eden.' It is helping me appreciate my garden more as I relate in words and pictures what our garden has been producing and what we are looking forward to when the trees we have planted reach full production. I'm up to number five on my list.

5. We planted a huge variety of fruit trees including many tropical fruit trees suitable for our climate. There have been successes and failures but the best is yet to come!

Easter is coming and perhaps you are anticipating chocolate or chocolate desserts but wishing there was a way you could consume this treat without the calories. Or how about sorbets? The mouthwatering desserts which are so refreshing on a hot summer's day but unfortunately with the sorbet comes the sugar - it's not just fair! What if I told you there is a fruit that tastes just like a chocolate pudding and another which reminded me of the lemon gelato I once enjoyed on a trip to Italy?

What if I told you that the fruits I am referring to are tropical fruits and I am growing them in my garden here at Eight Acres of Eden? The anticipation is almost too much - we have only had one dragonfruit thus far. It tasted so good! It was worth the wait for the fruit to mature and I am sure hoping for more than just one fruit in a season! How could a plant so ugly - it looks like a horizontal cactus growing along the fence that surrounds our orchard - produce such a delicious fruit?

The yellow dragon fruit - there is also a pink variety

It's sorbet-like interior - spoon out for a dessert that needs no dish!

I can hear you - you want to know about the one that tastes like chocolate - well it is a black sapote and is also called the 'chocolate pudding fruit' - because once you open it up it actually does have the texture on the inside of a chocolate pudding. I first saw these in a local wholefoods store and bought one just to try. It was good - not quite like a bar of Green and Blacks mind you, but it did remind me of chocolate mousse.

I was so excited about this fruit that I saved half for my husband. 'We have to grow this tree!" I told him with much enthusiasm as he came through the door that evening on his return from work. 'Don't we already have one of those?' he asked. 'Down by the coffee trees?' I flew out of the door and raced down to driveway where our planned hedge of coffee is establishing nicely. Sure enough there on the end was our black sapote and it was putting on a whole lot of new growth!

I noticed that there was still room for one more at the end of the row, so we purchased another. You can use the fruit in cakes, puddings and custards or just eat it straight out of the skin but it has to be really ripe. If you live in a tropical region and are growing this I would love to hear from you - how many fruit did it produce? What do you use the fruit for? I am so looking forward to a chocolate pudding harvest!

Our coffee hedge started from cuttings - we will be harvesting all the beans and intend to have a go at producing our own coffee. Imagining drinking our own coffee with a chocolate dessert made from the fruit of the black sapote!

6. We are growing and harvesting our own bananas at at time when prices in the shops are high.

This is our latest bunch of bananas - harvested just over a week ago, it is already ripening and the bananas are disappearing one by one. It is our best ever bunch of ladies fingers. Actually I'm eating one right now as I type this post! It is so sweet, so much nicer than the bananas I knew in England and New Zealand which were shipped and trucked thousands of miles from South America. What a blessing it is to be able to grow our own bananas. I am so grateful for this fruit from my garden. Last week in Aldi bananas were $10 a kilo and I was smiling - don't need to buy bananas this week or next week or the week after that! If we do have to buy bananas (between bunches of our own!) we buy them from the Farmer's market and not the supermarket.

Sometimes they ripen too quickly, so they are peeled and chopped up into small pieces and frozen in bags for use in banana cakes, breads and muffins. I always have a couple of willing helpers to do this for me!

Paw paws (or papaya) are another tropical fruit we grow with relative ease. We have to beat the bats to them once they start to ripen and sometimes pick them green. I've discovered the versatility of this fruit - slice up green paw paw for an Asian inspired salad or wait for them to fully ripen and use them in cakes just like you would banana.

There have been a few disappointments with tropical and unusual fruits. Wallabies wrecked our first mango trees - both of them and the latest one we have planted isn't looking good. We have planted it closer to the house where we can keep a close eye where no wallabies roam but it is not looking healthy at all. I expect to write its obituary soon! Goji berries we were excited to find at an online nursery - expensive but a worthwhile investment we thought until they died. It seems the super fruits are not so super in our garden. Never mind there are other fruits we are having a go at growing including blueberries and if they fail to thrive at least we have the ever reliable citrus loaded with vitamin C to fall back on!

Lemons, limes, cumquats

And our family's favourite citrus fruit - mandarins!

7. For the second year in succession the mandarin tree is loaded. The fruit is green at the moment but in just a few weeks as the cooler weather arrives and the onset of colds and flu with the change of seasons, the fruit ripens just at the perfect time. I think this is such an amazing gift from our Creator who designed everything to perfection including the time of harvest!

We have planted more citrus trees on the property - including navel and valencia oranges and a lemonade. The trees are starting to bear fruit but the big crops are a year or two away.

Another golden fruit which grows well in both warm and cooler climates is the tamarillo. In colder places the fruit turns a beautiful shade of deep red. I used it to make pear and tamarillo chutney - absolutely delicious, check my archives (In the Kitchen) for the recipe.

8. The cherry guava tree produces fruit year after year.

Already here when we arrived at the property it attracts the birds into the garden who also relish its fruit. If I can beat the catbird to the fruit I will make jelly - if not I'm content to leave the fruit on the tree and pick a few as I go past. Bite into the fruit and suck out the centre for a quick burst of sherbet sweetness! It is a tree to snack from!

Wait - there's more. In our orchard in the chicken run and fenced off from the chickens are more fruit trees. This is where our paw paws are planted alongside apples, plums, a tropical pear, peaches and Davidson plums. The Davidson plums are a native bush food - we have planted at least 4 and they look to be establishing well but still awaiting the arrival of the fruit for making jam and sauces. During summer we tasted our first peacharines - not a huge crop but hoping for more next summer. The apple trees burst into blossom but only a few Pink Ladies followed. Planting apples was taking a chance - would it be cold enough over winter we wondered? The apples that did appear were crisp and crunchy nothing like those pathetic cold stored apples that taste like mush that the supermarkets offer. We will persevere!

9. The $8 investment for a passion fruit vine paid off.

This is our second vine and I love its ability to camouflage the fence of the chicken run with its lush foliage. It also climbs over the roof of the chicken shed creating an arbour. Flowers and fruit follow and it is dripping with fruit again. Another versatile fruit for sauces, icing or just drizzling over other fruits in a fresh fruit salad.

We have also planted kiwi fruit vines (you need a male and a female) along the orchard fence.

There are a few more fruit trees that I have not given credit to that are already giving back to us from their bountiful harvest in their appointed season.

10. So thank you Lord for the weeping black mulberry tree - even if it does stain clothes and fingers, it is a sweet gift to this family!

The birds are thankful too and there is enough fruit to share!

So many reasons to garden with gratitude. I am so thankful that I have a garden in such a beautiful setting. I have not even listed the other gifts from the garden - the trees, the flowers, the scents, the birds, butterflies, bees, animals. A place where one can find solitude but also a place to gather. A garden well tended can feed the body, mind, spirit and soul. It is hard work - the cultivation - but from that comes results and a deep sense of satisfaction - as the author Emilie Barnes reflects in her inspiring book 'Time Began in a Garden.'

' The gardener's experience involves the deep satisfaction of working side by side with the Creator to develop a place of beauty, a safe and life- enhancing environment. The satisfaction of working hard and seeing results. It is also the artist's satisfaction of envisioning something beautiful and rendering that beauty tangible. It is the satisfaction of making the world a better place, of participating in an activity that has been bettering the world for countless centuries.'

I pray that you too will enjoy your gardening experience and see the fruits of your labour.

With Love and Joy,


Niki Jones said...

Ann, that all looks so delicious.
I am so jealous, we have only thus far harvested apples, blueberries, oranges & lemons from the fruit trees. But we hope this next summer will see the other trees & vines fruit.
I love love love this post, more please on your surrounding gardens, it all looks so beautiful.
I loved to see your vegie gardens too.
Oh and on the chocolate fruit, that is something I must try. Now.

Love Niki

Joolz said...

You are so lucky to have those abundant tropical fruits growing. I bought 2 lady finger bananas the other day to go with our lunch and paid... wait for it... $4.62 for TWO! They were beautifully ripe and ready to eat but a once a week treat! The downside of living in South Australia...

Cheers - Joolz

Maria said...

Oh Ann, that is amazing!! reading this from a wet spring day in the UK, where we will NEVER be able to grow paw paws, mangoes, or even citrus! (well okay maybe citrus if I had a greenhouse), you are making my mouth water.
If I am ever in that part of the world again, I will look out for chocolate pudding fruit :o) it sounds amazing.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I could get lost in your Garden....And happily Pig out on delicious fruit whilst Lost! Lol!!!

The Coderlambian said...

What a lovely garden! I have never heard of so many of those fruits! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

We have limited space but grow as much as we can. It does us good to look back and see what we have accomplished already. Sort of a done list as apposed to a to do list! :) I could not imagine life without fresh veggies and fruits! Or a life without dirt under my nails and playing in the garden! :) Your property looks very beautiful to me! Congratulations on all you have already accomplished!! Your bit of Eden is lovely! Sarah

Pam said...

Oh wow, I am just "eating this up"... no pun intended :). I love all of your trees. It is so delightful to read through all that you are doing and see the pictures. Your blog is appropriately named. I wonder if some of those trees would grow in Arizona (Much of my family live there). Those first two fruit trees sound amazing... I am willing to try dieting on chocolate fruit... yes siree! Love the post.
Many Blessings,

Pam said...

Ann, just wanted to let you know that I just tagged you for a little award that I wanted to pass on to you... so that you can pass on 7 random facts about yourself. So pop over, check it out, snag the tag and pass it on. Thanks Ann.
Blessings, Pam

Renata said...

Oh Ann
I wish I could come for a walk in your garden - it sounds lovely! We are slowly planting more fruit trees - I've just put in 4 apricots about a month ago! I am thinking about putting in apples this winter - I've heard that's when we should plant them around here - still trying to decide on what kinds to plant though!
I miss the bananas we grew in Qld - they were so much better than any that you can purchase in the store - & as you said they are so ridiculously expensive that I'm not even buying them at the moment!
I'd better go & see to the children - have a wonderful day


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