Sunday, April 02, 2017

A Passion for Passionfruit.

A recent and ongoing glut of passionfruit made me realise that this is a fruit I have not considered on this blog so far, so today I want to remedy that situation. I hasten to add that the glut was not of my own production or harvesting, but that of my sister who lives in a tropical paradise in Far North Queensland. The embarrassment of riches produced by the passionfruit vine in her rainforest backyard garden has to be seen to be believed. And the same goes for the neighbours, who have the same problem – the passionfruit vine growing, as it does, like the proverbial weed in the tropics. Sadly, the 1700 km (over 1000 miles) distance between us means that I cannot help out with the consumption, cooking, and preserving of the fruit – and anyway, passionfruit is very cheap to buy here in subtropical Brisbane.

To help her out, I promised my sister that I would find some recipes – historical of course - to inspire her. But first, a few general points about passionfruit.

Passiflora edulis (the common passionfruit) is a vine which is native to South America. The Anglicised common name was the inspiration of seventeenth century Spanish missionaries who saw in its flowers features which they interpreted as being symbolic of the crucifixion of Christ, and the few days preceding it (called the Passion) which they then used in their strenuous attempts to convert the indigenous folk to Christianity. They gave the flower the name flor das cinco chagas or "flower of the five wounds" which they determined represented the wounds received by Christ at the crucifixion:

·       The five stamens: the 5 wounds.
·       The 3 stigmata: 3 nails used in the crucifixion.
·       The pointed leaves: the Holy Lance
·       Ten petals: the ten faithful apostles.
·       The ‘corona’ of radial filaments: the Crown of Thorns
·       The tendrils: the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
·       The ovary (which is chalice-shaped) and receptacle: the Holy Grail.

Passionfruit is mentioned a number of times in Queensland newspapers in the 1860’s. As would be expected, the plant thrived in the warm and humid climate. I can find no evidence of early attempts to develop the passionfruit as a commercial crop, perhaps because it grew like a weed in gardens and around homesteads, so there was no incentive.

A few mentions from The Queenslander might give an idea of its status in the nineteenth century:

1869: The Qld. Horticultural Society report made mention of the fine preserves presented at its show, which included passionfruit amongst the “most notable”

1870: The Acclimatisation Society report of June 1870 noted the receipt of seed of Passiflora macrocarpa “a new and gigantic passion-fruit.”

1873: In an article “Weeds” The QueenslanderPassiflora edulis, Sims.- Common passion-fruit. This favourite South African fruit is now one of the commonest plants of our scrubs.”

1880: In December 1880, a correspondent to the newspaper proudly opined:
“Any Victorian arriving in Brisbane at the present time, or even during the past three weeks, could not help being astonished, if he looked into the fruit shops at the early date of the ripening of our fruits. Grapes, water-melons, rock-melons, peaches, passion-fruit, pineapples, and bananas are in abundance and of excellent quality, if we except the peaches.”

1883: In a short piece about climbing plants:
“The common passion-fruit (Passiflora edulis) is a rampant grower and an immense bearer… … it is astonishing the amount of fruit it will carry in one season.

Passionfruit was a welcome addition to fruit salads (still a popular use) and of course, jam, but it was some time before recipes for the fruit became popular in newspapers. I have a selection for you here, and hope you find them useful if you are lucky enough to have a surplus thrust upon you in the future.   

Passionfruit Jam.
This is made from the skins. Cut the fruit in two and take out the inside: take a quarter of the skins and boil them in water until quite tender. Scoop out the pulp from the shells with a spoon and add it to the seeds and juice. Add 1 lb. sugar to 1 lb. fruit and boil until of a proper consistency.
The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton) 24 November, 1932

Passionfruit and tomato jam.
Take 36 passionfruit, 4 lb. firm ripe tomatoes, sugar and water. Halve passionfruit and scoop out pulp and seeds. Put skins in a preserving pan, cover with water (about 2 pints), boil quickly for 1 hour and strain. Pour boiling water, over tomatoes, remove skins, cut slightly and put into preserving pan, allowing 1 lb. sugar to every 1 lb. tomatoes. Measure passionfruit pulp and seeds and the liquid from the skins, allow 1 lb. sugar to every pint and add tomatoes. Boil all together quickly for 1 ½ hour or a little longer.
The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton) 24 November, 1932

Passion-Fruit Pulp.
This is the method of preserving passion-fruit pulp: Take the glass jars with screw-top lids and rubber rings, and put them into cold water in a large vessel, and bring it to boiling point to sterilise. While the water is boiling, scrape the pulp from the shells of the fruit, and boil it. without water for five minutes. When finished have a piece of folded damp cloth on the table, and the rubbers ready. Take out one jar at a time from the sterilizing vessel, and the jug or ladle, which also should have been sterilised. Shake the water from the jars, but avoid touching any part of the jars with which the fruit will come in contact. Put the rubber ring on the jar and quickly fill to the very top with the boiling pulp, and screw on the lid immediately, leaving the jar on the damp cloth until cold. It will be more convenient if the pulp can be poured through a wide mouthed funnel, and this also should be sterilised. It is most important if the pulp, is to preserve perfectly, to exercise the greatest care regarding the sterilizing of everything used.
Daily Mercury (Mackay) 7 July 1933.

Passionfruit Butter.
Ingredients: Two ounces butter, 4 ounces sugar, 3 yolks eggs, 3 or 4 passionfruit.
Method: Remove pulp from the passionfruit, strain. Put the liquid into a saucepan with the other ingredients; stir over a low gas until thick.
Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 22 April, 1934.

Passionfruit Icing.
Ingredients: Half-pound Icing sugar sifted, 1 passionfruit, about 1 ½ tablespoons hot water.
Method: Mix the hot water and passionfruit together, add to the icing sugar, mix well, and pour over.
Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 22 April, 1934.

Passion Fruit Wine.
Nine dozen large passion fruit, 2 gallons of cold  water, 8 lb. white sugar, 1 oz. isinglass.
Mix the passion fruit pulp with 1 gallon of cold water, let stand for 36 hours, stirring occasionally and then strain through a jelly-bag. Take out the pulp, mix with the second gallon of water and strain again. Then add the sugar, also isinglass; which should be dissolved in a cup of hot water. Let all stand for six or seven days to ferment in a wooden tub or crock, stirring two or three times. Now strain again and bottle. Do not cork too tightly at first or the bottles will burst. Store in a cool place and it will be ready for use in nine months.
Warwick Daily News, 25 April 1942

Passionfruit Blancmange.
Ingredients: twelve passionfruit, one pint water, three level tablespoons sugar, three level dessertspoons cornflour, one egg.
Method: boil passionfruit pulp and water for 15 minutes, then strin. Add sugar and cornflour and boil another seven minutes, then yolk of egg and boil a minute longer. When nearly cold, add stiffly beaten white of egg. Set mould in a cool place.
The Telegraph, 14 December, 1945

Passionfruit Cake.
Her recipe for the ever popular passionfruit cake wins "The Telegraph" competition prize today for Mrs Mattthews, Winsome Road, Salisbury. Here it is:
Take 2 cups self-raising flour, ¼ teaspoon spoon salt, ½ cup shortening, juice and seeds 1 passionfruit, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs (well beaten), 1 teaspoon lemon essence, cup milk. Sift flour and salt, cream shortening, add sugar gradualy, cream together, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and essence slowly. Add flour after [? Alternating] with milk, small amounts at a time. Add passionfruit. Bake in greased cake tin in moderate oven for 25 minutes.
The Telegraph, 99 January 1946.
Passionfruit Pudding.
Take three tablespoons shortening, 3 tablespoons sugar, 6 tablespoons self-raising flour, pinch salt, 2 eggs, juice and pulp 6 passionfruit and a little lemon juice.
Beat butter and sugar to a cream and add beaten eggs, sifted flour and salt. Mix in the passion-fruit pulp and lemon juice. Pour into a well-greased basin and steam for 1 ½ hours.
Brisbane Telegraph, 1 March 1954.

Previous passionfruit recipes on this blog:
Pumpkin Passionfruit Pie (1915)
Passionfruit Cup (1941)

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