Lilikoi are ripe when their shells wrinkle.
In tropical jungles, passionfruit, aka granadilla, aka lilikoi, vines drop their yellow or purple oval fruits in the late summer, summoning wild pigs, fruitarians and gourmet chefs to a wet-footed Easter egg hunt. This latter group will use the juice to create Lilikoi Chiffon Pie, Lilikoi Vinaigrette, and bright yellow Lilikoi Sauce to drizzle onto plates on which desserts and main dishes are served.
The name passionfruit does not refer to any aphrodesiacal qualities, but to the extra-terrestrial looking flower of the same vine, which has a three pronged pistil that someone decided harkened to the Holy Trinity. The vine itself is brewed as a sedative. The fruit is rich in vitamin C.
Here’s how to extract the perfumed essence of these fruits for gastronomic purposes.
Take your freshly harvested lilikoi to a tap, rinse off any dirt or vegetable matter, and let them drain in a collander. The ones with obvious flaws (soft spots, cracks, etc.) should be set aside and opened immediately to check the viability of the contents (throw out the bad-smelling ones; eat the good-smelling ones). The others should be left at room temperature to ripen, which occurs when they wrinkle.
The lilikoi has a firm (but not brittle) shell with a shiny exterior, with many tiny small black seeds inside, each in a tiny membrane sack full of sweet, sour, fragrant juice. You can eat the pulp with a spoon, crunchy seeds and all, from the little cup of its shell.
To make juice, cut the fruit in half with a sharp serated knife and scoop the seed pulp into a blender jar. When you’ve got two cups of seed pulp, put the top on the jar and pulse the blender for a second, three times, max. You don’t want to grind the seeds; you just want to break open the membrane sacks. Pour the blended pulp through a large wire strainer into a bowl, stirring the pulp in the strainer with a wooden spoon until you have nothing but black seeds left in the strainer and pure juice in the bowl. Discard the seeds. Compost the shells.
Lilikoi Fizz: Pour a half cup of lilikoi juice into an eight ounce tumbler, and fill it the rest of the way with chilled sparkling mineral water. Sweeten to taste with stevia glycerite; stir well.