Friday, 15 July 2016

Maracuja Madness!

by Rachel

Burundi is a country obviously known for its bananas (if by obviously I mean we mention it a lot to people).  We are also able to get pineapples, oranges, and mangoes in season.  Apples are available as expensive imports from Kenya, and occasionally we'll find a watermelon or some gooseberries as well.  It's not a huge variety (and boy do we miss berries of all sorts) but it's good.  One of the available fruits that I haven't yet mentioned is something I had never tried before our arrival in Burundi: the passion fruit.  It's also known locally as "maracuja."  The fruit is slightly larger than the size of a golf ball and when ripe has a deep purple exterior.  The inside is an orangish-yellow pulp with black seeds.  To eat them, we cut them in half and suck out the inside, or use a spoon to scoop it out.  It's a little bit tangy/tart and a little bit sweet, along the lines of citrus.
Ben demonstrating the inside of a passion fruit
 When we moved into our house, now just over 2 years ago, a number of plants were planted in our yard...mostly saplings, but some flowers and vines as well.  Passion fruit is a vine that tends to wrap around trees for growth.  We were hoping to get it (and some bougainvillea) to grow on the brick walls around the housing area, but so far it hasn't attached well.  It HAS flourished, however, propped up by sticks or attached to bushes.  We returned in January to find no fewer than 10 mature passion fruit vines around the edges of our yard, and they have really been producing.  It doesn't seem to be seasonal, and so most weeks we have a "harvest" of 20-40 ripe passion fruits.  You can see one of the vines below, which is actually growing on a loquat tree (apparently a fruit but not one that I've ever enjoyed).  All of the little green globes are passion fruits in progress.
How many passion fruits can you see here?  More than 15!
So, what do you do with passion fruits?  The kids love to eat them, but you can only eat so many, I suppose.  I have been scouring the internet for recipes and have found some winners so far.  I have made passion fruit sorbet in our ice cream maker, passion fruit cake w/ passion fruit icing for Ben's birthday party last March, and last week I stumbled upon a super yummy passion fruit curd (this might sound weird if you've never heard of lemon curd, but it's a sort of spread, like a cross between jam and pudding).  I feel like a passion fruit meringue pie should be possible, but haven't tried it yet.  We'll see what new creations reveal themselves in the weeks to come!  I read online that these fruits are hard to come by in the US, available only in specialty grocery stores and sometimes costing up to $3/apiece so you might have to come visit us if you want to try them. :)  If you find yourself with your own overabundance of passion fruit, drop me a note and I'll send you some recipes.
Passion fruit birthday cake
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