Gleanings from Bali: Passion Fruit

What healthy vine will roar around the garden like a train, lustily embracing any support that leads it closer to the sun?

Ibu Kat describes the local passion fruit in Bali that way.  I know and love passion fruit, liliko’i, from Hawaii.  You may know the intensely flavorful and usually a bit sour fruit as passion fruit or passionfruit, maracuya, granadille, maracujá or lilikoʻi.

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Iiliko’i vine and fruit

In “A Passion for Passionfruit,” Ibu Kat provides great facts about this seemingly indestructible plant:

“Passiflora is one hardy plant.  Seedlings spring up from the compost bin, beside walls or wherever birds have dropped them.  Once they are established, they’re pretty much indestructible.  . .. Undeterred by monsoonal floods or torrid droughts, they just keep on climbing determinedly upwards.  I encourage them to grow up tall trees and one has now colonized the roof.  Literature states the vine can grow about 6 m  [over 19 feet] a year but in my experience, it’s more like 10cm [almost 4 inches] a day.

After a while – about a year, after you’ve forgotten about them and the vines have largely disappear in the tree canopies – the oval fruits will start to appear in the grass.

When ripe, the passion fruit releases itself from the mother plant and drops to earth; it picks itself.  Which is just as well considering the dizzying heights from which some of them are falling.  The larger ones sometimes crack upon impact with the earth.  A good wind or heavy rain can produce quite a harvest.  Ignored, the shell eventually rots away and the seeds will germinate where they landed to start the whole process over again.  But it’s much more fun to pick them up and take them home.

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Drink the passion fruit juice or just spoon it out of the shell. You can eat the seeds too.

This particular variety has a very deep flavour and aroma, and a sweet/sour acidity that most Balinese don’t like. Wayan Manis wrinkles her nose and declares them ‘pahit’ [bitter].  But the juice makes a wonderful substitute for vinegar in salad dressings, introducing a distinctive fruity dimension to the proceedings.  A shot of juice is lovely in a glass of cold soda or tonic or just by itself, iced, on a hot day.  I’ve heard a rumour that a passion fruit daiquiri is very nice.  Passion fruit makes a lovely tangy preserve which goes well with cheese.

Of course you can just cut the top off like a boiled egg and eat the contents with a spoon, or pour the lot over yogurt.

It’s astonishing, really, that we seem to be the only species that eats it.  My garden is plagued by a family of squirrels. . . These rodents have destroyed every durian and coconut in my garden for years now, taking a single bite which spoils the fruit before moving on to the next.  But they won’t touch passion fruit.

Neither will the bats.  They help themselves to the papayas just at the moment of perfect ripeness, leaving the ragged remains of the fruit hanging sadly from the stem or slumped on the ground. . . . But they show no interest in the passion fruit even when I leave an open one around to tempt them.  . . .

So I’m the only one who thinks that passion fruit is a good idea, and it’s my job to keep up with the crop.  Since the vines can produce for up to five years it’s an ongoing exercise.  I collect them, scoop out the pulp, press it through a potato ricer and freeze the juice.  I give away scores of seedlings.  My compost is full of passion fruit shells.

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Passion fruit species vary in color and taste; all those I’ve had were good.

The purple variety of passion fruit is thought to have originated in Paraguay, and being so conveniently packed in its own tough skin was easy for early European explorers and traders to disseminate around the world.  But the fruit is endemic in the tropics and subtropics of every continent except Africa.  Most species are found in South America, eastern Asia, southern Asia and New Guinea.  Nine separate species of Passiflora are native to the United States, at least four species are found in Australia and there is one endemic species in New Zealand.

Some interesting facts to keep up your sleeve for Quiz Night: many species of butterflies rely on passion fruit leaves.  The seeds yield about 23% oil similar in properties to sunflower and soya oil.  Different species are pollinated by hummingbirds, bumble bees. Carpenter bees, wasps or bats, while others are self-pollinating.  The flower was named by Spanish missionaries to South America as an expository aid while trying to convert the indigenous inhabitants to Christianity. [Spiky structures sticking out from the center of the flower  symbolize the crown of thorns; the ten petals represent the ten faithful apostles, the  three stigmata symbolize  the three nails, and the five anthers representing the five wounds. https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071203034037AARs16R].

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Passion fruit flower – beautiful and edible (but then you won’t get the delicious fruit)!

http://bargains-o-plenty.com/Plants/PassionFruit.html

So next time someone congratulates you on your passion fruit vine you can tell them all about it.

Passion fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals.  One hundred grams of fruit contains about 30 mg of vitamin C, 1274 units of vitamin A, 348  mg of potassium along with significant amounts of iron copper, magnesium and phosphorus.

As with everything else, rarity adds value to a product.  If you live in the continental USA, one Californian fruit supplier will be happy to send you eight fruit for US $28 or Rp. 45,588 each.  That makes me feel pretty smug.  And no way will I be coming down with scurvy any time soon” (Bali Advertiser, 28 September -12 October, 2016, p. 31).

**

Ibu Kat’s book of stories Bali Daze – Free-fall off the Tourist Trail is available at Ganesha Books in Bali and on Kindle.  Watch for her new book, Retired and Rewired.

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https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Bali+Daze

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Passion fruit in Bali – rr photo

Here in Bali, the passion fruit we tried is more oval shaped and a bit sweeter than the kinds we have in Hawaii.

I hope you are able to enjoy tangy, healthy passion fruit wherever you are.

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Our breakfast fruit plate at Agus Ayu Cottages; watermelon, papaya, pineapple, and passion fruit – yummy

Aloha, Renée

Images from <https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fimages-na.ssl-images-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F31uclgtT0NL.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FTropical-Importers-Fresh-Passion-Fruit%2Fdp%2FB00AFZ6B4E&docid=7vfzKsC7Yte-sM&tbnid=B4y6nU_U6wMYxM%3A&w=243&h=208&bih=629&biw=1269&ved=0ahUKEwiTwMrYzdnPAhUBOY8KHUOSB-8QxiAIAg&iact=c&ictx=1>.

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

4 responses to “Gleanings from Bali: Passion Fruit”

  1. Rosita says :

    Yummy, that seems to be delicious….I’m a proud foodie and, BTW, my fav kind of food are those spicy ones and sour fruits. I like this kind of food since I was a kid, and, personally, I never liked candies so much, as most children would do. I wasn’t that stereotypical girly. Instead of that, I always was that a-bit-unconventional child 😄 I’m rarely sick, sometimes I get dengue or a cold, which occurs 2wice per year or so, but, all in all, I’m pretty healthy, and I guess that the fact of preferring fruits rather than candies boost my immune system, improving my health. I’m not fat, in fact, I see myself as underweight 😂 OK, maybe I’m a bit thin, but I’m not obsessed-about-my-weight, instead of that, I accept myself the way God made me, but I do exercises – jogging with Bali at the kampung, water aerobics, some stretching and ballroom dancing -, NOT to lose weight, ’cause I don’t need doing that for now, and hope I’ll never need, but yah for improving my wellbeing sense, apart from the fact those things I do can – and will – improve my health & life quality, if kept for a longterm. Sincerely, I feel worried for those people who are very obsessed about their weight, ’cause it can lead to diseases such as anorexia or bulimia, and those problems are very serious, as we know. Sometimes, I wonder about why people don’t accept themselves as they’re and are always seeking ways of drastically changing their body, by submitting themselves to crazy diets, some of them deliberately dying by starvation (!) just due to the fear they might be overweight, when, in fact, they’re skeletycal. That’s a dramatic illness and need be regarded as a serious medical problem. Well, at least is how I see that. Since y’all are still in Bali, how is Balinese sense of wellbeing? Is it being (negatively) affected by westerner junky food & problems as bulimia or anorexia? I hope not.
    May God bless y’all,
    R

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Rosita: I haven’t seen evidence of problems with bulimia or anorexia – or obesity in Bali. Overall, the Balinese look healthy and seem to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and most seem to get plenty of exercise. Many men smoke, however. 😦 Among poor families there is a high infant and maternal death rate 😦 and if they get something such as rabies, they don’t have the money to get help) But for ordinary ills, they seem to do okay. I came across an article on dengue that might be useful to you. See what you think. . Although the cure involves vodka, it might be worth a try. Hope everything is good with you. xoxo, Renée

      • Rosita says :

        Awwwnnn thxs ❤️ I don’t need none exotic – or weird, as I’d describe it – treatment for dengue, ’cause I use Tylenol and some hot compresses for pain relief. But thxs anyways!

      • reneeriley says :

        I think you must be tough to handle dengue. Aloha, Renée

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