July 7, 2015

Description

The passion fruit is a subtropical vine that grows up to 20 feet per year. Although it generally lives only 5-7 years, it becomes extremely tall, clinging to anything for support. The fruit itself is nearly round and about 1.5-3 inches wide. Its skin is smooth and waxy. Different varieties can be deep purple with white specks, to light yellow or pumpkin color. Some hybrids have been made between yellow and purple varieties yielding colors between the two.

Inside the fruit there are membranous sacs containing light orange pulpy juice. There are also hundreds of small, dark brown or black pitted seeds. The passion fruit flavor is musky, guava-like, and ranges from sweet to tart. Yellow passion fruits are usually larger than purple ones, but the pulp of the purple varieties is usually less acidic, richer in flavor, and has more juicy pulp.

The fruit on the vine will turn quickly from green to either deep purple or yellow when ripe. It will then fall to the ground. You can pick the fruits when they change color or gather them from the ground each day. When stored, passion fruits will last in the fridge about 1-2 weeks or on the counter for 1-2 days. It also freezes very well.

How to Eat Them

The first step is to pick a ripe fruit and avoid overly mature ones. Pick ones with wrinkles on the surface that are already deep purple (or yellow depending on the variety). These are the ripest and will be the sweetest. Don’t worry about minor cuts or scrapes on the skin. These are common and unless overwhelming, don’t usually hurt the quality of the fruit.

Another tip, the softer the shell, the more ripe the fruit will be.

You should also shake the passion fruit. If there’s a lot of liquid inside, it means there’s plenty to eat! It doesn’t hurt to smell it either. If you can’t smell anything, it’s probably fairly tasteless compared to others that smell tropical and sweet.

Now that you have your passion fruit, you’re ready to eat it. Cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seedy pulp. The seeds don’t need to be removed. You can eat the pulp with cream and sugar or use it in fruit salads or beverages (seeds too!). It’s also common to remove the seeds through a cheesecloth or strainer.

The juice you end up with can be sweetened or diluted with water or other juices. It tastes great with orange or pineapple. You can also boil the juice down to a syrup for use in sauce, gelatin desserts, candy, ice cream, sherbet, icing, cake filling, meringue or chiffon pie, or cocktails. The seeded pulp can be made into jelly or combined with pineapple to make jam. Frozen juice can be kept for 1 year in the freezer.

Health Benefits

Passion fruit is a great source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Good fiber can help remove cholesterol and protect the colon. Vitamin C helps the body resist flu like infections and viruses. Also, vitamin A is good for eyesight and maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. It may even help protect us from lung and oral cancers. Potassium is an important component of cells and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Recipe

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 300 mL Pouring Cream
  • 270 mL Natural Yogurt
  • 4 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 3/4 Titanium Strength Gelatine Leaves (approx. 3 3/4 tsp of powdered gelatine) softened in cold water
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • PASSION FRUIT SYRUP
  • 4 Passion Fruit, pulp only (or canned)
  • 50 gm Castor (berry) Sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • Special equipment: 150-200 ml Dariole or panna cotta moulds

Preparation:

  1. Very lighlty grease the dariole moulds with a little vegetable oil on a paper towel.
  2. Whisk the cream and yogurt together in a large bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Bring honey and vanilla seeds to a simmer in a small saucepan. Squeeze excess water from gelatine and add it to the honey -- stir to dissolve.
  4. Stir honey mixture through the yogurt mixture, then divide among four lightly greased dariole moulds. Refrigerate until set (4-5 hours - or even overnight).
  5. Make the passion fruit syrup. Combine ingredients together in a small saucepan. Simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the liquid becomes syrupy. Set aside to cool.
  6. Just before serving, dip bases of panna cotta moulds in warm water for a few seconds, turn out onto serving plates and spoon on the passion fruit syrup. Serve immediately.
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July 7, 2015

Here it is again, summer time! Looking to stay healthy and look healthy? Look no further! Avocados are a good source of dietary fiber (for digestion and absorption of nutrients), vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Avocados can be eaten raw or cooked, and can be added in to any recipes from omelets to creamy avocado pasta sauce. It is a pear-shaped fruit with a rough leathery skin, smooth oily edible flesh, and a large stone. An Avocado comes for a tropical evergreen tree. The avocado plant is native to Central America and widely cultivated elsewhere.

How do you get one to your back yard or even in your house?

Avocado Plant

It's simple! Avocado growing indoors is fun and easy. They can be grown as a household plant or grown in a container . Either way, growing an avocado plant requires patience and light, lots of light. Because of the sensitivity of the plant it is easily damaged it the temperature is too cold.

Either way, growing an avocado plant requires patience and light, lots of light. Because of the sensitivity of the plant it is easily damaged if the temperature is too cold. PlantOGram does offer cold hardy avocado fruits for those with not so green thumbs. Because when it comes to the avocado there are a lot of do's!

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May 12, 2015

PlantOGram now sells Guarana fruit trees. They come from Brazil, and the seeds contain over twice as much caffeine as coffee beans. The white fleshy fruit surrounds dark brown seeds giving the fruit the appearance of an eyeball. It is used just as we use caffeine. It is considered “generally safe” for use as a supplement by the FDA.

The caffeine in the Guarana works as a natural insecticide in the wild. It keeps away plant eating bugs. Birds can still eat the fruit and the seeds pass right through their digestive tracts. They then land in a new location which helps generate new Guarana plants.

While no scientific studies have proven other uses of Guarana, it has been used for many other things. These include weight loss, to enhance athletic ability, as a stimulant, and to reduce both mental and physical fatigue. Guarana speeds up your metabolism which aids in the fat burning process. This is how it helps one lose weight. The boost of caffeine improves memory and cognitive function by decreasing fatigue. It is commonly added to energy and weight loss products. Some also use Guarana to treat low blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome. It has also been cited to help prevent malaria and dysentery. More everyday uses of the Guarana fruit include treatment of diarrhea, fever, headache, joint pain, backache, and heat stress.

In general, to consume Guarana, a teaspoon of powder is mixed in a cup of cold water. The powder creates a reddish-brown solution. The taste is pleasant when combined with sugar and in any sugary substance, however it can be rather bitter when eaten alone.

This unique fruit is definitely something to consider growing. While it does require warm temperatures to thrive, it can be grown and kept in a container. It does best in full sun and in temperatures above 60°F. However, keeping it in a container is a great way to still be able to enjoy the Guarana fruit no matter where you live.

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May 12, 2015

As a realtor, you have clients from all different walks of life. Some may come from other countries. Some have eight kids while others live alone. Each client is unique, but each one deserves a gift after they’ve purchased their dream home. So what is that perfect gift to go with the perfect home you found them?

Well, Madison Hildebrand is one of the most recognizable faces in real estate. And he’s a big fan of PlantOGram! He thinks it’s “A great gift for realtors to send their clients.”

And he’s right. A PlantOGram tree can be appreciated by any person who receives it. First, not only are you giving them the gift of great fruit for life, you’re giving them something that will increase the value of their home. With that tree growing in their backyard, if they ever decide to sell their house, they’re going to get a bit of a boost because of it. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it can provide shade, privacy, or block any unsightly views. You’ve just upped their property value. Who do you think they’re going to call next time they move?

Also, when your clients invite friends and neighbors over to their new home, the visitors will definitely ask about the new tree and the delicious fresh fruit served. Then your clients will tell their friends all about their realtor who took the time to send them a PlantOGram. You’ve now ensured clients will come back to you in the future and increased your word of mouth advertising. And that was essentially free, because you would be sending gifts anyways. So it may as well be a fruit tree!

Madison Hildebrand founded the Malibu Life in 2006. Today a team of 10 specialists work to provide exceptional service and luxury real estate to their clients. Madison has 10 years of experience and career sales topping $250 million. Madison’s philosophy is “Spread the Love” and “You can mix business with pleasure.” Some of his passions include gardening, traveling, and hiking. Someone with this many interests and resources still takes the time to send a thoughtful gift to his clients and you should too. That gift can be a PlantOGram fruit tree.

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May 12, 2015

The Moringa Tree is a fast growing tree that yields seed pods and a feathery canopy of leaves.

The tree grows best in tropical areas. Leaves are produced even during the dry season and in times of drought. All parts of the tree are edible, however the root and root extracts may have toxic substances that if consumed could result in paralysis and fatality. The leaves are used fresh or dried and ground into a powder. The seed pods are picked while they’re still green and can be eaten fresh or cooked. The seed oil is sweet, doesn’t stick or dry, and doesn’t go rancid. The seeds are eaten green, roasted, powdered, and steeped for tea or used I curries.

The moringa has a wide array of health benefits. It is a god source of protein, vitamins, amino acids, fiber, and iron. It can act as a cardiac and circulatory stimulant. It can lower cholesterol and is a natural diuretic. It has antitumor, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antihypertensive, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It can also reduce fevers and protect your liver.

More simply, here is a list of some of the common conditions it can help treat:

Anemia

Arthritis

Asthma

Athlete’s foot

Cancer

Constipation

Dandruff

Diabetes

Diarrhea

Epilepsy

Gastritis

Gingivitis

Heart conditions

Headaches

High blood pressure

Infections

Inflammation

Intestinal ulcers

Kidney stones

Low breast milk production

Sex drive

Snake bites

Stimulate immunity

Stomach ulcers

Thyroid disorders

Warts

The anti-inflammatory effects can also influence resultant conditions like asthma and pain. The Moringa plant alkaloid resembles ephedrine and can be used in the treatment of asthma. It relaxes the bronchioles. Also, the seed kernels show promise in treating bronchial asthma. The effects of the Moringa plant on asthma are still being studied.

The leaves of the plant are used to treat headaches. They are rubbed against the temple to reduce pain. They can also stop the bleeding from a shallow cut. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can treat small cuts and insect bites. Leaf tea can treat gastric ulcers and diarrhea. It’s high iron content improves anemia. Also, it can reduce fevers, bronchitis, eye and ear infections, and inflammation of the mucus membranes.

Eating the actual fruit treats malnutrition and diarrhea. If eaten raw, the fruit can act as a de-wormer. It can treat liver and spleen problems as well as joint pain.

The seeds of the tree can treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramps, STDs, and boils. They are used as a relaxant for epilepsy. They have also been effective against skin infecting bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts from the seeds may decrease fever also.

Finally, there is one thing to watch out for regarding the moringa fruit. At one time moringa root was used as a permanent form of birth control. It prevents the fertilized egg from being able to attach to the lining of the uterine wall. Over time it can decrease fertility. If consumed while pregnant, it can cause fetal resorption or induce contractions leading to miscarriage. Therefore, it is recommended to stay away from moringa in general if pregnant.

However, moringa leaf can help breastfeeding mothers produce milk. (Remember it is the root and root bark that have antifertility effects). Moringa leaf is safe.

But root bark does have a redeeming quality. Actually, a very redeeming quality. It may help fight against post-menopausal epithelial ovarian cancer. After menopause, when fertility is no longer a concern, root bark is safe, and may fight cancer. So as long as one stays away from it during their childbearing years, go for it later in life!

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May 12, 2015

The Imbe is a small, bright orange, oblong fruit that is native to Africa. This berry has a thin skin and one large seed inside. The imbe has a very sweet, yet acidic taste. Some have likened the taste to that of an apricot.

An antibacterial component has been found in the leaves. Also, the bark and root of the Imbe tree can be used to treat meningitis, tuberculosis, and cancer. Other uses of the fruit include landscaping using imbe trees and of course eating the fruit. It can be eaten raw, crushed into a drink, seeded and dried, cooked into desserts, or fermented to make a purplish wine. Another option is to soak imbes in alcohol and mix it with syrup to make liqueur.

These trees can be grown in USDA growing zones 9 and above. They are drought tolerant, but in order for fruit to grow, water is necessary. The tree usually fruits between July and August. The fruit ripens to a bright orange in August and is gone within two weeks. The fruit is between 1.5-2 inches long and 1-2 inches in diameter. The skin is quite tender, so shipping this fruit is not practical.

The tree itself is rather slow growing, but ultimately can grow to 15-20 feet tall. However, the evergreen like tree usually has one large trunk with other thick branches stemming from it. This puts the fruit closer to the ground than if they grew off just the main trunk. Also, it gives the tree a unique appearance, making it a popular choice in landscaping. In fact, imbe trees can be found at Mozambique’s capitol and near Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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April 13, 2015

The miracle fruit is a small, bright red berry only 2-3 cm long. So how did it get such a big name? It doesn’t have a spectacular taste itself. It has a mildly sweet and tangy taste that has been likened to a cranberry. But it isn’t the taste of the fruit that warrants its name. Instead, it’s the effects the fruit has on one’s taste buds afterwards.

After eating a miracle fruit, if you eat anything acidic, it will taste incredibly sweet. This happens because of a protein called miraculin. This protein binds very strongly to sweet receptors on our tongues, however it does not activate the receptors at neutral pH. When acid is introduced, the miraculin changes shape. It then turns on the sweet receptors which creates an incredibly sweet sensation. Once the acidic food is swallowed, the miraculin returns to the inactive shape, but does remain bound to the sweet receptors for up to an hour.

Theoretically, miraculin could be used as an artificial sweetener. This idea was introduced almost 50 years ago. Despite initial success, drama and suspected foul play by the sugar industry prevented this from happening. The FDA, although previously supportive of the endeavor, declared that miraculin was an additive which meant that the berries could not be sold as a sugar substitute without further testing.

A new idea to integrate the powder into desserts has arisen, but there are problems with this too. Refrigerating and heating the miraculin cause the protein to activate, so its ability to modify one’s ability to taste would be gone by the time the food was consumed. Scientists are trying to create a heat stable form of miraculin that can be cooked with.

There has been a recent push for miraculin to take the place of sugar. Some benefits are obvious, like getting the taste of sweetness without the sugar. Sugar-free desserts could still be sugar free but without tasting sugar-free. With obesity being such a concern, this is a legitimate reason to pursue miraculin. In addition to this benefit, it could be a great discovery for diabetics since it provides sweetness with no sugar. It also can be useful for chemotherapy patients whose tastes are sometimes altered during treatment making it difficult to eat at all.

In general, some restaurants serve miracle fruits and they are at some parties. These are usually high end restaurants or parties with the sole purpose of “flavor-tripping.” Miraculin is native to West Africa, and is currently being produced and sold in Japan. It is possible to by in the US, but it is not as readily available. You can purchase your own Miracle Fruit plant from PlantOGram. It can be grown in your backyard or in a container on your patio.

In the future, if anyone were to procure enough funding, they would likely be able to convince the FDA to overturn their 1970s ruling as there is nothing dangerous about miraculin. Rather than concerns about the fruit itself, the drawback at the current time is funding.

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March 19, 2015

Fruit trees have always been very much valued in Irish culture. Apples and wild strawberries are some of the most commonly grown fruits in Ireland. Another very common fruit is the bilberry. In Ireland it is referred to as a fraughan. It is also called the blaeberry, whortleberry, winberry, and fraughan. While closely related to the blueberry, the bilberry is a different fruit. The blueberry is native to North America while the bilberry is native to Europe.

Bilberry fruits grow on low shrubs and are nearly black berries. Theybilberry produce single or paired berries on the bush rather than clusters like blueberries. The bilberry is smaller than a blueberry, has a fuller taste, and is softer and juicier. They appear nearly black with a hint of purple. The pulp is red or purple, often staining the hands, lips, and tongue of those eating the raw fruit. Bilberry extract is even used in edible ink for stamping meats.

These fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, desserts, juices, or pies. In some areas they are used to flavor crepes and liqueurs.

Another common fruit in Ireland is the sloe tree or blackthorn. The sloe tree is a large shrub or small tree that grows to about 16 feet in height. It has dark, often blackish bark and stiff spiny branches. The leaves are ovblackthornal with serrated edges. The flowers are about a half inch in diameter with five white petals. The fruit itself is just under a half inch in diameter and is black with an indigo waxy bloom. The flesh is thin with a strong astringent flavor.

The sloe is similar to a small plum. It is rather tart if eaten unless picked after the first few days of the autumn frost or frozen after harvest. However, they are suitable for preservatives and desserts. The juice is also used in liqueurs and wines.

Other uses of the sloe include providing a “cattle-proof” hedge. Because of its thorns, the shrubs stop cattle from crossing. Also, the juice of the berries can be used to dye linen a reddish color. When washed out it leaves the linen a pale blue. Blackthorn is also an excellent firewood. It burns slowly with good heat and little smoke. It can also be polished and used for tool handles and canes.

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March 19, 2015

Day 1 - Shamrock Smoothie

Makes 5 8oz. Smoothiesshamrock-smoothies-R160300-ss

  • kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 6 ounce carton key lime- or vanilla-flavored yogurt
  • 1 cup orange juice or white grape juice, well-chilled
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons rum (optional)
  • 1 - 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • Fresh kiwifruit slices

1. Place kiwi fruit and banana in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Freeze uncovered for 2 hours or until frozen.

2. In a blender, combine grapes, yogurt, orange juice, honey, rum and 1/3 of the frozen fruit. Cover and blend until nearly smooth. Gradually add remaining fruit, blending after each addition until almost smooth. Add food coloring.

3. Pour into glasses and garnish with kiwifruit slices.

Come back tomorrow for another fruit filled St. Patrick's Day recipe.

Image courtesy of http://www.recipe.com/shamrock-smoothies/

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March 19, 2015

Fruit Kabobs - Day 2

To make 5 kabobs, follow the recipe below. fruit kabobs st pattys

  • 1 green apple
  • 3 kiwis
  • 2 bananas
  • green grapes
  • wooden skewers

Add fruits to the skewers in an alternating pattern. The kids can even choose their own unique pattern. For an added bit of fun, try dipping the kabobs in cool whip with green sugar sprinkles.

image courtesy of http://fitcraftystylishandhappy.blogspot.com/2012/02/fruit-kabobs-and-dip-for-st-pattys-day.html

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