Keeping those pesty moths in check
it’s not difficult. Cut firm fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. (Reserve the skins to make feijoa jelly). Place the scooped fruit into a large bowl of water with the juice of 1 lemon (this stops the fruit turning brown as you work). In a large pot, dissolve 1 cup sugar to 3 cups water. When simmering, gently lower the feijoas into the syrup and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Then, using a slotted spoon, pack the stewed feijoas into hot glass jars, top up with the stewing syrup, and screw on lids to seal. Turn the jars upside down (the extra heat improves the strength of the seal) until cool. Pears are also easy to preserve this way, as the fruit is firm and holds its shape. • A tip for making quince paste. Instead of boiling chopped quinces, cook them whole in your slow cooker until their flesh is tender and rose-pink, then squish off the skins and slide out the cores. It’s the easiest way to get a smooth pulp.
Combine this pulp with the same amount of sugar and cook slowly, stirring constantly, in a large heavy frying pan, for 30 minutes (or more), until thick and dark. This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at: getgrowing.co.nz
with difficulty in many parts of New Zealand as if they take too long to set their fruit, there’s every chance it won’t fully ripen before the warm weather runs out. Melons need a reliably hot summer to germinate, flower, set fruit, fatten it up and ripen, and the weather hasn’t done them any favours this season. Like pumpkins, if they aren’t reaching maturity by now, they might start to soften and rot in the cooler weather to come. That’s because the fruit ends up sitting on damp, dewy soil for most of the day.
Can you do anything to speed up ripening so all that effort doesn’t go to waste? You can lift the fruit up off the soil – use a small brick or an upturned terracotta pot – to keep it warmer and drier, or slip a piece of black polythene under it.
Don’t judge ripeness by size, as tennis ball-sized rockmelons (like mine) can be just as sweet and juicy as rugby ball-sized watermelons. When the vine starts to shrivel back, tap the fruit gently – if ripe, they will sound slightly hollow – and be aware that birds are liable to peck holes in them if you leave them unattended.