Northern Outlook : May 7th 2014
34 NORTHERN OUTLOOK, MAY 7, 2014 Give drying persimmons a try By VIRGIL EVETTS PICK AND DRY PERSIMMONS Persimmons are an abundant and pretty homegrown fruit. They ripen any time between now and late June, but they’re not the most exciting fruit to eat straight from the tree. Fully ripe, they’re little more than sickly sweet slime, and when firm, they’re like a sweet uncooked pumpkin. The Japanese know how to appreciate persimmons though, and have elevated the process of drying them to an art form. Dried persimmon (hoshigaki) are made by peeling hard, but fully coloured persimmons and hanging them on strings to dry in the cool autumn breeze. Once the fruit begin to droop and shrivel, they’re taken down every few days and massaged by hand. This helps develop a jelly-fudge texture and a flavour akin to the best fresh dates. Hoshigaki can be made here, but using a food dryer is a safer bet. Then, they can be kept on racks in a dry, airy spot and massaged for a moment every other day. This sounds completely over the top, but the results are killer. ■ This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine Get Growing from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For a free sample visit getgrowing.co.nz or to subscribe visit mags4gifts.co.nz or call 0800 MAGS4GIFTS. Astringent persimmons are best for hoshigaki. However, eversweet types like ‘Fuyu’ work too, although they don’t end up quite so soft. PLANT FRAGRANT FLOWERS With the exception of daphne, winter flowers don’t tend to broadcast their perfume very far, as the method for doing so requires heat. This makes for contained explosions of fragrance when you get up close and personal, and it’s not too late to plant for this kind of scent in the winter garden. My top pick for winter scent are stocks (Matthiola), with their rich perfume – a deep drag on a stem of stock feels like something illicit. You’d be hard-pressed to get flowers from seed now – at least, not before spring – but seedlings of all forms are easy to come by. For an even bigger hit of fragrance, plant night-scented stock. While the plants tend to be weedy and the flowers are unremarkable, on winter and spring evenings they pump out the most intense vanilla and jasmine perfume that’s quite unlike anything else in the winter garden – and nothing at all like other types of stock. As members of the greater cabbage clan, stocks are popular with slugs, snails, caterpillars and other pests. Mildew knocks them about in warm weather too, but they’ve usually served their purpose by then. Plant them in full sun and feed them sparingly. Perennial wallflowers (Erysimum) are a stock relative suitable for planting anywhere you’d grow lavender. In other CROSSWORD YOUR STARS TOP 10 THE TOP 10 1. Who had hits with the songs “I’ve Got To Get a Message to You” and “Don’t Forget to Remember”? 2. What was the first country to use paper money? 3. The Datsun car marque became what? 4. In batik, what is painted on to fabric along with dye? 5. Which is the odd one out - F, C, G, A, E, H, D, B? 6. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was a pivotal figure in 20th century history. What does the world know him as? 7. Susanna Hoffs fronted which band? 8. In which country was the Sharpville Massacre, where 69 demonstrators were killed and over 180 injured? 9. Which saint is on the Pope’s signet ring? 10. Where in New Zealand did Peter Snell set a world record for the mile on January 27, 1962? SWEETLY SCENTED: Stocks make for marvellous winter fragrance in the garden. words, they like full sun and flinty soil. Although not as tall or longlived as lavender, they flower almost perpetually, attract bees by the thousands, and smell sensational. Erysimum are best planted during the cool months, as this is when they put on most of their growth. They are available in lemon, cream, purple and orange, and grow to around 80cm high and spread out to 1m or more. They’re not fond of wet feet, but are conversely quite droughttolerant. Wallflowers are a rusticlooking, pretty cut flower, with a great vase life. SUDOKU NZ CROSSWORD 1. The Bee Gees, 2. China, 3. Nissan, 4. Wax, 5. H - the others are all musical notes, 6. Lenin, 7. The Bangles, 8. South Africa, 9. St Peter, 10. Wanganui.
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