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Passion Fruit: Kitchen Basics

Passion fruitSlice a fresh passion fruit in half, place it in the palm of your hand and enjoy its juicy, slightly musky sweet-tart tropical flavor with a spoon.

Both the fruit and juice of the passion fruit combines well with other fruits and juices, especially tropical fruits. In addition to being eaten fresh, passion fruit can be used to make preserves, sauces and ice cream.

Passion fruit has a flavor reminiscent of guava. The fruit is about the size of a hen’s egg with a thick hard shell and rich gelatinous yellow-orange pulp containing soft edible seeds.

Passion fruit can be added to fruit salads and used as a topping for pavlova (meringue cake) and cheesecake and made into a fruit mousse. Cooked with sugar it can be made into thick syrup and used as a topping for shave ice or mixed with water and ice to make an ade.

Purple passion fruit and yellow passion fruit. There are two types of passion fruit. The dark purple passion fruit is perhaps the most common in subtropical regions because it is less susceptible to frost damage. It is easily grown in Hawaii, and southern Florida and California. The bright yellow variety, sometimes called golden passion fruit, is more tropical and sometimes bears a larger fruit. Both yield delicious fruit and juice. However, the purple passion fruit is preferred for fresh consumption while the yellow passion fruit is most often used for juice processing and making preserves.

The passion fruit grows on evergreen vines to 30 feet long in frost-free subtropical and tropical regions. Its yellowish-green leaves are three-lobed and deep-toothed. A single, dramatic, fragrant flower grows at each node of new growth on the vine. Each flower turns into a purple (or yellow) oval, egg-shaped fruit up to 2 inches long.

The passion fruit has a tough rind that is smooth and waxy and ranges in color from dark purple to light yellow or pumpkin colored depending upon variety. There can be as many as 250 small, hard, dark brown or black seeds in the pulp of each fruit. The fruit ripens about 80 days after pollination turning from green to deep purple (or yellow) and falls to the ground a few days after it ripens where it can be gathered.

Local Season. The peak harvest season for passion fruit is spring through late summer.

Choose. Select passion fruit that is heavy, large, and plump for its size, and wrinkled . Look for dark purple shells that are dimpled and shriveled, a sign the fruit is ripe. A smooth skinned passion fruit is not ripe. Avoid overly hard passion fruit which is underripe. Smooth-skinned fruit will ripen at room temperature within 3 to 5 days.

Amount. Ten to 12 passion fruits will yield about 1 cup (.23 litre) of pulp.

Store. Refrigerate ripe passion fruit in a plastic or paper bag for up to 2 days. Smooth-skinned passion fruit is not ripe. Ripen at room temperature, uncovered, out of direct sun, until the fruit skin dimples and darkens, then it is ripe.

Passion fruit pulp and seeds can be frozen for up to 3 months. Scoop out pulp and seeds from halved fruit; transfer to freezer containers and freeze. Whole passion fruit can also be frozen.

Prepare. Slice the fruit in half, spoon out the pulp, remove the seeds by straining in a non-aluminum sieve, pressing to extract juice.

To prepare seedless pulp: force the pulp through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon; if you heat the pulp gently with a little sugar before you strain it will cause it to release more juice. Don’t use too much heat or the flavor will be affected. More than 100 fruits will be needed to make one liter of juice.

Cook. Passion fruit is generally used fresh. It can be cooked to use for use in pastry fillings.

Serve. Passion fruit is usually served fresh.

  • Add slices to fruit salad.
  • Add dollops of pulp to fruit, poultry, or gelatin salads.
  • Serve pulp on French bread or crackers with cream cheese or Brie.
  • Cut off the top, pour cream and sugar into the cavity, mix with the pulp and eat with a spoon.
  • Serve pulp over ice cream, sherbet, yogurt, or crêpes.
  • Use to make jelly or juice.
  • Add juice to custard bases or puddings.
  • Add strained fruit purée to blended drinks.
  • Seeded fruit pulp puréed in a blender is a flavor base for sorbets, ice cream, mousses, pies, and dessert sauces.
  • Add juice to punches, cocktails, fruit juice blends.

Flavor partners. Passion fruit has a flavor affinity for cream, guava, ice cream, mango, meringue, mousse, papaya, pineapple, star fruit, sugar, and yogurt.

Nutrition. Passion fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and sodium.

Passion fruit facts and trivia. Passion fruit is native to southern Brazil. The fruit was given its name by Spanish Jesuit priests who saw the pattern of Christ’s crown of thorns and other symbols of the Crucifixion or passion in the plant’s flowers.

In some places such as South Africa, passion fruit goes by the Spanish name granadilla which means “little pomegranate”.

The botanical name for purple passion fruit is Passiflora edulis. The botanical name for yellow passion fruit is Passiflora edulis flavicarpa.

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you! We inherited a purple passion fruit vine from the previous owners of our home in San Diego and this year it has exploded! Looking forward to some passion fruit martinis in a few weeks!

  2. It is mid November, already light frost for 2 days. My passion fruit is the purple variety. Green passion fruit still hanging on the vine. Will they ripen before it get really cold? Can I pick them green and ripen in doors?

    • Green passion fruits will not ripen off the vine. Ripe fruits will grow sweeter off the vine. It is doubtful your passion fruit has enough warm weather to ripen now that frost has come. You can place plant blankets over the vine to protect it–in hopes, warm weather may return very soon.

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