Tuesday, November 3, 2009

with a passion

Passion fruit is a plant cultivated commercially in frost-free areas for its fruit. It is native to South America and widely grown in, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Indonesia, California, Florida, Hawaii, Australia, East Africa, Israel and South Africa.

And now is the time to enjoy them here in Southern California. They will be in season for about another 3 weeks, according to my farmers’ market vendor. Passion fruit is not widely available in stores, so most of the fruit comes from backyard gardens or wild groves. It can be found, however, in farmers' markets throughout my area.

The passion fruit is round to oval, yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The edible part of a passion fruit lies under a leathery, dark purple, bitter-tasting skin.

Within is a cavity more or less filled with an aromatic mass of double walled, membranous sacs containing orange-colored, pulpy juice and as many as 250 small, hard, dark brown or black, pitted seeds. The unique flavor is appealing, musky, guava-like and sweet/tart to tart.

The fruit can be grown to eat or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. Its intense, tropical-flavored orange pulp and seeds are excellent in fruit desserts, sorbets, beverages, jams and sauces.

Choose the largest passion fruit available. They're usually sold by the piece. Look for one that's partially deflated or creased to be sure it's ripe before eating. Cut the passion fruit in half with a sharp knife. Scrape out the pulp with a spoon. Press through a fine sieve to remove the tiny seeds if desired. You'll get about 1 tbsp. pulp from one of the egg-shaped, 2-inch-long passion fruit.

So yes, I bought a bag full and they are still on the kitchen counter waiting for inspiration to hit me. 

Until tomorrow.


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