More Passionfruit

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.

10 replies
  1. Ayse
    Ayse says:

    The seed problem is why I make passionfruit jelly rather than jam — just leave the seeds in and let them stay behind during the straining phase in the jelly bag.

    And we grow passiflora edulis in our garden, and let me assure you that while it is larger, it has the same hard-leathery-shell outside and ooey-gooey-seed inside; I can’t imagine how one would slice it into thin slices. I just slit the shell and scoop the insides out with a spoon, then store it in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch. Which reminds me I was going to make passionfruit-strawberry jam (make the juice for passionfruit jelly, then add to an equal amount of strawberry puree). Must get around to that.

  2. Blueloom
    Blueloom says:

    My husband & I call it “Urban Guerrilla Berry Picking.” Around here (northern Virginia), we pick wineberries, black raspberries, and (very occasionally) red raspberries. We find them along bike trails and at the edges of wooded areas. We used to make a lot of wineberry jam (freezer jam–we’re lazy), but it’s not really very successful as a jam b/c the fruit has such a high water content. Wineberries are a very sour cousin of red raspberries, but they’re great for eating fresh (w/ some sugar or honey) or on yogurt.

  3. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    pretty fascinating post. Great eye for spotting that hidden gem near the highway! Do these passion fruits taste like the tropical passion fruits?

  4. Molly Rosen (aka sansimeongirl)
    Molly Rosen (aka sansimeongirl) says:

    Dying to know, did it set up yet?

    This year I worked up the nerve to ask my elderly neighbors if they minded letting me harvest mulberries off the tree in their yard. I made a nice batch of mulberry jam and gave them a jar to thank them.

  5. Betty
    Betty says:

    Great pictures. I still haven’t found a real recipe for making maypop jelly. I did meet someone who says he cooks the pulp with some water and makes the best jelly from it.

  6. the12catlady
    the12catlady says:

    If you put the pulp into the blender on the lowest speed possible, it will loosen the pulp from the seed to make it easier to strain it out ( leave it on maybe 30 seconds – do not restart, it will break seeds for some reason – but not too bad). If you do it with the already simmered pulp, the seeds will fall to the bottom of the blender and you can pour most of the pulp off seed free (please do remember to cool it first so you don’t get burned…)
    Happy jam and jelly making!
    Maypop jam is delicious!

  7. Ken Forrestee
    Ken Forrestee says:

    My maypops seem to turn a creamsickle orange color as they ripen. I’ve collected, washed, and put them in a sauce pan whole (outer orange flesh and ruby red seed clusters) with a cup of water for each cup and a half of fruit. I have several tub of this invite freezer waiting until I have enough to attempt jelly/jam. Now I read here I should have only used the red seeds/inner pulp w/o skins. Should I toss what I have so far? Anybody have insight into using the whole fruit?

  8. Michael
    Michael says:

    Ken, I seriously doubt that what you have are maypops, with the fruit and seed color. It sounds like Passiflora caerulea, the Blue Crown Passionflower. The flavor is very different – caerulea is OK in a salad or similar, but doesn’t have enough tang that I would want to make jelly. You can certainly give it a try – but I don’t have any real suggestions for using what you’ve got so far.

  9. EdwardW
    EdwardW says:

    As Michael said, those looks like Passiflora Caerulea, although the images posted looks as if they would be unrip. The outer skin turns a bright orange and the inner pulp turns a dark red, when fully ripe. Eating the pulp along with the seeds give it a slightly bitter taste, which might be the low levels of Cyanogenic Glycosides present in the seeds. I’m currently looking for a fairly easy way to separate the seeds from the pulp. I think I may give the process that the12catlady, posted above. The pulp alone reminds me of the taste of blackberry/raspberry.

  10. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    I can’t believe you were able to harvest that many maypop fruits in a wild setting! Normally the 4-legged critters get to all the wild fruit. I suppose the urban location helps a lot.
    I’m glad to see the other comments clear-up the fact that Passiflora incarnata fruits do NOT turn orange. Sadly i have seen reference to orange maypop fruits in foraging books, such as Southeast Foraging, which is a mistake. I grow maypops for fruit and have never seen an orange one : )

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