Thursday, August 11, 2011

Passionate Passionfruit!

Let me start out by saying that I am absolutely NOT an expert on Passion Flowers. But with the help of my good friend, Google, I'm starting to learn a bit!

This is a Passion Flower. It's a DAMN pretty flower!

More specifically, I believe it is Passiflora caerulea. It's a HUGE MONSTER VINE growing in my neighbor's yard and, given it's druthers, it would eat-up our yard as well!

And it produces fruit in late-July/early August:


Now I've heard tell that Passionfruit can be kind of bland. I believe the word used to describe the flavor was "insipid!" In fact, I picked a couple last year and sampled them. And I concur, they are rather bland. The fruit has an orangy-yellow skin (evidently pretty high in pectin), with red goozy innards covering lots of tiny seeds. Reminds me a little bit of pomegranate - in appearance, anyway.

Here are some Passionate Passionflower Pollinators:

*We* might find them bland, but the bees seem to love 'em!
Check out Tubby the Bumblebee on the top,
and underneath - to the left - is a little honeybee!

The bees are absolutely LOVING my Garden right now. They are ohhhhh soooo busy pollinating ALL of the fruit and veggie flowers. Our Pepper-Tree, out front, is hosting a honeybee hive right now. Hubbie called the exterminators out but I think they failed to eradicate the Queen 'cuz the hive is still there (and I'm not complaining)!!!

DH is deathly afraid of stinging insects (although, to be fair, he *is* allergic to bee-stings). He *hates* to set-foot back there. And he seems to be a bee/wasp magnet. He does a MOST amusing dance whenever one dive-bombs him! He can sprint across the yard and dive into the pool in RECORD TIME if he perceives he is being "attacked!" Yet I can wander back there, with bees swarming all around me - they're too damn busy pollinating to even care!

In fact, the above photo? That was taken in Macro Mode - my BARE HAND and Droid were mere INCHES away from the flower and :::GASP::: bees! (and no, I didn't get stung!)

But I digress....

The Passionflower vine really *is* taking over. This shot was taken w/zoom. This is the rooftop of my greenhouse!

Did I say these flowers are gorgeous???

And a shot from the front of my greenhouse:

They are threatening to engulf it
(Yes, there will be some serious "chopping back" this winter!)

So anyway... The fruits, while "insipid" are indeed edible. So I decided to pick a few today...

Half-a-bucket's worth

Then I consulted Google (No surprise there, right?!), but found that there was a dearth of information on how to actually cook and/or otherwise utilize the fruit (Okay, now *that's* a surprise)!!!

I did find a recipe (written in gm's/ml's etc) for Banana Passionfruit (actually, I think it was Ilikoi - which is a Hawaiian relative) Jam. And the recipe doesn't really specify the proper quantity of fruit (in terms of WEIGHT). Different varieties are different sizes. I think Ilikoi is a lot bigger than these bad boys. And even after I did all the ML-->OZ conversions, the entire recipe was only gonna yield something like one jar of jam.

Annnd given that each of these fruits only yields about a teaspoon of innards, wellllll, I think I'm gonna be "winging it!"

What little info I have been able to glean from the 'net has led me to believe that the fruit will get sweeter if it's allowed to ripen to the point where the skins are getting wrinkly, so I'm gonna let 'em set for a few days.

In the meantime, I did open up one of the wrinklier fruits to taste it.

"Yep. Still bland!"

Then I added a little sugar and tried it again.

"Hmmm. Too sweet."

Then I added a couple drops of lime juice to that and *that* turned out to be rather tasty! So I *might* be heading in the right direction.

Nevertheless, I don't think my half-a-bucket of Passionfruit is gonna yield enough jam to make it worth the effort. I did call my neighbor this afternoon (since the vine *is* theirs!).

"Do you use your Passionfruits for anything?"

"No. The kids just pull them off the plant and throw them at each other. Why? You want 'em?"

"Yeah - if you don't mind."

"Come on over!"

I figured - given the quantity I picked from our side of the fence - that I would hit the mother lode. Uhh, no such luck! Oh, well!

So I think it's gonna end up being *mostly* Banana Jam with a hint of Passionfruit. We'll see!

I'll attempt to "document" the endeavor whenever I get around to attempting it! (in the next day or two)

In other news: The raised beds continue to grow like mad...

Poor-planning on my part. I *thought* I left enough room between and behind the beds to gain access to the plants in the back.
Uhhh, NOTTT!

Unripe Black Zebra Tomato
I think they are THE coolest-looking tomatoes EVER!

Yellow Peaches are beginning to ripen...

With more on the way....

It probably won't be *as* bad as the plums - in terms of quantity - but there definitely will be PLENTY of peaches!

The Yellow Peaches are from Hubbie's Tree. No, we really don't claim "ownership" of the fruit trees, but this tree was here before I moved in. DH, bless his heart, figured that - when he moved into his Very Own House - he should have fruit trees, right? So he paid someone to dig some holes and plant a couple of trees (this peach tree, and a pear tree that perished years ago). Now Hubbie is not a Gardener (he does Mow 'n Blow - that's the extent of his "Gardening Knowledge!"). He figured you plant a fruit tree and you harvest fruit. Period!

This poor tree had NEVER been pruned. The root-stock sprouted and attempted to take over. It became this HUGE sprawling tree (we're talking, like, 15' wide and I don't even remember how tall!).

My first spring here, I saw all the fruit-babies starting to develop, in hyper-abundance, and I started clipping some of them off, right? (Now this was back in the "dating days" - long before we'd ever have "lively discussions"). Well, hubbie (b/f at the time) was aghast that I was killing the baby peaches and begged me to stop - which I did...

Later that year, the top half of the main trunk became so overladen with fruit that it split and the top came toppling down! (I think that may have been one of the first "Told-ya So's" that we exchanged!). The very next winter it got it's first-ever pruning (and it was a SEVERE pruning - but, by then, DH knew to "stand back" and let me do my thing!). Honestly, I thought the tree was a Goner (which is why I planted the white peach tree). Amazingly, it has survived and is hanging in there, quite nicely! Although it is still *very* sprawling (about half of the fruits are at knee-height!). And every winter I have to hack-back the root-stock ruthlessly!

Okay... I think that's *more* than enough blathering for one post... Look forward to Jamming Adventures in the days to come!

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