A plum-apricot collaboration
When you mix up plums and apricots, the result is delicious.
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.