Fruits that taste like chocolate? Yes please

It's time to celebrate Easter and once again, there is an offering of very sweet Easter eggs available in shops.

Right on cue, the fruits of the chocolate pudding tree are mature and ready to harvest - ready for Easter creations.

The chocolate pudding tree or black sapote, diospyros digyna, will grow to 7m, but if the centre growth is pruned early, it is unlikely to reach that hight. The black sapote is an evergreen tree, native to Central America, and is relatively pest-free.

Although it is a large spreading tree, it is deep rooted and is suitable for a large backyard, but not planted close to the house.

Seedling trees take five to six years to fruit and can be variable in fruit size and quality.

Australian Black Sapote or Chocolate Pudding Fruit.
Australian Black Sapote or Chocolate Pudding Fruit.

However, a number of cultivars are available: Mossman is a heavy producer with very large, round fruits; Maher fruits are large and flattened in shape with very few seeds; Superb is a North Queensland selection and is a prolific fruiter with good quality small fruits.

Fruiting of the black sapote tree extends from autumn through to spring. The fruits must be mature before harvest and that is indicated when the fruit's cap starts to lift.

At the same time, a slight colour change can be observed as the green colour lightens - this is the best time to harvest. If left to soften on the tree, insects and birds can damage the fruits. The hard, mature fruits will ripen soft in one or two days, left in a bowl in a cool place.

Try some Easter creations using the fruit of the black sapote tree. The luscious pulp of the fruit dries to a fruit leather in a dehydrator. The dried pulp can be cut and decorated into many shapes for Easter treats.

Add the pulp to cake batter and fill cupcake moulds. When baked, join two cup cakes together, on the flat side, with a frosting made from fresh pulp with powdered coconut sugar; this should make an egg shape. Apply the frosting to the eggs, then roll in dried coconut flakes. Use your imagination to decorate these eggs with fresh fruits.

If you can't grow a black sapote tree at your home, the fruits are available from local market stalls.

 

Black sapote by Yvonne Cunningham.
Black sapote by Yvonne Cunningham.

Black Sapote Easter eggs

• 1 cup of soft black sapote pulp

• 1 cup of coconut sugar, well blended

• 1 1/2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour

• 1/2 cup full cream milk

• 2 large free-range eggs

• 125g soft butter

• 1 tsp lime juice

Method:

1 Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until well blended.

2 Spoon mixture into cupcake pans and bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes.

3 Place cakes on a wire rack to cool.

4 To form the eggs: mix together 1 cup coconut sugar blended to powder, ½ cup black sapote pulp, 1 tsp heated lime juice.

5 Join two cupcakes together on the flat side with the icing mixture to form an egg shape.

6 Using a knife dipped in hot water, spread the icing mixture over the eggs.

7 Roll the coated egg in coconut flakes.

8 Decorate the egg with fresh or dried fruits.

 

Now is the time to grow curly parsley.
Now is the time to grow curly parsley.

Backyard Q&A

Q Why can't I grow curly parsley? - Rebecca Star, Innisfail

A Parsley is a winter crop in coastal northern Australia. The Italian or flat-leafed parsley is more tolerant of heat and high humidity and will grow through summer if planted in a sheltered position. Now the cooler weather is here, the conditions are perfect for growing curly parsley.

 

4 things to do this weekend

Check the leaves on ixora and croton plants for leaf-rolling caterpillars.

1. Look out for little leaf-wing butterflies laying eggs on strong shiny leaved plants like ixoras and crotons. When the eggs hatch, the emerging caterpillars roll the leaves into protective shelters. They produce sticky silk to seal their round leafy houses.

2. As the caterpillars grow, they eat the leaf, and if in large numbers on a plant, can cause temporary damage to the plant.

3. To protect the emerging butterfly, leave the leaf-cigar house alone.

4. If the caterpillar is damaging the plant, unroll the leaf and remove the caterpillar. Otherwise let the "house" remain; when the caterpillar leaves, a beneficial insect is likely to move in.



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