Passionfruit: a taste of summer
Make the most of passionfruit season with these summery recipes.
From the jungles of Brazil to back gardens all over New Zealand, the joy of fresh in-season passionfruit knows no bounds.
Passionfruit are not necessarily the most attractive-looking pieces of produce, at least on the outside. When ripe, they're dimpled with deep purple-brown skin and almost look rotten. The inside of a passionfruit, however, is like a spoonful of sunshine.
Passionfruit were first discovered around 1700 in the jungles of Brazil by a Jesuit priest. They were named the "Passion of Christ" because the plant’s flower resembled religious symbols.
Passionfruit are not actually picked from the vine. Instead, the fruit falls to the ground when ready for harvesting. You will know it is ripe because it will look wrinkly on the outside and have a strong smell. If you find some underripe passions in the produce section, you can ripen them at room temperature and then store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Due to its high acidity, passionfruit holds up extraordinarily well in the freezer, so if you have a glut during passionfruit season, scoop out the flesh, freeze in ice cube trays, and then transfer to an airtight container. You can also make your own puree with fresh fruit by whirring the seeds and gel in a blender and then passing it through a strainer.
Finding your passion
Use passionfruit pulp or puree in drinks, sorbet or a granita. Passionfruit pairs beautifully with coconut, in place of citrus fruits, such as in a curd, and teams up delectably with white chocolate. Add a scoop of passionfruit to buttercream and either ice your favourite vanilla cake with it or sandwich it between two shortbread biscuits. Spoon fresh passionfruit pulp over really good quality vanilla icecream for a simply special treat.
Growing your passion
Passionfruit vines need full sun and to be sheltered from strong wind - against a fence in a relatively protected part of your garden can be a great choice. Plant in light, well-draining soil; stir through compost and sand to improve drainage. Plant in spring, when the days have warmed up enough so there is no frost at night. Water often as passionfruit have shallow root systems, but don't water the leaves, just the roots as they are very prone to fungus. If you are unlucky enough to see signs of discolouration or spotting on fruit and leaves, spray your vine with a copper spray as soon as possible. Feed your vine often using a slow release citrus fertiliser and a liquid fertiliser during fruiting. Prune often after planting, pinching off side shoots to encourage the vine to grow up before it grows out. If you treat it right, your passionfruit vine could bear fruit in as little as 8 months.
Passionfruit syrup two ways
World-renowned chef, Peter Gordon, shares his two favourite ways to make delicious passionfruit syrup, perfect for drizzling on absolutely everything.
Simmer a cup of pulp with to a cup of caster sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit itself) and cup water. Dissolve two teaspoons of cornflour in 2 tablespoons of cold water and then mix in some of the hot pulp. Return to the pan and slowly heat up, making sure the cornflour doesn't form a leaden lump, and simmer for a minute stirring constantly. This will keep in the fridge for a week in a sealed jar or tub.
Cook a cup of pulp with half a cup of water and a cup of caster sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Taste for sourness - adding lime juice if needed, then pass through a fine sieve while still hot. It will be seedless but delicious, and will keep for a week in the fridge.