Australians just love passionfruit. I don’t know what it is, but we do. I am guessing it has something to do with the ubiquitous pavlova smothered in passionfruit pulp of our childhood.
I, usually, have a soap stall at the Bridgetown Riverside Markets over Easter. Soap making is just a hobby for me but, as anyone who has made soap knows, it is very addictive and it is impossible not to make too much soap. Alas, soap making is a popular hobby. You will find a couple of soap stalls at most markets. Bridgetown is no different. I needed a secret weapon to attract customers and it came in the shape of passionfruit. My plan was to use passionfruit as bait for soap customers… and it worked!
In the last couple of weeks, we have gathered in excess of 1,200 passionfruit. We have a small coolroom that stocks all our produce from the vegie patch, flours for bread making and our store of seeds, nuts, grains, etc (and the odd bottles of wine and beer).
Of late, half of the usual coolroom contents have been out on the bench. The coolroom was full of passionfruit and the laundry floor was covered in boxes of passionfruit. We could hardly move. I made about 20 jars of passionfruit syrup out of the small passionfruit and those that had ripened too early to store. Maus and I have extracted the pulp from 5 buckets of passionfruit to distribute to family and friends when we see them. Everyone who visits gets a bag of passionfruit … but still the passionfruit come.
As I said, I decided to use the passionfruit as bait for customers at the markets.
The plan was a raging success. In one morning, we sold lots of soap and about 400 passionfruit. At first, we were going to sell them for 50c each but then I remembered some advice I had read to always offer a bargain so I made up a sign, “6 for $2.50”. Everyone bought at least 6.
In one family, each child bought a dozen and then came back saying, “Mum said we have to buy more because we have eaten all the other ones.”
A little boy wanted his mum to keep adding more to her bag, even though she had reached her quota. We let him keep the one gripped in his hand. 🙂
Late in the morning, an elderly man reprimanded me. He had seen some people eating passionfruit and asked them where they bought them. He found us and bought some. “You should have a big sign up,” he said. “Some people didn’t even know there were passionfruit available. I haven’t had a feed of passionfruit in years.” It was as if it was our fault he nearly missed the opportunity to “get a feed”.
“From where have they all come?”, I hear you ask. It is a long story.
My relationship with passionfruit started when we decided to call our block, “Passion Fruit Garden”. Everyone assumed that we had called our place, “Passionfruit Garden” – notice the lack of a space after the “n”? The question we were regularly asked was, “Do you grow passionfruit?” To make things simple, I thought I would put a vine in so I could answer, “Yes”, but it didn’t eventuate.
Years later, a reader of this blog, who was visiting to collect some sourdough starter, asked if I wanted some passionfruit cuttings. I didn’t even know passionfruit vines grew from cuttings, let alone the fact that they are very easy to grow that way. My cuttings grew and I planted two. I later found out that they are Red Panama variety.
But the story will come to an end. We are having the house painted at the moment so we had to cut the vines back severely. It is the wrong time to be pruning passionfruit. You are supposed to prune them in Spring, after the last frosts. The vines were still laden with fruit. And passionfruit vines have a short life span
We have taken cuttings from these and intend to plant them if the vines don’t survive. We are in the process of trying to work out where to plant them. We don’t want them on the house because they attract rats but we don’t have anywhere else. We need passionfruit so I can say, “Yes” to that question and … to attract customers to my Easter stall!
We still haven’t worked out what to do with the pile in the coolroom. A fruit broker did offer to buy them from us but we are not in the game for the money so we don’t want to do that. I have searched the web to see if you can preserve the pulp in any way other than freezing it. It doesn’t appear so. I even thought of drying the pulp into leather but doubt whether it is feasible. Passionfruit do not like prolonged exposure to heat so I don’t think it will work but I am going to give it a bash anyway.
If anyone wants tips on growing passionfruit:
- Get a cutting. Don’t buy a grafted variety.
- Provide a huge, strong frame for it to grow on.
- Water your vine regularly. We water ours for 10 minutes every two days over summer.
- Fertilise your vine in Spring.
- Enjoy the passionfruit, there will be many.