Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My little choko vines are still alive and curling their little tendrils around the fence. They aren’t growing very fast but I guess they will pick up speed as they go along.

As it turns out, chokos are very versatile and I really wonder why they aren’t more popular and why more people don’t grow them. I know they won’t grow everywhere but they still grow a lot of places. My mum used to grow them in Sydney along the fence when we were young but when we moved to the Goulburn area it was too cold and she could no longer grow them.

According to Isabell Shipard in her book, How Can I Be Prepared With Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods, chokos are related to cucumbers, pumpkin and gourds. They like to climb and are heavy bearers of fruit, I have read somewhere that not only is there the common green variety but a white one too, though I haven’t confirmed that.

Chokos can be eaten raw, steamed, stuffed, pickled, fried and made into tarts, sauces, pies, puddings and I believe chutneys. Also according to Isabell Shipard, you can eat the young shoots, tendrils and leaves, putting them into a stirfry sounds nice, and also the roots are edible.

Choko Pickles

½ kg onions ½ kg chokos
2 tbs. salt 1 litre vinegar
½ cup sugar 1 tbs. turmeric
1 tsp. mustard powder 2 tsp. curry powder

Peel and cut up onions and chokos sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for twelve hours.

Drain and place in pan and add remaining ingredients and cook until veges are soft. Mix in ½ cup flour to a thick paste with a little vinegar and add to pot to thicken the pickles.

Bottle and when cold screw on the lids.

Thank you Isabell Shipard, I am looking forward to making this when I have chokos.

I did read in another book that if you let chokos grow over lantana it would kill it, just smother it. We have lantana growing down by our seasonal creek so I might also give that a go, though I wonder if the wildlife will eat it before it gets established. I guess the only way to know is to give it a try.

Jackie French says that chokos take almost no work, YAY, that so that is one reason this plant is for me, I want all benefits of a vege garden but am a bit lazy so I love this bit about chokos. In frost free areas they will grow all year (guess this is why mum can’t grow them) and it is best to eat them when they are young not ginormous (is that a word? Kids say it so it must be).

So I am looking forward to all the ways I can cook chokos, steamed, stirfried, roasted, chutneyed and pickled. With so many things you can do with chokos and the fact that they are easy to grow, it REALLY is a wonder they have gone out of fashion. Maybe I should go on a crusade to bring back the choko into people’s backyards, I know a lot of gardeners out there and they don’t grow chokos, I think I might start talking to them about the choko :p

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