Foraging for chokos

There are many interpretations of the word ‘forgaging’. Generally I believe it means rummaging and searching for wild food. In the words of Costa off the television it’s just another form of gardening.
But for me it satisfies some sort of primal urge. And I satisfied the urge at the farm yesterday when I found a hidden cache of chokos beneath these leaves.

the choko bed

As well as rambling across the ground this huge choko plant was growing up and over our Windy Loo (truly, that is the correct name of this Australian icon – more of that on another post)

chokos growing behind the windy loo

chokos growing over the windy loo

I needed a Tarzan to harvest this choko which was tantalising behind my reach.  Either I persuade someone to risk life and limb to get it – or we can wait until it drops.
The one that got away

The one that got away

I collected my harvest in a basket. I think they are a beautiful vegetable. I have written about chokos before, they are treated as a very humble vegetable here in Queensland as they grow so prolifically, almost like weeds, and some would say they are tasteless but I think they have a very delicate taste when steamed.

The wonderful, and I think interesting, thing about chokos is the fact that they take on the flavours of whatever they are cooked with. I am told that after the war when some foods were at a premium the choko was mixed with pears (in tins) and people couldn’t tell the difference.

But with such an abundance you need to be a bit more adventurous and use them in other ways. So today I’ll be making some choko pickles. Photographs to follow tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is the result of my labours so far.

results of my labours

choko harvest

Happy gardening.

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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martha
    May 30, 2013 @ 07:03:42

    Have never heard of or seen these before! They look really interesting

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 30, 2013 @ 11:45:28

      Martha, chokos were quite new to me too when I emigrated to Brisbane from the UK. I was introduced to them by a neighbour who had a vine growing on our boundary fence. I think their versatility makes them so interesting. I have just finished bottling 12 jars of choko pickle a few minutes ago. I’ll label and photograph them for the blog. And I have three left which I will add to cooking apples to make a simple dessert of stewed ‘fruit’ and freeze some of it. So there you have it, a pickle and a dessert from the same veggie, and they grow so prolifically in our climate that people just give them away by the bucketful.

      Reply

  2. Maria
    May 30, 2013 @ 07:24:34

    What a healthy choko plant! Yes I have memories of my mum using chokos to make ‘mock pears’ as she called it, and also she would use them to make ‘stewed apples’ type of dessert. As an adult, my favourite way to use chokos is in curries.
    Are the ones in your photo a cream colour or is it just the colour resolution settings on this iPad?

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 30, 2013 @ 11:51:39

      Hi Maria. It is a healthy vine, just growing like Topsy as they say. I do think that chokos are under-valued here in Queensland. As I just commented to Martha, I have spent the morning making 12 jars of choko pickle and I’ll turn some into stewed apples for dessert. I have a couple of nice big Granny Smith’s which will go nicely with the choko. Now that you have mentioned it I will certainly have a go at choko in a curry too. That’s the marvellous thing about this vegetable, you can do almost anything with it. I think I’ll have to write a book about it. ha ha.

      Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 30, 2013 @ 11:52:57

      Maria I missed your last question. The chokos on that vine are a cream colour. You don’t need to adjust the settings on your iPad !!

      Reply

  3. ryllpaul
    May 30, 2013 @ 07:51:24

    I used to make a devine choko soup, would be perfect for this weather:)

    Reply

  4. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy
    May 30, 2013 @ 10:34:56

    I learned something new today – ive never seen anything like those before.

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 30, 2013 @ 11:58:51

      Heidi I hadn’t seen anything like this myself until I emigrated to Australia. I love the look and the feel of them, I got quite excited yesterday when I realised that underneath all those leaves there was a whole heap of chokos hiding away and just waiting for me to gather them up.

      Reply

  5. MrsYub
    May 30, 2013 @ 11:46:33

    I have never thought to try choko’s, though I love them. You have inspired me!

    Reply

  6. narf77
    May 30, 2013 @ 13:07:26

    I don’t think that they are purely for warmer climates Jean, I remember mum had a choko vine growing over our toilet when we lived on a 100 acre farm in the South West Corner of Western Australia and the weather conditions are quite similar to Victorian weather there. She used chokos as “fillers” to take up the slack with all kinds of things. I know that she used them to bulk out jams and preserves like she did with jam melons and she also used to cut them up and use them in soups and stews. Much more than that I can’t remember but I DO remember her “starting a choko off” for planting much like people do with avocados with toothpicks in them suspending them over water. I see them occasionally in the grocery shop and tend to ignore them. Maybe it’s time to get over my chocko phobia and grow one over our shed? Another food source that grows easily and yields quality food as you can eat the fruit, the root, the stems AND the leaves…now THAT is what I call a vegetable! 🙂 Cheers for reminding me of the value of ALL food and how diverse we should be making our food forests…the more the merrier 🙂

    Reply

  7. rabidlittlehippy
    May 30, 2013 @ 20:45:31

    My favourite vegetable! I used to adore chokos, steamed and sprinkled with a little salt. I believe they’re frost tender and won’t ripen before the frosts hit us here in Ballan (cool climate 500m asl) but we grew them in Macleod over a huge piece of reo mesh dad had stuck upright. It grew over the reo mesh, the woodshed, the chook pen and kept going. The mesh alone was 3-4m high and 6-7m long, give or take. We used to pick them and sell them up and down the street to earn a few bucks. Must try growing one here come spring. I’m sure I can protect it from late frosts and coddle it through. 🙂 Never seen the cream ones though, only the monster big green ones.

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 31, 2013 @ 09:40:02

      Good to meet another choko lover. I didn’t realise that the cream ones growing at the farm were a little unusual but checking choko images on Google I realise that the big green ones are more common. I know what you mean about these vines growing all over sheds. That’s a good place to plant them in my opinion as they have something to cling to, and ‘pretty up’ a shed!

      Reply

  8. Maria
    May 31, 2013 @ 10:59:08

    Yes Jean, I’ve also never seen cream coloured chokos before. We’ll all be coming over to take cuttings! lol (I’m sure we could grow a vine from a cutting )

    Reply

  9. cathyandchucky
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 09:41:34

    Love your pictures of the chokos over the Thunderbox Jean! I’ve always thought that as the choko is quite tasteless on it’s own that it marries well with most everything and can take on the flavour of whatever you want of it. It has great texture and is often found in chinese cooking/dishes for that textural quality. I, too, have never seen a white choko, only the bright green ones.

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Jun 03, 2013 @ 10:16:42

      Cathy, I didn’t realise until recently that white choko was unusual. Having them grow over the thunderbox is the Australian way, gives the dunny more than one use and keeps it cool when you are in there in the summer. In the past week I’ve been trying to start a movement (nothing to do with the thunderbox!) to bring back the choko and to that end have been collecting old tried and tested recipes. I’m a new Australian but I have begun to realise after talking to people that their Nan’s all used this humble vegetable. I hope I have pressed a few folks ‘nostalgia button’ so that they revive these old recipes and give the choko a come-back. Time to get them climbing over the back fence, or the old dunny, again.

      Reply

      • cathyandchucky
        Jun 04, 2013 @ 10:26:14

        Hahaha I grew up remembering having Honeysuckle growing over our farm thunderbox. It was always grown over ours to help ward off the awful smells. I also remember pouring a dash of Phenol down the hole to kill any germs as well. Phenol and Honeysuckle, memories of my childhood. I don’t recall chokos growing over our toilet but I do remember them growing over a trellis near the back door of one of our many houses lived in as children.

  10. Tara
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:08:42

    Hi
    I am interested in growing the white choko. If any one has 2 fruits, I am willing to pay postage to Sydney. Email tpalan@hotmail.com

    Reply

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