It’s passion fruit time here in Santa Barbara.
We are so lucky to be able to grow these wonderfully exotic fruits relatively easily in Southern California.
Native to South America, particularly Southern Brazil and Argentina, passion fruit is without a doubt one of my favourite tropo fruits, running a close race with Mangosteen, which unfortunately we cannot grow here. Don’t ask me why. Anyway, let’s not dwell on the negative. I’m here to sing the praises of the passion fruit and celebrate all the goodness in these gorgeously scented little pods of tart delight.
Firstly, passion fruits are packed with vitamins A and C as well as iron, potassium, magnesium, niacin and riboflavin. But you probably knew that. What you might not know is they are also purported to have a mild calming/sedative effect due to high levels of the alkaloid “Harman” found in the flower. I’m making the assumption that if Harman’s in the flower it’s probably in the fruit too so I’m going to keep a bucket of them by my bed and have at it. I’ll keep you posted. Either at 2:49am or 8:30am. Fingers crossed.
Secondly, I can verify that passion fruit makes damn good martinis. Which, if you have more than 1 will definitely put you to sleep.
Yummy and not too sweet.
Passion Fruit is a vine and these vines grow quickly. Up to 20 ft in a year! And in my experience will begin to bear fruit the first season if you start with at least a 5 gallon plant. While the flowers are sparse in comparison to the fruit, they’re just amazing in their delicate intricacy.
Unfortunately they don’t last long on the vine and they’re even shorter lived when cut. Basically, don’t bother unless you want to perhaps float one or three in a shallow bowl in a powder room or entry hall for an evening. The vines themselves however, with their tightly coiled little Shirley Temple tendrils, are the complete opposite, lasting well over a week and make a wonderfully vibrant, slightly shiny/waxy green addition to any floral arrangement. I love the way they are strong enough to add structure without any stiffness.
This flower will probably be gone by tomorrow and the fruit is about to drop to the ground to be harvested.
Another great plus for passion fruit? I haven’t seen any pests getting into the fruit. The skin is quite tough so be very careful when cutting open.
These citron coloured passion fruit go by the name “Pasiflora Edulis Flavicarpa”. They tend to be much larger, almost double the size of the dark purple Granadilla variety “Passiflora Edulis Edulis” but are not as flavorful, nor do they have as intense a perfume. This was a photo I took in Sri Lanka. They have mangosteens there too. Sigh.
If you’re buying rather than growing passion fruit, DO opt for the slightly wrinkled fruits unless you like your passion extremely face puckering rather than lightly tart 😉 Make sure they are soft to the touch and feel a little heavy. At room temperature they will last just 2-3 days and up to one week refrigerated.
Needless to say they’re a divine ingredient in desserts, especially sorbets, pavlovas (Eaton Mess included) , panna cotta or just drizzled over ice-cream (or yogurt if you’re being good) Also a fantastic addition to smoothies and other fresh juice combinations.
Panna Cotta with fresh passion fruit topping.
We’re also freezing the pulp into cubes for later use and this week I’m going to try dehydrating the pulp to make passion fruit powder.
And then I’m going to design a car that runs on passion fruit 🙂
A very happy vine.
BIGGER. (a pic borrowed from my Instagram)
Passion fruit are happiest growing on a warm wall or fence in full sun. That being said, these vines were actually planted on the other side of this white plaster (you’ll have to take my word for it) wall in partial sun and quickly found their way over the top and down the other side to receive all-day rays.
DO keep their tendency to vigorously head south facing in mind if you are planting on a shared fence or wall. just sayin’ (especially if your neighbour is not friendly or has a dog!)
Also be prepared for a life expectancy of only 5-7 years max. The loss of just one vine will leave a major gaping space so I plan to plug in some newbies when the time comes. Much like preventative hair plugs. I don’t want to be performing bad comb-overs in the garden (I know what your visual flash on that probably is but let’s not even go there )
Eeek! The price of passion fruit in Selfridge’s London this month (a little over $5.00 EACH) Not even as nice as mine either. BTW, How about that Selfridge’s food floor?? In fact the entire store. Wouldn’t Harry Selfridge be absolutely gobsmacked if he could see it now. I’m consistently blown away by the scale of it all. They had Mangosteens too. #notobsessed though.
But seriously, why don’t we have food floors like Selfridge’s and Harrod’s and Fortnum & Mason, not to mention all the ones in Paris, in the United States?? We really need to up our game (Von’s-stop whistling and looking the other way, you know I mean you)
Hmmm…a good bottle of wine or one mangosteen… dining dilemmas
Of course one could also make passion fruit jelly and jam if they were so inclined.
* Passion Fruit Martinis
Equal parts; Vodka, Funkinpro passionfruit puree (there is no alcohol in this, just pure fruit puree) and Passau Passion Fruit juice liqueur. Shake well in ice filled martini shaker until frothy and quickly pour. Garnish with fresh slice of passion fruit if available.
Call me if you live in Montecito. 🙂
A big bowl of Liliquoi, as they are called in Hawaii, on our dining room table
A small bowl of unripened pods (and a Frangipani tree in bloom outside the window)
PS. How about the Men’s Final tennis match today??! Wow. Even though I was rooting for del Potro. I just love when the competitors are gracious and have such obvious admiration and affection for each other. It’s like the handshaking at the end of the hockey series. It just makes me happy 🙂
PPS. Still 12 more days of Summer left so let’s soak it up and not rush into anything!
(all pics mine except the Passau bottle screen grab)
*Both Passau and Funkinpro puree are available online. I have no affiliation with either company.