Ir­ri­ga­tion hi­ber­nates for win­ter

Marlborough Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - SHERYN CLOTH­IER

gloves, so I stomp on them with my gum­boots to sep­a­rate the nuts from the burr and use a pair of kitchen tongs to pick both up. Be sure to pierce the shell if roast­ing them as, ex­cit­ingly, they can ex­plode. I toss them in a bit of salt and oil be­fore roast­ing over the fire or in a hot oven for 15 min­utes.

Al­ter­na­tively, place them in cold wa­ter and bring to a sim­mer for 15–20 min­utes or un­til the flesh is ten­der. Shell while warm and freeze to use in stir-fries, stews and casseroles over win­ter.

Ginkgo nuts come from the fruit of the fe­male ginkgo tree which has an aroma some liken to vomit. It is not that bad and the fruit are quickly re­moved in wa­ter be­fore leav­ing the nuts to air dry. Store the nuts in the fridge and be care­ful to never con­sume too many (more than 10) in a day. A few are very good for you – too many can be toxic. Roast and boil them be­fore eat­ing.

Wal­nuts, al­monds and hazel­nuts can all be left to dry in their shells. Keep them some­where dry and cool and well out of reach of rats. Dry­ing time can be as lit­tle as three to four days with good air­flow, so crack one oc­ca­sion­ally to see if the ker­nel is brit­tle.

There are a huge range of nut crack­ers out there and I am­sure ev­ery­one has their favourite. My hus­band favours his vice grips, but for bulk crack­ing you can pur­chase a drill at­tach­ment that can be ad­justed for any size nut and which sits over a bucket. ‘Mono­vale’ al­monds have a par­tic­u­larly hard shell – make an in­den­ta­tion in a board to stand them up­right and hit them with a ham­mer.

Once cracked, store the ker­nels in­def­i­nitely in the freezer to keep them fresh. The com­mon, large ‘Wil­son’s Won­der’ walnut goes ran­cid quite quickly (about three months) if left in the shell at room tem­per­a­ture.

The fei­joas are start­ing to fall and though I am­sure I will be sick of them by the end of the sea­son, at the mo­ment we are still eat­ing as many as the tree drops in a day.

‘Unique’ is in full flow now

with ‘Apollo’ start­ing and just a few of the ‘Wiki Tu’ drop­ping to al­low us a taste com­par­i­son. ‘Tri­umph’ is loaded but the fruit will come later.

Tast­ing the va­ri­eties all at once like this high­lights their dif­fer­ence in both flavour and grit­ti­ness, and it is not just be­cause it is the first each sea­son that ‘Unique’ rates the best for me flavour-wise. Un­for­tu­nately it is not the best tree-wise. I have had trou­ble with brit­tle branches, and half the tree snapped off last year with the weight of the fruit. I am­not sure if that is a nu­tri­tional or va­ri­etal prob­lem but since I like the fruit so much I per­sist with ju­di­cious prun­ing and a funny-shaped tree. I have con­sid­ered plant­ing other va­ri­eties that ap­par­ently fruit even ear­lier, but I want to taste them first. ‘Apollo’ has a sweet, mild taste that oth­ers love, but which I find insipid. How­ever, their huge size makes them great for pro­cess­ing. A good dose of com­post around the tree ear­lier in the year is re­ally pay­ing off as the fruit are huge enough to eat with a dessert­spoon and plen­ti­ful enough to feed friends and ex­tended fam­ily.

I don’t sub­scribe to the the­ory that fei­joas should be pruned to al­low birds to fly through the canopy. Fei­joas have a lot of other pol­li­na­tors and do just fine left alone. They flower and fruit at the base of new growth, so if you wish to prune or hedge them, prune one side each year so the other side still pro­duces. I just take enough branches off the bot­tom to al­low easy col­lec­tion of the fruit.

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