24 August 2013

A Kiwi in kiwifruit country

It's Saturday. I am slowly recovering from a deficit of spoons this week - it was an extremely busy week and by the time I got to the end of Thursday I was in deficit. Friday was tough: by the time I left for work I was scared I was going to fall asleep in the car on the way over to work....

However, today was better. A good sleep and a relaxing time with the family has helped a lot. We went through to Te Puke (about half an hour from here) and did the kiwifruit tour at Kiwi360, which was fascinating. Very interesting to look around a working kiwifruit orchard. I didn't realise that a new kiwifruit vine grows at up to 15cm every day! They have had to graft completely new golden kiwifruit varietals to help combat the PSA bacteria - hopefully they take. The other really amazing thing was that last season they harvested over 105 million trays of kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty. Wow!!

I was also interested to hear that they harvest once a year but export all year round. The way they manage that is by measuring the brix value of the fruit - when it gets to a certain point they harvest, then the pack the fruit and store it under partial vacuum in coolstores, which holds the ripening process in limbo until they are warmed up again. The coolstore is only opened when it is ready to be shipped. This way they can export year-round. Very clever.

The tour also went past fruit trees of just about everything you could name - part of the tour path was an experimental area to find out what would grow in Te Puke, and the answer is everything! We saw oranges, lemons, lemonade (looks a bit like a lemon but really sweet), tangelos, plums, cherries, apricots, persimmons, white mulberry, nashi, ugli, lots of different apples, and a whole lot of others I can't remember. The tour guide kept stopping the little cart every few metres and giving us something else to try.... The lemonades were particularly lovely.

The tour ended with kiwifruit tasting, kiwifruit juice, kiwifruit jam (not as good as my kiwifruit jam, I have to say), kiwifruit wine, kiwifruit liqueur - you name it, we tried it. And some local manuka-rewarewa honey too, which was particularly good.

I wasn't originally planning to go, but I'm glad I did. It was really interesting and it was a lovely relaxing day with my two favourite people. We stopped at one of those ubiquitious roadside fruit vendors just out of Te Puke and got some golden kiwifruit (biggest I've ever seen too!) tamarillos (yum), and fresh fruit icecreams. And now it's Saturday night, cat snoozing by the fire, and the Bledisloe Cup test tonight. Delayed coverage so not checking Facebook or Stuff to make sure I don't find out who wins! Go the mighty All Blacks!

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