A plum-apri­cot col­lab­o­ra­tion

When you mix up plums and apri­cots, the re­sult is de­li­cious.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - BEN GAIA Rob’s plum­cots.

Afriend and I were talk­ing about all the funny cross­breed fruits you can get. Rob couldn’t stop rav­ing about his plum­cots. “You’ll have to come and taste them when they’re ready,” he said, so I did, and it was great. There was fresh plum­cot jam on the ta­ble, ready to feed me and three Ger­man wwoofers who were help­ing out with weed-eat­ing on Rob’s block.

I had to have sec­onds and thirds with my whole­meal toast. Rob’s plum­cot jam tasted just like a cross be­tween apri­cot and plum which is ex­actly what this fruit sup­pos­edly is, a very at­trac­tive-look­ing deep, rich, golden blood-or­ange colour. The tex­ture is that of a juicy, small, sweet plum, but the flavour re­tains the in­tense zesty tart­ness of an apri­cot.

This unique fruit makes sweet and highly-flavoured yummy jam, desserts and pre­serves, it’s very high in vi­ta­min A, and the taste has been de­scribed as like fruit punch.

Rob bought his trees from a her­itage fruit nurs­ery in South Taranaki called Te Kahuri Nurs­eries (www.tekahur­in­urs­eries. co.nz). This nurs­ery grows its stock in the open ground, nat­u­rally, with no chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers or pes­ti­cides so the trees are very healthy, and free of dis­ease and fun­gus.

A plum­cot will ba­si­cally grow any­where in­land that would suit a plum, so they can han­dle heav­ier soils and heavy rain, but need free drainage and an­nual feed­ing. They can get quite big like a large plum tree, so be pre­pared to trim back ex­ces­sively long branch­ing fin­gers.

They pro­duce a good crop from an early age, re­li­able and heavy-bear­ing, ripen­ing in Fe­bru­ary. Plum­cot blos­som pol­li­nates other plums too, like Duff’s Early Jewel, and Santa Rosa.

Seven years at Rob’s place have seen his trees grow vig­or­ously in the West Coast rain. They are grafted her­itage va­ri­eties saved from old farm or­chards, and Rob also saves the pips and hopes they will grow true from seed. I have thrown some of his pips into the freezer to try and en­cour­age them to sprout for me.

These trees are cov­ered in fruit over sum­mer. Rob has them in a spot shel­tered from the sea gales, sit­ting in a north-fac­ing gully on free-drain­ing tail­ings which have had 10 years of grass clip­pings, gar­den waste and cow ma­nure dumped

It looks like a juicy, small, sweet plum but has all the zesty tart­ness of an apri­cot.

on top to build soil fer­til­ity and hu­mus. Last year they were mulched with thick news­pa­per to com­bat weeds, and this year with waste wood ve­neer and a hand­ful of clover seed to sup­ple­ment the ni­tro­gen robbed by the mulch.

In Fe­bru­ary, Rob places large mats un­der­neath each tree to catch the fruit, like the Ital­ians do with their olive trees.

Plum­cot jam.

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