One of the reasons that I get really annoyed when people refer to outdoor sericulture as “wildcrafting,” is that I know from wildcrafting… we usually called it “picking blackberries” or “picking wild grapes” in my family, but we have a long history on both sides of going into the wild and coming back with jams and cobblers.
I posted last October about my favorite Passionfruit patch. It’s on a freeway verge, so it’s not really “wilderness,” but with the plants growing there naturally, this is definitely wildcrafting. This past weekend, I saw highway mowers scalping along some of the Dallas highways, and so I decided I needed to make another visit before it gets chopped off to the ground.
Unless you noticed the areas of darker green vines, or saw them when they were in flower, you’d never know they were there. The purple flowers in the foreground are some kind of nightshade relative.
Different view of the same strip. There are vines on both sides of the freeway, but the ones on the far side of the bridge had fewer fruit.
The vines that were in fairly low grass seemed to bear the best and most fruit.
The leaves and tendrils are distinctive.
These fruits are almost ready. If the fruit drops when the vine is lifted up, it’s ready. If it clings to the vine, it’s too green.
The two fruits on the lower right are ripe; the one holding on to the vine is for next week’s harvest.
There are a lot of green, lush vines that get partial shade from the freeway bridge. Unfortunately, they had almost no fruit.
The flower on the wild type vines is lovely, but not terribly showy. I notice them while driving down the freeway, but they’re certainly not eye-catching from a distance.
They’re quite pretty close-to!
Occasionally, lifting up a vine will yield a whole line of fruit ready to go. I love when this happens. It’s like an Easter egg hunt set to “easy.”
Almost two hours of picking yielded fifteen pounds of fruit, enough to fill three plastic grocery sacks.
I looked high and low to find a recipe for jelly, but everything I could find was for tropical passionfruit, Passiflora edulis, and I’m dealing with the American passionfruit, or maypop, Passiflora incarnata. It was really evident when I would find instructions like “slice passionfruit thinly”… anyone who thinks they can slice these things has better knife skills than I do. I finally realized that I needed to search on the colloquial names… “maypop jelly” found a likely-looking recipe pretty quickly.
The best method I found for separating the peels from the pulp and seeds, was to pop the top open…
and squeeze out the guts.
It leaves very little waste.
A kettle full of the pulp and seeds, before cooking.
After a little simmering, they start to lose their shape, and the juice starts to flow. Unfortunately, it’s still a SERIOUS pain in the butt to get the pulp clear from the seeds – it clogs the sieve, and there’s a lot of fussy work with the spoon. The food mill was not helpful, as it tends to crack the seeds and give the whole thing a much different flavor.
I’m withholding my opinion for the moment on the jelly recipe – I made two batches, and they cooked up beautifully, but neither has set. I have read that high-acid jellies and marmalades can take weeks to set, so I’m giving it a little time before I try re-cooking. I can tell you for sure, though, that the flavor is amazing.