A native of the central desert regions and another of Australia’s many and varied wild tomatoes, Passion Berries are a real sweet surprise.
This prickly ground cover has mid-green soft leaves, about 2cm wide and 5cm long, and are generally incurved. Small, insignificant white to lilac flowers are often hidden in its tangled mass of creeping branches.
The amazingly sweet and aromatic fruit are generally 1-1.5cm in diameter and hang in great numbers right at soil level under the plant. The fruit are ripe when creamy yellow, and taste somewhere between honey, banana, caramel and vanilla.
When the fruit fully ripen and dry, they fall off the plant, where they provide a delicacy for every small animal, bird or reptile that are attracted to the sweet fruit.
In the outback, Passion Berries have fallen foul of feral animals such as goats, donkeys, horses, cattle and camels, who can smell the ripe fruit from kilometres away. Whereas in the past emus, upon eating the fruit, did not fully digest the seed, but passed the scarified seed out with its own all organic fertilizer!
Because of the introduced grazers, with their double stomachs which fully digest the seed, Passion Berries have become rare in most of the centre. But Passion Berries have been saved by the Outback Pride Project and are now under cultivation.
Steeping them in syrup softens them and brings out the distinctive flavour.
Recipe idea: Combine 110gm brown sugar and 185ml water in a saucepan over high heat, stir to dissolve sugar, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for 3-6 mins. Remove from heat and add 50gm passionberries and set aside for an hour. Then stir in the juice of 1 lemon. Drizzle over sliced bananas, top with a dollop of sour cream.
Passionberry Fig Jam makes an excellent addition to an afternoon tea with scones!
Passionberry, Fig and Pepperberry Vinaigrette
– swish 50ml of macadamia nut oil and 50ml pepperberry infused vinegar through the remains of the Passionberry Fig Jam jar