Last weekend, we had the delight of going over to the east coast to visit friends in Cheviot and Kaikoura—the areas I spent my eight most formulative years. It was so good to be back, to see all the familiar landscape that still feels like home even though it hasn’t been for nearly four years now.
I didn’t manage to take a single picture while we were there—just soaked up the time with friends who are almost family. But it was wonderful. God is so good!
We didn’t bring a lot back with us, aside from lovely memories and several chilly bins (coolers) of wild cherries that we picked one afternoon. But one thing my brothers did pick up while we were there was several bags of banana passionfruit!
Like most other passionfruit, I assume, banana passionfruit is a vine, and in this country, it tends to be something of an invasive weed, taking over large blocks of forestland where it grows wild. It’s illegal to distribute the plants, but if you happen to know where to go to get the fruits, they are quite a delight—as long as you don’t mind crunching on seeds with every bite!
By the time they got home, some were starting to spoil, but most were still in good enough condition to do something with them. And since we weren’t likely to eat them all raw, I decided to try my hand at making jelly! I’ve never made any before, so I thought this was a good thing to experiment on.
And since I may want to make it again, I thought I’d post the recipe here—perhaps it will inspire you to do something similar. It is fun to experiment in the kitchen, isn’t it?
Note: I used this recipe as my starting point, although some steps and ingredients were altered.
Banana Passionfruit Jelly/Jam
20 – 30 banana passionfruit, washed and trimmed*
6 – 8 Tbsp. lemon juice (~ the juice of 2 lemons)
1.1 kg sugar (can do less**)
Slice the banana passionfruit in half and scrape out the seeds (I used my thumbs) into a pot. Drop the skins in with the pulp. Put water in to just cover everything—I used 4 – 6 cups total, although that meant I had to reduce the juice afterward by quite a bit. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 – 45 min., stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving the juice, and press the pulp together to squeeze out as much juice as possible. Throw the skins and remaining seeds away.
Return the juice to a pot and add the lemon juice and sugar, boil until you get to the setting point (this was where it took me a while . . . maybe another 30 min. to reduce enough). Pour into clean jars, and water bath for 15 min. to seal them.
*I didn’t count how many passionfruits there were when I started, so this is the closest estimate I can do.
**My end product was quite sweet, so the amount of sugar can be reduced. However, you do need a certain amount of sugar to activate the pectin, so I don’t know how much you can reduce it while still getting a strong setting-point.
I left the skins with the pulp in the hopes that it would release pectin into the juice. Pectin, of course, is what makes jelly and jam set up, and according to the research I’ve done, it lives in the skins of fruit. If you don’t have organic fruit, you might not want to do that . . . but it worked for me this time! Apparently the lemon juice has something to do with helping with the pectin, but I think it’s also a nice addition on the flavor side.
The amount I made yielded around 6 half-pints, one of which has already disappeared. 🙂
If you aren’t familiar with banana passionfruit, here’s a picture I posted on my first-ever blog post on my first blog, when I was 12 years old and just learning to love writing. I was amused to find it today . . . out-of-focus picture, misspelled words, Comic Sans font, and all! These banana passionfruits aren’t quite ripe; when they are ripe, they turn a beautiful orangy-yellow color.
What was your last cooking adventure?