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It’s Passionfruit Season

Earlier this week I was invited to a lunch to celebrate passionfruit season and the sensational varieties of passionfruit we have growing in this country.  I do love passionfruit and even though I can’t say I have much of a garden or even a green thumb, I do have a golden panama passionfruit vine that fruited for the first time this season.

The varieties growing in Australia

The varieties growing in Australia

And it did so all by itself without any interference from me.  I actually had almost forgotten I’d planted it as it had become disguised by another vine growing on the same fence, causing me to think it had disappeared altogether.  Then after we returned home from a family holiday in late January, I was stunned to see passionfruit hanging from the fence.

Entry to The Butler

Entry to The Butler

Tina McPherson owns a passionfruit farm in Bundaberg in Queensland.  She was the guest speaker at the lunch and she said when passionfruit are ripe they fall from the vines and you collect them from the ground.  I can confirm this is true as that is how we knew our passionfruit were ready to eat.

Welcome fire

Welcome fire


Tina’s passionfruit farm is 40 hectares.  The vines grow in long neat rows very much like a vineyard.  Grass is planted under and between the vines so that as the passionfruit fall, they have a cushioned landing and are easy to collect.

Pretty table setting

Pretty table setting

On Tina’s farm she also grows strawberries.  She said strawberries are a lot more predictable as from the day you see a flower, you know 21 days later you’ll have a berry ready to pick.  Passionfruit however, operate with no such structure and from the moment you see the very pretty flowers, there will be quite a variety of harvest dates.  It was exactly this way with my vine with me thinking I had an imminent harvest only to discover the passionfruit will only drop from the vine one at a time and only when they are good and ready.

Gorgeous table setting

Gorgeous table setting

I had a chat to Tina to let her know I am also a passionfruit grower (of sorts) but did confess to having just the one vine.  Tina was thrilled with this news and told me one vine is absolutely perfect as they prefer going solo to having company.  She also said they do very well just left completely alone which is probably why my vine has been such a success.  When it comes to passionfruit, neglect equals success.

Bar

Bar

The lunch was held at The Butler, a restaurant in Potts Point with Executive Chef, James Privett, (who I can confirm is very good looking), designing a special menu for the occasion.  The Butler has a lovely entrance with a welcoming fireplace and then after walking through the bar, there is a staircase taking you down to the seating area.  There is plenty of indoor seating but also a lovely enclosed outdoor seating area with overhead heaters keeping us warm on what was, Sydney’s coldest winter’s day in 17 years.

Dining area of The Butler

Dining area of The Butler

The tables had been beautifully set with gorgeous floral arrangements in very pretty hues and there were even freshly cut passionfruit forming part of the arrangement.  I sat staring at the arrangements wondering how I might smuggle one of them home.  Alas, I brought the wrong sized handbag.

Considering it's winter, the flowers are stunning

Considering it’s winter, the flowers are stunning

To being our lunch we started with a welcome cocktail.  This is a drink I could easily become addicted to and it would have to be the best cocktail I have enjoyed all year.  It was made with Tanqueray gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon, chamomile tea syrup and passionfruit.  It was dangerously drinkable and I thought beautifully presented with the little half passionfruit floating on the top.

Welcome cocktail

Welcome cocktail

The entree was kingfish ceviche, passionfruit, coriander, jalapeno and dukkah.  The acid in the passionfruit when combined with the fish slightly cures it.  Everyone who had this dish gave it high praise.

Kingfish ceviche

Kingfish ceviche

There was a vegetarian entree option and that’s what I had.  It was a bowl of tofu with finely sliced jalepeno peppers with a very runny passionfruit sauce.  While the sauce was lovely and I enjoyed the heat from the jalepenos, for me this was just too much tofu for any one dish.

Tofu, jalapenos, coriander and passionfruit sauce

Tofu, jalapenos, coriander and passionfruit sauce

The main course was Hawaiian pork short ribs with passionfruit glaze, couscous and charred corn salsa.  This was a fantastic dish with beautiful sweetness in the sauce that combined really well with the sticky ribs.

Hawaiian pork short ribs with passionfruit glaze.

Hawaiian pork short ribs with passionfruit glaze.

Dessert was passionfruit curd, soft meringue and lemon thyme.  I made passionfruit curd recently (no, didn’t blog it), but kept the pips in the curd.  This curd had been strained but I think both versions work well.  Meringue and passionfruit curd are definitely a winning combination and the tiny sprinkle of lemon thyme gave the dessert beautiful freshness.

Passionfruit curd, soft meringue and lemon thyme

Passionfruit curd, soft meringue and lemon thyme

When I open a passionfruit I’ve always cut it in half but been annoyed by all the juice that inevitably escapes onto the chopping board.  Tina said to open a passionfruit you treat it like a boiled egg where you just cut off the top; that way you don’t lose any of the juice.  Cutting passionfruit like this can easily be turned into a magnificent pre-dinner drink.  Just add a nip of cointreau to the passionfruit and enjoy.

Edible 'flowers'

Edible ‘flowers’

When purchasing passionfruit, look for fruit that is heavy for its size.  If the fruit feels light, it means there is very little inside it so the heavier the fruit the more you gain.  While passionfruit are abundant, pour into ice cube trays to enjoy throughout the rest of the year.

Stunning flowers

Stunning flowers

And hears the best tip I heard, a little passionfruit in a glass of champagne is a wonderful celebratory drink.

A take home basket of passionfruit

A take home basket of passionfruit

Australia has three main types of passionfruit; panama, misty gem and sweetheart.  All are readily available now.

The varieties growing in Australia

The varieties growing in Australia

The Butler:  123 Victoria Street, Potts Point, NSW

Ph:  (02) 8354 0742

Comments

  1. What great tips there are here. I like the idea of opening a passionfruit like an egg, & will remember that. Our passionfruit have finished their season now, but I really enjoy them when they are abundant. A fascinating post, and tasty as always thanks Charlie. Love the flowers and passionfruit together also.

  2. We had a passionfruit vine in our garden in Johannesburg and we had so much fruit we never knew what to do with it. I never realised there were different varieties.
    Have an awesome day Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  3. Well well – I didn’t know there were many varieties and a great tip on how to cut a passionfruit open and save the juice. Looks like a lovely fresh menu to celebrate the fruit.

  4. I love passionfruit but of course here they’re all imported. Whilst the vines grow and flower they don’t really fruit. This looks like a fab event. I love the look of that dessert. GG

  5. What a wonderful event 🙂 I didn’t know that passion fruit were a winter fruit!!! But I do now… Thanks for sharing!!! Liz xx

  6. Reading this post was truly educational for me because I’ve never eaten passionfruit and know nothing about them. I don’t even know if they are available in stores here in my Minnesota community.

    Everything about the setting for this party is absolutely lovely.

  7. Magnificent event and a very informative post. I’m unlikely to see passionfruit locally but I have a jar of the preserve/jelly that a friend who lives in Hawaii sent me last year. I’m saving it for something special though I haven’t figured out what that will be yet.

    By the way, I like tofu but that dish was a bit TOO much tofu for me as well. 🙂

  8. I wish I could find decent passionfruit around here! I loved learning more about them—and they look so nice amongst those gorgeous flowers! What a fun event.
    P.S. I need to find a crop that does well with neglect! My kind of gardening 🙂

  9. Wow would never have thought to combine tofu with passionfruit and jalapeno! I tend to just put passionfruit on pav or yoghurt. Definitely need to expand my horizons. lol

    • I can understand the comment from Minnesota Prairie Roots. I was a New Zealand exchange student in Oregon in the 1950s and the reaction stemming from explaining to my class mates that my favourite fruit was something called “passion fruit” was all too much to take!

  10. Forgive me if I eye the beautiful roses ere I come to the passionfruit! Quite a few handy tips for a gal who did not do that crash hot even when growing passionfruit in the tropics . . . like my champagne straight, have had strawberries served alongside: perchance should try a passionfruit and see whether I like !!!

  11. Beautiful post, Charlie. Could you tell me what the other is the other component of that lovely dessert? Looks like Rice Bubbles, but I’m know that it won’t be.

    • Thanks so much, Carmen. It very nearly is rice bubbles, Carmen, it’s puffed rice that was served toasted so it was really crunchy. It gave the dessert lovely texture.

  12. OM – jalapenos, coriander and passionfruit – swoon!

  13. What a unique event Charlie! While I am not a big fan of passionfruit, I loved the edible flowers!

  14. This sounds like it was a tasty and beautiful affair, Charlie. I had never had passion fruit until this past January when we were on Kauai. It was served at my son’s Hawaiian wedding and it was such a treat. I think if it’s even available here it would be cost prohibitive. I enjoyed seeing how many ways it was served. 🙂

  15. What a gorgeous event! Passionfruit is a favourite of mine. Looking around for them in the UK at present, but have not seen any. xx

  16. What a delightful lunch with lovely centrepieces. That cocktail looked especially drinkable and I love cerviche. We used to have a passionfruit vine in one of our past houses and I have always cut them open the wrong way. The next one will be opened like a boiled egg.

  17. Those blossoms are gorgeous. Have you ever tried the yellow skinned passionfruit? I had some in Bali and they were amazing. So sweet and I would just break half a dozen open each day and eat them for breakfast.

    • Hi Lorraine, my passionfruit vine is a golden panama so yes, the outside skin of the fruit is yellow but they taste exactly the same as a purple-skinned panama. Tina says you can’t do better than a panama passionfruit however, when we were in Bali and staying at Ayana, the passionfruit we were served for breakfast were incredible. A slightly different flavour to the varieties grown in Australia and less tart and more sweet. Like you, I had plenty! But these had purple skins not yellow!

  18. Lovely, lovely event and setting, I too did not know there are different types of passion fruits, thanks for the tips on selecting and using, I have seen them occasionally in our food market but never knew how to select.
    I would need 2 servings of the Hawaiian pork short ribs.

  19. What fun. Great looking food. And those flower and fruit arrangements were gorgeous!!!

  20. Such interesting combinations Charlie. Glad it was a nice lunch and that you learnt a lot about passionfruits. I love that name

  21. When we moved to our property in the Adelaide Hills I was thrilled to find a huge passionfruit vine across the back yard which was part of a large windbreak protecting the house from the weather from the west. Sadly, it turned out to be ornamental and, while it is healthy and flowers beautifully, we never get any fruit. Sad, that.

  22. Mmmm – passionfruit – a vine on the fence is a must in any garden I have:-)

  23. Hi Charlie, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a passionfruit, but they sound delicious. Looks like a wonderful luncheon you went to, had a little chuckle about your purse size and the flower arrangement.

  24. This is the first year I’ve seen passionfruits in supermarkets here…and I LOVE THEM. This whole event sounds amazing!

  25. I had several passionfruit growing on a fence once and someone told me the same thing – that I would need to trim it back to one vine. I always cut in the middle too, what a great idea to cut off the top. You have brilliant tips!

  26. I need to find out if passionfruit like English weather – a plant that flourishes when neglected is just what I need!! What a lovely dinner although I agree, that is way too much tofu especially when served on its own. I like the tip about cutting passionfruit at the top and adding it to all sorts of drinks.

  27. Passionfruit season? I associate them with summer but will look out for them. I think I too would be the perfect gardener for a passionfruit vine! I would ignore it with aplomb. And I think that tofu looks like a lot to me too even though I love tofu. Thanks for the tip about opening them – I will try treating them like a boiled egg as I get annoyed to lose the lovely juice

  28. How great to have your own vine of passionfruit! Plants that enjoy neglect are exactly the kind I need in my garden. I wonder if I could grown passionfruit here? Love the tip about cutting off an end like a boiled egg. I’ll remember that!

  29. I am absolutely enchanted by the idea of a lunch to celebrate passion fruit. How lovely and cool is that? And, as it turns out, in spite of tofu overload, delicious!. While passion fruit does exist here (called maracuyá here), it rarely is found in the part of Mexico where I live. Too bad, as I love the flavor. Lucky you, to have so many varieties–I didn’t know such even existed!

  30. Mmm the pork with a tangy passionfruit glaze would be delicious!

  31. Dear, Charlie,
    I just LOVE clicking into your adventures, life, FOOD Fun!
    Is this your fulltime job?
    If so, can I apply to be your assistant?
    Lovely table settings. Lush food!
    Oh. MY!
    xxxx Love from MN>

  32. Tonette Joyce says:

    Glorious! I don’t know passionfruit at all.

Trackbacks

  1. […] how I recently attended a lunch promoting passionfruit season?  I was given a lovely big basket of passionfruit to take away with me.  Arabella hasn’t […]

  2. […] how I recently attended a lunch promoting passionfruit season?  I was given a lovely big basket of passionfruit to take away with me.  Arabella hasn’t […]

  3. […] for some reason, one passionfruit decided to get ahead of the pack.  It proves what I was taught when I attended a talk by a passionfruit farmer, that passionfruit cannot be tamed, and will do their own thing all on their own […]

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