Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The Passion (Fruit)
On a most recent trip to Paris I was lucky enough to catch sight of the absolutely spectacular and surreal passion fruit flower which begins to fruit in the Spring in France (though in places closer to the equator the seasons are longer August - December and March - May). I've always loved passion fruit with it's tart sweetness and crunchy bits of seed interspersed throughout. It's a commonly eaten fruit in both Colombia and Thailand, two places that are home to me and I've grown up in. But for whatever reason, I never caught glimpse of what it looks like as it grows, nor did I know it was a creeping vine, much like a weed - it can spread and grow like no other fruit I've seen. Except perhaps raspberries which also spread in bramble style across where they are planted or native.
In any event, it got me thinking what has passion fruit been used for medicinally speaking, since that's what I think about almost all the time as it pertains to food. In Chinese Medicine, passion fruit is considered cooling, slightly bitter and bland, and has a calming and nourishing affect on the heart yin (in non-TCM terms this would be more so the liquid and physical aspect of the heart, versus the function). Interestingly enough, passion fruit has been studied quite thoroughly by the pharmaceutical industry for it's calming and sedative effects! The irony of the use of passion in it's name helps you to remember that it is not there to inflame but rather to sedate and calm. Passion fruit is also known to lower high blood pressure and can be used as a digestive stimulant, especially in cases of stomach cancer.
The one thing about passion fruit that is challenging is the often times incredible tartness. This can mean that it requires the help of a little added sweetness to round it out and let the flavors come out more. My favorite way to have passion fruit is in juice form.
Ingredients : fresh fruit or passion fruit pulp, honey, ice, water
1. Simply scoop out the pulp, put it in a blender, mix with some ice, water, and honey (or your choice of sweetness enhancement) and blend. Water to pulp ratio should be about 1:1 (adjust per taste).
Another excellent way to use passion fruit in the summer is in sorbet form, here is a recipe that is simple and delicious.