Kei apples, also known as Dovyalis caffra, are a type of fruit-bearing shrub native to southern Africa. They have thorny branches and glossy green leaves, and produce yellow-orange fruits that are sour and juicy. Kei apples are often grown as ornamental plants or hedges, but they can also be eaten fresh or made into jams, pies, or wines.
If you want to grow kei apples in your garden, here are some tips to help you:
Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Kei apples can tolerate drought and frost, but they prefer warm and sunny conditions. They can grow up to 6 meters (20 feet) tall and wide, so make sure they have enough space.
Water them regularly during the growing season. Kei apples need about 25 mm (1 inch) of water per week from spring to autumn. You can reduce watering in winter, but don’t let the soil dry out completely.
Fertilize them once a year in spring. Kei apples are not very demanding in terms of nutrients, but they can benefit from a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) applied at the rate of 50 g (1.8 oz) per square meter (10 square feet) of soil.
Prune them in late winter or early spring. Kei apples can be pruned to shape them, control their size, or remove dead or diseased branches. You can also thin out some of the fruits to improve their quality and size.
Harvest them when they are ripe. Kei apples ripen from late summer to early winter, depending on the climate. They are ready to pick when they turn from green to yellow-orange and soften slightly. You can store them in a cool and dry place for up to a month.
Kei apples are not only delicious, but also nutritious. They are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. They can help boost your immune system, prevent scurvy, and aid digestion. Enjoy them fresh or cooked, or use them to make jams, pies, wines, or vinegar.
If you have a surplus of kei apples, you can also use them to make delicious preserves, such as jams, jellies, chutneys, or wines. Here are some recipes you can try:
Wash and chop 6 kei apples. You don’t need to peel or core them.
In a large pot, combine the chopped kei apples, 2 Â½ cups of granulated sugar, 5 crushed cardamom pods, and the juice of 2 lemons. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Test the jam for doneness by placing a small amount on a cold plate. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s ready. If not, cook for a few more minutes and test again.
Optional: If you want a thicker jam, you can add 2 tablespoons of pectin powder and boil for another 5 minutes.
Remove the cardamom pods and ladle the jam into sterilized jars. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Enjoy your kei apple jam on toast, scones, or muffins.
Grate 2 kei apples and 1 fresh coconut. You should have about 2 cups of each.
In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of ghee and fry 1 tablespoon of chopped cashew nuts and 1 tablespoon of sultana raisins until golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, add the grated kei apples, grated coconut, and 200 grams of condensed milk. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. This may take about 20 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder and mix well.
Grease a baking tray with some ghee and spread the mixture evenly. Press down with a spatula or your fingers to smoothen the surface.
Sprinkle the fried cashew nuts and raisins on top and press lightly to stick them to the burfi. You can also garnish with some canned cherries if you like.
Let the burfi cool completely and cut into squares or diamonds.
Enjoy your kei apple burfi as a sweet treat or a festive gift.