An unexpected abundance of sweet passionfruit is hitting stores right now, giving Aussies an early treat ahead of the traditional winter peak.
Thanks to plenty of warm and humid days earlier this year, passionfruits are popping off the vines, resulting in a consistent flow of excellent quality fruit. The supply is set to increase over the coming months, with growers predicting a bountiful winter crop.
Nick Hornery, a second-generation Australian passionfruit grower from Newrybar in Northern NSW, is pleased that the influx means Aussies can keep enjoying passionfruit well into the cooler months.
'Our autumn crop started slightly late, in early April. Since then we've been busy picking around 15,000 passionfruits a day on average. Our vines have been flush with flowers which are setting into a great winter crop with a slightly tangier taste."
Nick is one of 190 passionfruit farmers in Australia who work seven days a week to deliver top quality fruit to store shelves around the country. Nick enlists a team of locals to help collect the fruit and has help from his family, including his four-year-old son Gus, who loves tractor rides around the farm. When the weather cools down they pick around two to three times a week as the fruit isn't under threat of sunburn, and the days are shorter.
Nick has also introduced his own beehives to the farm, which he says have really helped the fruiting process and have been a key factor in this year's successful crop yield. He believes this will assist the fruiting process and deliver more passionfruit in the coming seasons.
'There have always been many beehives around the farm, however we've now been able to capture our own hives to manage ourselves. This is a bit of a tricky process; we have to shake the trees to capture the swarm or ball of bees and then move them to where they can best pollinate our vines. I've been stung a few times and I'm planning to take a course in bee-keeping to get more expertise."
Although it is available all year round, passionfruit experiences a peak in summer and winter. With over 15 years in the passionfruit industry, Nick shares his top tips to enjoy this sweet treat during this peak season:
Picking and storing your fruit:
• Pick ripe fruit that is plump, smooth and heavy for its size – wrinkly does not mean ripe!
• Passionfruit lasts up to one month in the fridge and two weeks in the fruit bowl – keep them in a plastic bag to maximise freshness.
• Enjoy passionfruit on its own - instead of chopping them in half, simply slice off the top to avoid losing the juice. Packed with vitamin C and fibre, a passionfruit makes for a delicious and nutritious snack.
• Passionfruit glazes and sauces are a perfect match for meat such as roast chicken or pork spare ribs, as they add a sweet and tangy flavour profile. Try coating chicken with a mix of passionfruit pulp, oil, ginger and garlic before roasting.
• Add passionfruit to a cheese platter in place of quince paste for a touch of sweetness.
• Add passionfruit to classic baked desserts for a fragrant twist. Mix into tarts, pudding, slices or icing, or drizzle over cheesecake or pavlova.
• Add passionfruit to your morning smoothie or on top of your morning porridge for a fibre boost.
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