MEET THE JAMAICAN DANDELION: WORLD REKNOWN CASSIA/SENNA COFFEE

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MY INTRODUCTION TO CASSIA: SENNA COFFEE

When I was a little girl – about four years old, I used to get the Jamaican dandelion plant confused with Jerusalem peas all the time. You see, the leaves and bean pods appeared to have very similar features, though they are not related. Fortunately for me, my grandmother was there to teach me the differences between and these and many other plants around our home. She also taught me their benefits and uses and her garden is still home to many cassia senna coffee plants to this day. In fact, the images in this article were taken in her garden and I’m delighted to share them and the knowledge I’ve gained concerning these golden treasures with you.

 

JAMAICAN DANDELION: ONE OF THE RAREST AND MOST DESIRED SUPERFOODS

Long before my dynasty, cassia and her more than six hundred species have been used as natural medicine – her roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds employed to remedy ailments around the world. The Jamaican dandelion is one to be marveled at though. It’s been lauded as one treasure to have all useful parts. The leaves, stems, seeds and flowers are used traditionally in the kitchen, in therapy, and for a host of medicinal purposes.

 

CASSIA SENNA USES & BENEFITS

The senna coffee seeds are ground and brewed into a beverage that’s reminiscent of coffee with a sweeter flavor and no harmful side-effects. This brew gives hard-working Jamaicans a boost in energy as they start their day and has been used to quell asthma as well. The gorgeous showers of golden flowers are soothing to the senses in more ways than one. An infusion from the blooms has been used to treat bronchitis. The roots are considered a diuretic. In fact, all parts of the lovely plant have been used to treat fevers, menstrual problems, tuberculosis, anemia, liver complaints, urinary tract disorders, edema and as a tonic for general weakness and illness. The leaves can also be used topically to reduce inflammation, soothe burning and to expel skin disorders, wounds, skin fungus, parasitic skin diseases, abscesses, and as a topical analgesic herb.

 

PLANTING CASSIA/SENNA

Jamaican dandelion plants average six to eight feet. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that they love warmer climatic conditions. Be sure to choose a home that allows your plants lots of sunlight. They can’t possibly have too much of that. Plant your cassia senna coffee in rich, loamy soil. If you’ve read any of my articles then you know my favorite recommendation. Mix sand, sawdust, humus and manure evenly and plant your senna coffee seeds half an inch deep. You’ll have sprouts within two weeks – often within as little as five days.

 

CARE

One of the best qualities about this plant that makes it so desirable is that it doesn’t require very much attention to thrive once the ideal conditions exist. There is no pruning, cutting, staking, training, guiding or repotting involved. Simply provide water and watch it grow into an elegant work of art, sprouting sprays of gold from the stems. The flowers promise a generous giving of skinny, long, green pods that gradually turn brown as seeds mature. All of this happens in under six months! Now you can harvest seeds and enjoy.

JAMAICAN MORINGA: WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERFOOD

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INTRODUCTION TO JAMAICAN MORINGA

The Jamaican moringa, merengeh, merengue, drumstick tree, ben oil tree, or benzoil tree is a special plant. The rest of the world seems to carry the perception that moringa is medicine but that’s not entirely true. Yes, moringa is overflowing with a host of medicinal properties but it’s simply good, delectable food!

 

Graceful trees of tender branches laden with clusters of relatively small, green leaves sway in the Jamaican breeze. They’re peppered with gorgeous pearlesque fountains for blooms. These blooms are followed by long seed pods, reminiscent of drumsticks (hence the name drumstick tree, and the cycle continues. I, for one, can think of several tropical trees that can be admired and should be obtained solely for their ornamental value, so what makes the moringa plant so special that the whole world wants a taste of it?

 

MORINGA & JAMAICAN CULTURE

Jamaicans refer to the moringa plant as merengeh. I’ve also heard other West Indians use the name merengeh. Believe it or not, it isn’t something that was widely cultivated when I was a child. The thing just grew wild. This may seem strange to some of you but understand that Jamaica isn’t deemed the “land of wood and water” for no reason. Wild, uncultivated and flourishing fruit trees and other edibles rise up in abundance throughout the island and bear witness to several generations of people. In fact, the land is so rich, you could go out into the forest on any given day you felt idle with nothing but your machete and a crocus bag (fine bag) in hand. You’re guaranteed to return home with an abundance of exotic foods cared for by only God and mother nature. The merengeh was among often among them.

 

MORINGA: MY JOURNEY TO DISCOVERY

My uncle would go up into the mountain to his farm and pass by our house on his way home with a bag full of moringa seeds just for me! If they were tender they were like sweet peanuts without the aftertaste. If they were mature, the flavor was much the same but they were better enjoyed by chewing and discarding the fiber afterward.

The first time I tried moringa leaves I was walking by a tree I’d passed hundreds of times. It grew by the side of the road about a quarter of a mile from where our family went to fellowship. I’m not sure why my interest was piqued on this particular day. I picked a few leaves and gingerly bit down on them. I was expecting something bitter but was delighted to discover something reminiscent of tender, baby spinach and arugula leaves with a hint of almond. The leaves were delicious and so began my present addiction to fresh moringa leaves.

 

MERENGEH: THE REAL MIRACLE PLANT

I believe moringa was created close to the heart of The Garden of Eden as that would explain why this one plant embodies such perfection. By the end of this article you’ll share my perspective. It’s not only good for you but delicious! What part of the plant is good for consumption? All of it! Yes, you read that right – all of it is edible: roots, shoots, leaves, and flowers.

 

The flowers and leaves make excellent substitutes in salads that call for ingredients like leafy greens or cucumbers. Moringa leaves carry an unmatched flavor. It’s like having greens with a nutty twist in one package. The pearlesque flowers taste a lot like sweet cucumbers. Careful – m you may become addicted but even if you do, that’s not a problem. Moringa is not only wholesome but nutrient dense in ways that astound scientists and researchers worldwide.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF MORINGA

Merengeh is very rich in healthy antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds. Antioxidants are compounds that act against free radicals in our bodies. High levels of free radicals cause oxidative stress, which may contribute to chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So far, scientists have only investigated a fraction of the many reputed health benefits but I’ve always had my grandparents to teach me what they are now discovering.

 

Moringa leaves are a great source of protein, vitamin B6, riboflavin, vitamin C, iron, vitamin A, magnesium. With moringa, you’ll see improved energy levels and vision, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Moringa leaves, pods and seeds have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can even protect against arsenic toxicity. Moringa leaves are also highly nutritious, and should be particularly beneficial for people who are lacking in essential nutrients.

 

MERENGEH: USES

Moringa’s flavors are complimentary to a wide range of dishes. Don’t hesitate to incorporate different parts of the plant in your meals, especially the leaves. Add moringa to soups, sauces, salads, juices, dips, stir-fry, wraps, chips and so much more. You can utilize flowers, leaves and stem shoots for garnishing as well. Merengeh is also used in poultices and consumed in capsulated form for its’ many medicinal properties. Moringa leaf extract may also be used as a food preservative. It increases the shelf life of meat by reducing oxidation

 

Considering the plant is a tropical, you’ll be glad to have moringa in your landscape if you’re close to the equator. A mature merengeh plant is gloriously appealing to the eye which makes it a marvelous ornamental. If you’re training your moringa plant as a bonsai, you’ll be happy to learn that this works in your favor. When the roots of the merengeh plant are restricted, the plant produces an even greater profusion of flower showers.

 

GROWING MERENGEH

Moringa loves warmth. 75° F is paradise for these tropical beauties. Ensure you select mature seeds, preferably from pods that have dried on the plant. Plant your moringa seeds in rich, loamy soil with good drainage. I like to mix some ash, sawdust and cow manure into my soil. Water liberally and plant your seeds an inch deep and at least fifteen feet apart. If you’re planting your moringa in a pot, ensure your pot is at least two feet deep and two feet across with proper drainage.

 

Germination usually occurs within 10 days and the plants grow very quickly. You’ll be able to harvest fresh moringa seeds for your dishes within two years. How cool is that? – Your own renewable source of the world’s richest plant at your fingertips!

 

MORINGA NOW!

If you’re working in a smaller space, you can consider having a moringa bonsai. Training these plants are really easy. You can see some of our instructional YouTube videos on training plants. If you’re one of those people who generally have difficulty getting seeds to germinate, we’ve thought of a solution to that too. You can find mature moringa plants here. You’ll be able to begin harvesting leaves in a matter of days. We’ve received reviews with incredible testimonials of improved health within days of meeting moringa. I’m sure your experience will be similar. Feel free to share your story with Jamaica’s merengeh with us! We enjoy your testimonials and ideas.

AMAZING CEREUS – SECRETS OF THE OTHER MOONFLOWER PERUVIAN APPLE CACTUS

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The Peruvian apple cactus fruit bears very similar properties to another superfood – its relative, the dragon fruit. They are both known by the names pitaya and moonflower though the Peruvian apple is also called Olala in Peru. Have you ever had a dragon fruit? Good, isn’t it? … and that’s an understatement. It’s amazing! If you haven’t had one you are certainly missing out. If you have and are as in love with it as my family is, then you ought to meet the Peruvian apple.

WHAT IS A SUPERFOOD
Essentially, a superfood is one that’s extremely nutrient-rich; one that aids in the preservation of or restoration of good health when consumed. They’re basically nature’s medicine except they usually don’t carry an unpleasant taste which is unlike most of the medicines my mother (a nurse) introduced me to as a child. If a food that was entirely good to your body was appealing to the eyes, wonderfully fragrant and deliciously refreshing and satisfying all in one, wouldn’t you want to have it? Well, there are quite a few foods that carry these properties and the Peruvian apple is one of them.

What most of us may not be aware of is that most of the Peruvian apple is the fruit of a cacti known scientifically as cereus. Most ornamental cactus plants on which we heap praises and adoration for their uniquely alluring blooms and strong fragrance after a sprinkling of rain or dew, bear fruit that are both pleasing to the tongue and nourishing to your body. Olala is no exception.

Cereus cactus are some of the easiest plants to grow. It is a columnar cactus producing tall, four to eight-lobed columns that average nine inches at their widest point in a mature plant grown in the wild. Potted, household columns may average six inches across. They’re relatively easy to work with because they produce much fewer spines than most of their relatives like opuntia and trichocereus varieties. Additionally, the spines are gathered to joints along the columns that are usually between one and three inches apart, giving you plenty of opportunity to avoid contact with them. Nonetheless I try to always use my gloves when pruning, treating, or harvesting our fruit.

Now, understand that while it is a cactus and can survive long periods of extreme neglect and without water, it is not ideal to suffer your cereus plants to prolonged periods without some love. Mine are happiest in rich soil with proper drainage. Mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice gorgeous, magnificent, white blooms of pearlesque petals dipped in gold, forming all over your cactus. If you’re excited about enjoying that bit, I’m sorry to say you may not unless you are a nocturnal creature. The cereus fruit is one of a group of fruiting cactus plants more commonly called moonflower. It carries that name for a reason – the blooms open up at dusk and stay open through the night. This poses a challenge for pollination as nocturnal winged creatures tend to gravitate toward light sources and we cannot have fruit without pollination so what do we do? I suggest moving your Peruvian apple pot under a lamp post or any bright source of light. You can also course some string lights around your plant to attract pollinators. Be sure to lay them carefully so as not to disturb your flowers and fruit. You can also pollinate them by hand.

Now I won’t give you an exact time within which to start looking for blooms because climatic conditions and treatment bear great influence on how soon your cereus begins to flower. I can personally attest to two-foot plants fruiting in six to eighteen months. As you may know, we were living in New York when Exotic Secrets was born. I’ve shared the story several times over but if you haven’t heard it yet and would like to, you can find it here. It was while living in New York that I grew our first Peruvian apple and they took about nine months to flower Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within two months of receipt though that tends to happen in more tropical regions.

Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that are spine-free and completely smooth. The skin will slowly change from green to pink, yellow, violet or red when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors listed above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the Peruvian apple experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

Fortunately, the cereus only has a few spines along the edges of the columns of the plant. There are none on the fruit themselves so you can remove and store your gloves immediately after harvesting. Now comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of seeds reminiscent of the kiwi seeds’ faultless crunch! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly. Sometimes, the ripe fruit might even split open on the plant, especially if they are well watered.

Don’t underestimate your Peruvian apple cactus fruit. Olala is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. Peruvian apple cactus fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of olala fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much of the fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides pitaya) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in Peruvian apples, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy this moonflower fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as I have!

MYRTILLOCACTUS – WONDERS OF THE BLUEBERRY CACTUS

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There is very little information published about this cactus when you consider what’s accessible on other columnar types. Blueberry cactus? What does that mean exactly? The myrtillocactus is a columnar type of full, thick, bright-green columns that carry very few, short spines. It is not among the most craved or even familiar of the fruit-bearing cacti as most owners aren’t actually aware of the fact that the little dark beads that follow the pretty blooms are actually edible, good for your body and a treat to the palate. However, it is a showstopper and a great conversation piece to have in your arsenal.

I had just started my cactus collection years ago when I first learnt of a cactus plant that produces fruit reminiscent of blueberries along the column. It fascinated me and I had to have it. We were still in New York at the time so my garden was indoors 80% of the time. My plant was just a baby no more than four inches tall. Yet, I planted it in a ginormous pot and gave it a mix of compost, humus, sawdust, sand and cow manure. Crazy, huh? All this work for a four-inch plant… Well, it turns out I did the right thing. Like your fish in a tank, your plants will grow as to be as big as the container you provide for them allows. If the plant roots are restricted, it triggers the reproductive process in the plant which is something to consider if you’re interested in having a profusion of blooms along your columns in a smaller space. Your blueberry cactus can thrive on neglect like most cacti but try not to leave your plant loveless for too long. Allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Depending on your climatic conditions your myrtillocactus plants may bloom within a year if you started with a cutting from a mature plant. The blooms appear as little pear-like blossoms averaging three inches across along the edges of the plant going all around and down the columns. You’ll get to enjoy them for days on end before they are followed by the little berry-like fruit that change from green to blue-green to a deep, midnight plum color when ripe. Now comes harvesttime!
I like to think that the possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

Fortunately, the myrtillocactus only has a few spines along the stems of the plant. There are none on the fruit themselves so you can remove and store your gloves immediately after harvesting. Now comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a normal blueberry with darker skin! The easiest way to enjoy it is to carefully pluck your berry-like fruit from their place along the edge of the column. They separate from the plant almost effortlessly.

Don’t underestimate your myrtillocactus. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. Myrtillocactus blueberry-fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of a host of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals like Vitamins C, E, A and B complex vitamins, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and so much more that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other diseases. Carotene is another component of your myrtillocactus fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors. They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. Talk with your caregiver and health care providers about the foods you’d like to enjoy during your pregnancy. My doctor allowed me to eat as much cactus fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides the fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in the blueberry cactus fruit so there is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy it. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as we have!

OPUNTIA & HER DELICIOUSLY WONDERFUL HEALING PROPERTIES – MEET THE PRICKLY PEAR

MY EXOTIC SECRETS SPINELESS OPUNTIA PRICKLY PEAR FLOWER
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Long before the dragon fruit craze, MY EXOTIC SECRETS SPINELESS OPUNTIA PRICKLY PEAR FRUITMexico brought us the prickly pear. I can understand why it may not seem the most attractive basket on display at the farmer’s market. It had a weird-colored skin that’s either a really dark green or burgundy – neither of which engender refreshing thoughts. It also lacks that lustrous sheen fresh fruit generally boasts but do not discredit or underestimate its merit.

The prickly pear is one superfood that’s powerful and refreshing! Moreover, its flavor is reminiscent of what a fruit would taste like if a watermelon got a starapple/caimet (Chrysophyllum caimito) pregnant. It’s divine but getting to the good stuff is like an adventure through the jungle. First, you’ve got to know how to conquer the spines and glochids, then break open the soft skin to maneuver your way around the hundreds of hard seeds before you get to Prickly Pear Peak. We’ll explore all of those avenues and more in this article. We’ll also discover all the ways it’ll be worth it when you learn of the health benefits these guys have to offer. Let’s dive in!

 

WHAT IS A SUPERFOOD
Essentially, a superfood is one that’s extremely nutrient-rich; one that aids in the preservation of or restoration of good health when consumed. They’re basically nature’s medicine except they usually don’t carry an unpleasant taste which is unlike most of the medicines my mother (a nurse) introduced me to as a child. If a food that was entirely good to your body was appealing to the eyes, wonderfully fragrant and deliciously refreshing and satisfying all in one, wouldn’t you want to have it? Well, there are quite a few foods that carry these properties and the prickly pear is one of them.

Prickly pear or opuntia cactus are some of the easiest plants to grow. They are fast-growing cactus of pads on pads that root very easily and thrive on neglect whether outdoors in your landscape, I the wild or potted in a window. Admittedly, they’re not as easy to work with as the Peruvian apple or hylocereus groups because they produce much more spines than most of those relatives but they’re all quite rewarding. Additionally, the spines are generously scattered all about the columns so this plant does not intend to make harvesting easy but we’ve found ways around that which we’ll expound on a little later on.

Now, I’ve encouraged you in previous articles on fruit-bearing cacti not to allow your plants to go without some love and attention for very long periods of you intend to get a strong yield – though we know cacti can survive eons without care. Opuntia is different. It matters not if you plant it on fertile ground or stone or if you give it plenty water or just a little. Prickly pear will shower you with gorgeous, mesmerizing blooms and almost all of them will be followed by the delicious fruit. I’ve seen them thrive on rocks, sand, loam and humus. I like to mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice magnificent flowers forming all over your cactus. Depending on the variety these could be red, orange, peach, yellow, gold, cream, pink, or white.

Here is where the prickly pear also has an advantage over their more pliable relatives like Peruvian apples and dragon fruit which carry little to no spines or glochids by comparison. The cacti mentioned above flower at night so you may not get to enjoy the beautiful blooms but the prickly p

ear is different. Flowers open up at all hours of the day and there is usually a profusion of them at a time. This completely nullifies your pollination budget as there is no added pressure to provide lighting while blooms are open to attract natures nocturnal pollinators. Your daytime winged creatures will serve the purpose just fine.

MY EXOTIC SECRETS SPINELESS OPUNTIA PRICKLY PEAR PLANTThere is also a spineless variety of opuntia that bears fruit with no spines and very few glochids which makes handling very easy. In my opinion, it’s even more fun to grow and easy enough for you to enjoy caring for if you have children in your household. If you do have a

spineless opuntia in your home, particularly indoors, you may want to employ some simple changes to the environment to induce pollination like a fan for example.

You can start looking for blooms within six to eighteen months depending on your climatic conditions. Treatment also bears great influence on how soon your prickly pear cactus begins to flower. I can personally attest to plants fruiting in six to eighteen months. Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within three months of receipt and that tends to happen in more tropical regions. Our first was in New York and it took almost twelve months to flower although it was a very young plant. Your results may vary.

Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that can be as spiny as the pads. The skin will slowly change from green to dark-green or burgundy when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors noted above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the prickly pear experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

MY EXOTIC SECRETS SPINELESS OPUNTIA PRICKLY PEAR FRUIT CUTAfter picking your fruit – while still wearing your gloves – use a knife or garden shears to remove all spines and glochids then set your fruit aside. I like to lay out a few sheets of old newspapers or magazines before I get started so those pesky bits will fall onto them and cleanup will be easy afterward. When you’ve folded and discarded your collection of thorns and glochids, you can carefully remove your gloves and store them. Now, all that’s left is to enjoy your fruit.

Here comes the fun part! The fruit is very juicy but extremely seedy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of much harder seeds! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly. You can blend your pulp with water (I like to add ginger and lime or passion fruit pulp). You can strain off the pulp and what you do with your prickly pear juice from here is up to you. Experiment and enjoy!

Don’t underestimate your opuntia fruit. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads, teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. The cactus fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of several antioxidants, vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, decrease the risk of diabetes, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, stimulate bone growth, strengthen blood vessels, defend against bacteria and fungi, eliminate inflammation throughout the body and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol! Prickly pear can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation and can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of opuntia fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much of fruit from cactus as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides cactus fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in the fruits, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy this opuntia cactus fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as I have.MY EXOTIC SECRETS SPINELESS OPUNTIA PRICKLY PEAR FLOWER

GET TO KNOW YOUR MOONFLOWER CACTUS – TRICHOCEREUS

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If you’ve read our articles on the Peruvian Apple cactus and the Opuntia/Prickly pear cactus then much of this is going to sound familiar as you’ll find most edible types of fruit-bearing cacti share many properties. I believe trichocereus is certainly one of the more noteworthy groups that deserve some in-depth exploration.

What most of us may not be aware of is that most of the trichocereus cactus bears edible and delicious fruit. Most ornamental cactus plants on which we heap praises and adoration for their uniquely alluring blooms and strong fragrance after a sprinkling of rain or dew, bear fruit that are both pleasing to the tongue and nourishing to your body. Trichocereus is no exception.

Trichocereus cactus are some of the easiest plants to grow. It is a columnar cactus producing tall, multi-lobed columns that average nine inches at their widest point in a mature plant grown in the wild. Potted, household columns may average six inches across. Admittedly, they’re not as easy to work with as the Peruvian apple or hylocereus groups because they produce much more spines than most of those relatives but they’re all quite rewarding. Additionally, the spines are generously scattered all about the columns so this plant does not intend to make harvesting easy but we’ve found ways around that which we’ll expound on a little later on.

Now, understand that while it is a cactus and can survive long periods of extreme neglect and without water, it is not ideal to suffer your trichocereus plants to prolonged periods without some love. Mine are happiest in rich soil with proper drainage. Mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice gorgeous, magnificent, white blooms of pearlesque petals dipped in gold, forming all over your cactus. If you’re excited about enjoying that bit, I’m sorry to say you may not unless you are a nocturnal creature. The trichocereus fruit is one of a group of fruiting cactus plants more commonly called moonflower. It carries that name for a reason – the blooms open up at dusk and stay open through the night. This poses a challenge for pollination as nocturnal winged creatures tend to gravitate toward light sources and we cannot have fruit without pollination so what do we do? I suggest moving your trichocereus pot under a lamp post or any bright source of light. You can also course some string lights around your plant to attract pollinators. Be sure to lay them carefully so as not to disturb your flowers and fruit. You can also pollinate them by hand. If you intend to try that, always wear your thick, rubber gloves.

You can start looking for blooms within six to eighteen months depending on your climatic conditions. Treatment also bears great influence on how soon your thrichocereus begins to flower. I can personally attest to two-foot plants fruiting in six to eighteen months. Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within six months of receipt and that tends to happen in more tropical regions. Our first was in New York and it took almost two years to flower although it was a very young plant. Your results may vary.

Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that are spine-free and completely smooth. The skin will slowly change from green to dark-green, yellow, violet or red when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors listed above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the trichocereus experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

After picking your fruit – while still wearing your gloves – use a knife or garden shears to remove all spines and glochids then set your fruit aside. I like to lay out a few sheets of old newspapers or magazines before I get started so those pesky bits will fall onto them and cleanup will be easy afterward. When you’ve folded and discarded your collection of thorns and glochids, you can carefully remove your gloves and store them. Now, all that’s left is to enjoy your fruit.

Here comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of seeds reminiscent of the kiwi seeds’ faultless crunch! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly. Sometimes, the ripe fruit might even split open on the plant, especially if they are well watered.

Don’t underestimate your trichocereus fruit. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. The cactus fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of trichocereus fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much of the fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides cactus fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in the fruits, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy this moonflower fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as as I did.

POWERFUL SUPERFOOD HYLOCEREUS – PITAYA MOONFLOWER DRAGON FRUIT WONDERS UNVEILED

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In the past decade, you may have noticed that the North American interest in dragon fruit has increased significantly and it is now being included in a short list of the world’s rarest superfoods. Why is that? I have a few ideas. Let’s get to know the dragon fruit.

 

 

WHAT IS A SUPERFOOD?

Essentially, a superfood is one that’s extremely nutrient-rich; one that aids in the preservation of or restoration of good health when consumed. They’re basically nature’s medicine except they usually don’t carry an unpleasant taste which is unlike most of the medicines my mother (a nurse) introduced me to as a child. If a food that was entirely good to your body was appealing to the eyes, wonderfully fragrant and deliciously refreshing and satisfying all in one, wouldn’t you want to have it? Well, there are quite a few foods that carry these properties and the dragon fruit is one of them.

WHAT IS A DRAGON FRUIT ANYWAY?

What most of us may not be aware of is that the pitahaya is the fruit of a cacti known scientifically as hylocereus. Most ornamental cactus plants on which we heap praises and adoration for their uniquely alluring blooms and strong fragrance after a sprinkling of rain or dew, bear fruit that are both pleasing to the tongue and nourishing to your body. The dragon fruit is no exception.

Hylocereus cactus are some of the more pliable plants to grow. They produce long triangular stems that are usually two to three inches across. The plant usually requires the support of a beam, tree trunk, or post. It is considered more pliable and easier to wrk with than your average cactus because it produces much fewer spines than most of its’ relatives like opuntia and trichocereus varieties. Additionally, the spines are gathered to joints along the stems that are usually between one and three inches apart, giving you plenty of opportunity to avoid contact with them. Nonetheless I try to always use my gloves when pruning, treating, training or harvesting our dragon fruit. Let’s revisit that training subject. Training your cactus is critical to the success of your yield. If the concept or idea of training is foreign to you, you can learn more here.

CARE

Now, understand that while it is a cactus and can survive long periods of extreme neglect and without water, it is not ideal to suffer your dragon fruit plants to prolonged periods without some love. Mine are happiest in rich soil with proper drainage. Mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice gorgeous, magnificent, white blooms of pearlesque petals forming all over your cactus. If you’re excited about enjoying that bit, I’m sorry to say you may not unless you are a nocturnal creature. The dragon fruit is one of a group of fruiting cactus plants more commonly called moonflower. It carries that name for a reason – the blooms open up at dusk and stay open through the night. This poses a challenge for pollination as nocturnal winged creatures tend to gravitate toward light sources and we cannot have fruit without pollination so what do we do? I suggest moving your dragon fruit pot under a lamp post or any bright source of light. You can also course some string lights around your plant to attract pollinators. Be sure to lay them carefully so as not to disturb your flowers and fruit. You can also pollinate them by hand.

 

HARVEST

Now I won’t give you an exact time within which to start looking for blooms because climatic conditions and treatment bear great influence on how soon your pitahaya begins to flower. I can personally attest to eight-inch cuttings fruiting in six to eighteen months. As you may know, we were living in New York when Exotic Secrets was born. I’ve shared the story several times over but if you haven’t heard it yet and would like to, you can find it here. It was while living in New York that I sought out and obtained my first dragon fruit cuttings – about two dozen of them – f both red and white varieties. I started growing those and they took about eighteen months to flower though by that time the plants had already begun taking over the indoor garden. They grew so fast, even throughout the winter! Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within six months of receipt though that tends to happen in more tropical regions. What I can tell you is this: if you love your plants your hylocereus will flower in its own time and it will be beautiful. Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that are spine-free. The skin will slowly change from green to pink, yellow or red when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors listed above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the pitahaya experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and Peruvian apple. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

Fortunately, the dragon fruit only has a few spines along the stems of the plant. There are none on the fruit themselves so you can remove and store your gloves immediately after harvesting. Now comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of seeds reminiscent of the kiwi seeds’ faultless crunch! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your dragon fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly.

USES & BENEFITS

Don’t underestimate your hylocereus. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. Dragon fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. Dragon fruit are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of dragon fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much dragon fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides dragon fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in dragon fruit, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something ot enjoy dragon fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all god for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as I have.

God bless you! If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to share them with us. We love when you share your experiences with us! Enjoy!

CACAO: THE TRUTH ABOUT CHOCOLATE

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Aaaahhhh chocolate! It’s one of my

favorite subjects because we’ve had a pretty interesting relationship – chocolate and I – so where do I begin? Jamaicans have a proverb that goes,"cow neva kno di yussa ‘im tail til butcha chappi ahf"which, when translated, means"the cow is never aware of the purpose of it’s tail until the butcher chops it off."It’s basically a warning to enjoy and appreciate the little things in our lives; search for the good, beneficial qualities in the objects, resources and people we have access to that we can so easily abhor sometimes. There may be a day when you no longer have it and you wouldn’t want to wait for that unfortunate day to begin to show an understanding of the object’s purpose and and appreciate what you no longer have. That’s sort of what happened with chocolate and I.
Unfortunately, that day did come for me. It was the day I moved to New York in mid-September. What was I thinking? A young, tropical flower found herself living on the Hudson River at the cusp of Fall overnight. I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous articles how horrifying it was so we won’t be rehashing the nightmare of the culture and climate shock this time around. Today, we’re going to explore one of the greatest treasures that sat right under my nose throughout my childhood and I didn’t even really know it – CHOCOLATE!

Now, don’t get me wrong. As a child, I took advantage of the cacao fruit in my own way. The skin is referred to as a shell because it’s just so hard and thick. The average man cannot break it with his bare hands unless he slams it against a hard surface. Don’t you find it to be that way with most of natures’ incredible treasures – the sweeter and more addictive the fruit inside, the harder the shell/skin? Well, I think there’s merit to that statement and the cacao fruit is a great example.

I (and most of my cousins) spent most of my breaks from school at my grandparents’ house or the family home. Needless to say, our summers and Christmases were always eventful and memorable. We were free to visit any of the neighbors along our street so long as we didn’t venture too far from the home. The community was one family that way. One of these neighbors had a couple magnificent cacao trees right on the edge of the fence that bordered their front-yard. In fact, it was the house next door! They also had a giant Jamaican almond tree on the other side of the front-yard that gave shade to the whole area when you needed a cool-down from the hot Jamaican climate but I digress. (That’s a whole other article right there.) We had the neighbors permission to pick and eat to our heart’s content. Let me confess that my heart was always content when mom came to pick me up at the end of Summer.
If you’ve never enjoyed the process of freeing some cocoa seeds from that deliciously sweet, creamy-white, juicy pulp in which they’re encased then you haven’t really tasted unadulterated decadence! Still, the saddest thing about growing up oblivious to the fact that you’re surrounded by a vast collection of natural treasures is that you never really get to appreciate them until you no longer have access. As children, we would eat the fruit but discard the seeds. They’d disappear into the grass, soon to be forgotten under treading, playful feet.
Except for cocoa farmers themselves, the average countryman didn’t save his cacao seeds for fermentation when I was growing up. We would purchase from the market, natural chocolate sticks to be grated and brewed with fresh, whole milk and nutmeg for morning cups of hot chocolate that were simply unmatched. We consumed it because we liked it. I mean, what’s not to like? However, I never fully understood the benefits of cacao until I became an adult and did my own research on the plant and I’m excited to share some of that knowledge with you!

ALLIUM VINEALE: CROW GARLIC UNVEILED

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WHAT IS AN ALLIUM, YOU ASK?

Allium is tALLIUM VINEALE MY EXOTIC SECRETS CROW GARLIChe family to which scallion, onion, chives (onion and garlic), ramsons, shallots and leeks belong. They’re short, bulbous plants the yield hollow, straight leaves that give the plants a grass-like appearance. If left to flower they also produce gorgeous pom-poms of varying colors that are also fragrant and often reminiscent of bachelor buttons which makes them excellent ornamentals. In some varieties, flowers emerge from these pompoms in a chandelier-like fashion. They’re gorgeous!  They’re not invasive and they thrive in small spaces so they’re good choices for gardens with a small bed, pot or edging. Allium also serve a purpose in the garden. They’re natural insect and pest repellent because of their strong garlic or onion scent.

 

ALLIUM IN THE JAMAICAN HOME

Edible alliums are essential to Jamaican cuisine. We love the flavors they emit. They’re unique and prized and cannot be mimicked by any other family known to mankind. Mark my words, there isn’t a Jamaican kitchen without scallions, garlic or onions at the ready. Garlic chives are especially commonly cultivated among Jamaican farmers. Our people have creative ways of incorporating garlic in dishes that will caress your taste buds and blow your mind! However, the chives we’re about to dissect is not common in Jamaica. Crow garlic chives (also known as wild onion) bear similar leaves to the garlic and purple onion chives most of us are familiar with. If you’re a plant lover with a 2-inch pot, and a tiny square box for an apartment, this plant is perfect for you!

 

ALLIUM CANADENSE MEADOW CANADIAN GARLIC MY EXOTIC SECRETS

ALLIUM VINEALE: USES

Crow garlic is very similar to allium canadense with a few exceptions. Like most allium, crow garlic plants are easy to grow, low maintenance, high yielding plants that thrive in a tight space and are easy to control and contain. They serve several purposes. The plants themselves don’t grow to be taller than about 18 inches. They are interesting to look at with tall, thin, straight, vivid green leaves and gorgeous, violet to plum-colored pompoms. These pompoms full of seeds, open up to release fragrant bright-green tendrils. The whole ensemble averages an inch in diameter. They’re beautiful ornamentals and you don’t have to worry about pests being interested in eating down your chives. Because of their strong garlic aroma, the plants are natural insect and pest repellents. You can use your crow garlic or any edible allium to border your garden to deter pests and critters. We use them to border the perimeter of our greenhouse along with allium canadense (meadow onion). To date, we haven’t had any visits from critters with sticky fingers.

 

CULLINARY USES OF CROW GARLIC

ALLIUM VINEALE MY EXOTIC SECRETS CROW GARLIC

The last and most obvious of the noteworthy uses for this versatile plant is culinary. The flavor can make such a big difference is your soups, salads,

meats, fish, rice, pasta, sandwich, sauces, biscuit, buns, bread and other dishes. You can blend them into your sauces, especially when preparing fish and meats. Try this easy meat marinade recipe with a dash of Caribbean flavor

that we’ve shared with you. If you think that’s amazing, wait until you know how beneficial this can be for your body! Try to experiment with the flavors of all the allium in your garden by swapping some of the more common onion varieties out in your recipes.

 

ALLIUM: HEALTH BENEFITS

If you’re one of those expecting mothers who think you need to be chowing on oranges and pills to ensure adequate intake of folate, firstly congratulations! Secondly, allium plants are excellent sources of natural folic acid. 100g of fresh leaves is just 30 calories! That 30 calories is jam packed with many flavonoid antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals like pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, carotenes, zeaxanthin, lutein, and so much more. Together, they work to strengthen the immune system and protect the body from different types of cancer.

 

ALLIUM PROTECTS YOUR HEART & BRAIN

Allicin decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide and brings a reduction in the total blood pressure. It inhibits platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels which helps decrease an overall risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases, and stroke. It reduces the production of bad cholesterol and makes your liver very happy. They’re also found to have strong antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

 

ALLIUM & BONE HEALTH

 

Just 70 grams of allium provides the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K, which has a potential role in bone health by ALLIUM VINEALE MY EXOTIC SECRETS CROW GARLICpromoting bone formation and strengthening activity. Adequate vitamin K levels in the diet help limit neuronal damage in the brain which shows an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Handling allium in general, may result in mild irritation to skin, mucosa, and eyes but to a greater extent with other members like an actual onion. A gas known as allyl sulfide is released while chopping or slicing them. As always, you’re encouraged to experiment with your dishes and enjoy the ride. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions below.

Introduction to the Mild Red-Pulp Passiflora Caerulea Passionfruit

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This golden variety shares a host of similarities with the much larger passiflora edulis. The pulp itself is – like all passionfruit – juicy. It’s fat free, cholesterol free, low in calories and is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron. It can improve eyesight, digestion, skin health, circulation, bone mineral health, energy, sleeplessness, asthma, high blood pressure and can even prevent the growth of cancer in the body. Unlike the passiflora edulis varieties, the pulp is bright crimson with a milder, less tangy flavor which more people tend to find favorable when eating out of hand.

Another interesting fact about the passiflora caerulea is that similarto the passiflora edulis, the pit of the fruit is full of a substance called pectin which acts like a gum and is an excellent replacement for starches used to thicken sauces and jams. Unlike the pulp itself, the pectin in the pit is not richly flavored so it does not affect the dish you’re making negatively. It will not affect the flavor of your sauces, stirs, dips, jams, custards or jellies. Another notable diference between this variety and the purple passionfruit is that the skin is softer, thinner and more easily broken that it seldom requires cutting but it also sometimes used for serving refreshments and appetizers, and in artistic creations.
Passionfruitflowers are some beautifully painted works of art, full of intricate details. There’s also nothing like strolling through the garden after a light rain and having the perfume of the passionfruit blossoms assail you. Use flowers in perfume oils, candles, aroma therapy, the bath, potpourri or bouquets. Still, that’s not the extent of it’s uses either. If you’re having trouble sleeping, steep a flower or two in hot water for a couple minutes and sweeten with honey or agave if you like (I wouldn’t recommend coconut sugar for this simply because the flavors don’t compliment each other in my opinion.) This brew has worked it’s charm on helping me and mine unwind an settle in for bed for a long time. The leaves and stems of the passionfruit can also be used.

…so you must think I’m cruel going on and on about how fantastic this plant is and how blessed I’ve now come to have some real passion in my life. What difference does it make if you can’t have it, right? Well, Exotic Secrets’ goal is to help you bring paradise home, even if you live in a tiny apartment in the most remote part of Alaska – it is still possible for you to maintain your tropical garden. Trust me. My first passionfruit harvest after moving away from Jamaica came to me in a one-bedroom apartment in New York and it wasn’t the only thing I harvested that year – far from it – so I can tell you firsthand that paradise is possible. If you’d like to learn more about these options, you can read our article on Taking Paradise Home. Right now, I’m going to share with you the climatic and care preference of this treasure but I do not want you to be discouraged if home is California, Florida, Maine or Norway so I hope you find clarity in the article suggested.

Now, understand that the passionfruit is a vine – a hardy one but a vine nonetheless. It loves rich, loamy soil and a tree, trellis, harbor or fence to climb on, in-between and all over! Under ideal conditions It thrives in warm conditions. The sweet spot is usually somewhere between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers at least 4 hours of direct sunlight daily. At least that’s beenmy experience.I wish I could encapsulate a sniff of the air at dawn before the sun collects the night dew and drop it here for you to sample. You’d be hooked. That said, it’s a pretty resilient plant. It can thrive in a pot with support, a hanging basket or anywhere in the landscape that offers light. It requires very little attention once established. If you’re growing in a pot, especially if it’s indoors, add a scoop of cow, or horse manure (or compost – I prefer manure) to the soil every couple months to replenish nutrients because it uses a lot. Ensure it get’s lots of water but do not leave standing water in your pot. If you’d like to see more of a profusion of blooms, it’s best to grow it in a gallon pot where the roots are more restricted but be sure to plant support in the pot as well. You can weave new growth back into the trellis you’ve planted from time to time to make it more compact. A terrific project might include training passionfruit vine up your garden gazebo.
You can experiment with using parts of this plant in your cakes, custard, ice-cream, juices, sauces, jams, jellies, dips, salads, meats, cookies, biscuits, scrubs, skin treatments, massages, teas, juices, punch, cocktails, candles, jewelry, furniture and so much more. Explore our other articles for recipe ideas and always remember to have fun!
God bless you!