Chokos and the ‘look-alike’ noxious Moth Plant pest – which have you got?

Chokos and the ‘look-alike’ noxious Moth Plant pest – which have you got?

It’s choko time again! A-n-d the pest moth plant is fruiting too. As the seeds of moth plant are apparently poisonous, please know a real choko from the poisonous alternative.

So how to tell the delicious choko from the look-alike noxious moth plant?!

Which is choko and which is Moth Plant?

 

The fruit look ‘sorta similar’ from the outside so people can easily confuse the two. Yet the leaves, flowers and seeds are different. 

Here’s how:

The Leaves

Choko

20180428_155638

Choko leaves are similar to grape vine leaves, whereas Moth Plant leaves are different.

Moth Plant:

20180427_162852
Moth Plant leaves and fruit

The Fruits

Choko fruit cut in half. One seed in the middle of the fruit.

 

Moth Plant fruit cut in half – showing the many, many seeds in a clump in the center.

20180427_163028 - Copy

See also the flesh is different – harder, and has a milky sap which can be really irritating so best to not touch it at all [if you must pick this plant, use gloves].

 

The Seeds

The single seed of the choko sprouts a little root and shoot from the fruit to grow one new plant.

20160522_171117

Whereas the Moth Plant fruit produces millions of fluffy seeds as it splits the old, shriveled fruit [so its also called ‘kapok plant’] to fly on the wind far and wide.

20180427_101349 - Copy

 

The flowers

Chokos have 2 types of flowers – the little white-petaled  male ones grow in a long group. The female one [which  forms the fruit we eat] is a single one and hangs from a stalk on the small end of the fruit.

 

Moth Plant flowers look very different:

20180427_101336 - Copy

Moth plant fruit hangs from a stalk on the fat end of the fruit.

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article on Moth Plant [also known as Kapok plant, Common moth vine, Cruel vine, and White bladder] for more info.  Also, here’s a Weed Busters article.

 

I hope this post makes clear the difference between the delicious, edible choko and the noxious, pest Moth Plant.

 

For more about the delicious chokos:

See the post for how we grow the plants and also for recipes using the fruits too.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chokos and the ‘look-alike’ Moth Plant pest – which have you got?

Chokos and the ‘look-alike’ Moth Plant pest – which have you got?

It’s choko time again! A-n-d the pest moth plant is fruiting too. As the seeds of moth plant are apparently poisonous, please know a real choko from the poisonous alternative.

 

So how to tell the delicious from the noxious?!

Which is choko and which is Moth Plant?

 

The fruit look ‘sorta similar’ from the outside so people can easily confuse the two. Yet the leaves, flowers and seeds are different. 

Here’s how:

The Leaves

Choko

 

20180428_155638

Choko leaves are similar to grape vine leaves, whereas Moth Plant leaves are different.

Moth Plant:

20180427_162852
Moth Plant leaves and fruit

The Fruits

Here are piks of a choko fruit cut in half. One seed in the middle of the fruit.

 

Here’s a pik of a Moth Plant fruit cut in half – showing the many, many seeds in the center.

20180427_163028 - Copy

See also the flesh is different – harder, and has a milky sap which can be really irritating so best to not touch it at all [if you must pick this plant, use gloves].

 

The Seeds

The single seed of the choko sprouts a little root and shoot from the fruit.

20160522_171117

Whereas the Moth Plant splits the old, shriveled fruit and releases millions of fluffy seeds [so its also called ‘kapok plant’] to fly on the wind far and wide.

20180427_101349 - Copy

 

The flowers

Chokos have 2 types of flowers – the little white-petaled  male ones grow in a long group. The female one [which  forms the fruit we eat] is a single one.

 

Moth Plant flowers look very different:

20180427_101336 - Copy

 

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article on Moth Plant [also known as Kapok plant, Common moth vine, Cruel vine, and White bladder] for more info.  Also, here’s a Weed Busters article.

 

I hope this post makes clear the difference between the delicious, edible choko and the noxious, pest Moth Plant.

 

For more about the delicious chokos:

 

 

See the post for how we grow the plants and also for recipes using the fruits too.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

20160521_100028Woo hoo! It’s choko time again!

Here’s a link to a post about the delicious chokos available now.

The small ones are the ones we eat [like those lower left in the photo showing many chokos of different sizes].

Steam a few minutes for the tiny ones whole or sliced medium-sized ones. Sweet and delicious when they are young.

Large chokos develop a tough skin and are flavorless compared with the tiny ones. We spice large ones to make them worth eating. They are kept in a cold place until we have no more small ones on the plant. Then we use the large ones [unless we’ve given them away].

20160521_103710

Large chokos are usually the ones available in shops. If you see small ones, choose them for flavor.

Chokos grow on a rampant vine. Our’s covers the back fence and a tree. It will die back as cold winter weather and frosts arrive.

choko vine over cherry guava tree

The roots remain in the ground to re-sprout next spring. Covering the roots with mulch for protection in winter helps this short-lived perennial plant last longer.

Where could you put such an abundant provider of sweet, buttery new chokos to enjoy next autumn?

See the post for how we grow the plants and also for recipes using the fruits too.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

Chokos are in season (late autumn) in Auckland!

20160521_100028Chokos – a prolific, fence-covering vine, masses of fruit – what DO we do with them?!

From tiny ones, new-formed to great big ones, larger than my hand – here’s our take on making best use of this resource. Now that zucchinis are ending their season growing in the open garden, small chokos make a great replacement.

The small ones are delicious and sweet – just thumb-sized. Steam a few minutes.

Large chokos develop a tough skin and are flavorless compared with the tiny ones. We spice large ones to make them worth eating. Big ones are kept in a cold place until we have no more small ones on the plant. Then we use the large ones [unless we’ve given them away].

Large chokos are usually the ones available in shops. If you see small ones, choose them for flavor.

The choko seed will sprout from the large end of a choko which is as big as your hand and grow into a whole new plant. It first grows a new shoot and begins to grow small rootlets.

20160522_171032It can be now planted into a garden bed in a frost-free zone, or into a pot, large end down, of good potting mix [or at least the growing rootlets covered with soil for protection]. Plant out into garden on a trellis or other support after all frosts and freezing weather has passed in spring.20160522_171117

Chokos grow on a rampant vine. Our’s covers the back fence and a tree. It will die back as cold winter weather and frosts arrive.

The roots remain in the ground to re-sprout next spring. Covering the roots with mulch for protection in winter helps this short-lived perennial plant last longer.

We replant a new one each year or so.

Here’s a post about the wonderfulness of chokos I wrote some time ago – it seems a good time to re-visit it now we have heaps of chokos available! Enjoy now as the season is quite short – a few months at most. Find the info here.

 

Recipes for delightful chokos: see post here

There are so many ways chokos can be used! Some of our favorite recipes for delightful chokos are found here

Wonderful additions to stews, casseroles, curries, soups, pickles.

Or just enjoy the tiny new ones steamed – sweet – a real treat in such a short season, and unavailable in most shops so grow your own treats.

Enjoy!

Build a lettuce wrap

Build a lettuce wrap

How to build a ‘Heather’s Lettuce Wrap’ – delicious!!!

Start by assembling your favorite salad foods. Here, I use cheese, olives, gherkins, cucumber, tomato, sprouts, wild greens. Find your favorite sticky stuff to smooth onto each lettuce leaf to hold the rest on.

Create your unique, favorite wrap with just what you like. Mine is held on here with smooth peanut butter – works well!

Mayo works well too. Or other nut butters, or hummus, or other dips. [Lettuce wrap around a dip by itself is pretty delicious too – and is very quick. Depends on how hungry I am!]

I like the sweetness of peanut butter with the tangy wild greens, pickled gherkins and salty olives.

Some of us prefer to replace the lettuce leaf wrap with bread.

The greens here include endive, plantain, chickweed, rocket, parsley, miners lettuce, Herb Robert.

 

 

Come for another ramble in this magical Spring garden

Come for another ramble in this magical Spring garden

The gifts of Spring – new growth!

 

Rhubarb gives abundant stems and leaves at this season. Well-fed growing beside the compost bin!

 

Here the lemon balm is growing lovely new leaves. Herb Robert, with its delicate, frilly, divided leaves is a welcome addition to our salads too. It likes cooler weather so we’ll make the most of it now.

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Lemon balm and Herb Robert

 

Mizuna is a lovely greens when it is young and tender. Then it quickly bolts to flower and seed as the weather warms up. The old leaves become bitter so we leave them to feed the flowers and seeds for the next generation.

 

20160910_160143
Mizuna flowers

So many tiny flowers combine on each stem. The bees love them so we leave them until they finish flowering. Then we collect the seed heads to sprinkle around the garden. They grow quickly so we’ll have new greens again soon!

 

Hey, the yacons are finally poking through the mulch too! They have been dormant as tubers under the ground over winter – invisible from above.

20160910_161643
Yacons sprouting new growth from the tubers below ground
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Yacon tubers to re-grow next seasons crop

Knobbly yacon tubers starting to sprout from the ‘eyes’ and ready to plant.

The knobbly tuberous root grows new stalks like sunflowers [with smaller flower heads though], up to 2 m tall.

Then they form different storage tubers which are smooth, rounded, without eyes and grow over summer/autumn so we harvest them early winter here. They are crunchy, a little sweet and crisp like an apple. Can be eaten raw [slices work well] or slice and stir-fry is how we use them most.

 

The choko vine is also sprouting new shoots and leaves.

20160910_161735
Choko vines starting to re-grow

We gave it a trellis and it climbs up into the trees [which are kept about 2 m tall] so we can still reach the fruit when they grow in autumn. Absolutely delicious when they are tiny – about thumb-size – buttery, sweet and melt-in-your-mouth. Only thing is, the vine can be rampant and take over the yard so needs training!

Breakfast a la our garden – even in winter!

 

In winter we really enjoy a warm, sustaining porridge containing lots more than just oats!

Here is our Winter Porridge Extraordinaire recipe:

Heather’s way [and below I have given approximate measured amounts if you prefer that way of cooking]

In a medium-sized saucepan, soak overnight

  • about a handful rolled oats
  • some chia seeds
  • some linseed [whole]
  • some ground LSA [we grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – about the ratio 4:2:1]
  • 3-4x amount of water [filtered preferably]
  • if you have extra yogurt, add a dollop too – the acidic environment it creates means more unlocking of nutrients from the oats.

[Or

Approximate measurements:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tblspn chia seeds
  • 1 tblespn linseed [whole]
  • 2 tblspns ground LSA [we grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – about the ratio 4:2:1]
  • 1 1/2 cups water [filtered preferably]
  • if you have extra yogurt, add a tblspn too – the acidic environment it creates means more unlocking of nutrients from the oats.]

In the morning, place the saucepan on the stove and bring to boil gently. I stir with a flat-bottomed wooden paddle/spoon to keep it from sticking. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat right down to extra-low and simmer gently until cooked.

Add 1-2 tblspns tahini [ground sesame seeds] which will thicken the mix and give it a creamy consistency. Add more water if it is too thick. Stir.

Turn off the heat and leave sit for a few minutes if you have time – the flavors blend and mellow. Re-assess whether it needs more water to thin it or more tahini to thicken it. Adjust as required to be just how you like it.

Some people like adding a sweetener – stewed fruit works for us – apple, peaches, nectarines, apricots are so sweet. Or add some dried fruit to the dry oats and soak over night [sultanas, raisins, currants, dates, etc all give a different flavor and provide variety]

Other additions we sometimes include:

  • cinnamon
  • cardamon

 

So, to create a winter breakfast energy boost:
Take

  • 1 apple – chopped [or other fresh fruit you like]
  • Stewed fruit [home grown and preserved plums here]
  • Yogurt  [or whatever you like instead – kefir/milk/coconut milk/almond milk/etc]
  • Add the cooked mixed grains of a delicious porridge.

Optional: serve with a mandarin and/or orange before or after [just because they are so delicious at the moment] and savor!

[PS: Some people like to start the meal with a small glass of water with juice of 1/2 small lemon in it. We like Meyer or Lemonade lemons as they are sweeter than many other lemons.]

[PPS: Apples, oranges and mandarins are from our trees. Orange is just starting. Mandarins nearly finished and so sweet. And amazingly we’re still picking apples from the tree! Crisp and sweet – a real joy]