Passion fruit is also called “purple granadilla” since its characteristics resemble the pomegranate (granadilla means “little pomegranate” in Spanish).
Passion fruit is a native of Brazil and migrated through Paraguay to northern Argentina. Thereafter it was grown in Hawaii, Florida and California. New Zealand is also a major cultivator of passion fruits. Purple passion fruit of New Zealand is very popular and it is exported to various parts of the world including US markets.
Passion fruit is a vigorous climbing vine and it can grow 15 – 20 ft per year if it has strong support. The evergreen leaves are alternate and 3-lobed. The flowers are fragrant and usually occur as a single bloom. Fruits are round or ovoid, 1 – 3 inches long, having a tough, smooth and waxy rind, purple or dark purple colored with faint white or yellow dots. The inner cavity is filled with an aromatic mass of double walled membranous sacs containing orange colored pulpy juice and numerous dark brown or black small seeds. The seeds are edible; therefore it’s very easy to eat the flesh as whole.
Generally, passion fruits are found in two varieties:
New Zealand passion fruit – purple
Hawaiian passion fruit – yellow.
Passion fruit is available from April through August.
While selecting passion fruits, choose the large, heavy and firm fruits. If the fruit is ripe, it is wrinkled, dimpled and has a deep purple skin. Keep it at room temperature if it is unripe or else you can keep the ripened fruit inside the refrigerator.
Passion fruit juice is strong and rich flavored with a pleasant aroma. While the undiluted juice is quite concentrated, it can be added with other fruit juices or simply drunk by adding water and sugar. You can make excellent jelly, pie filling and cake frosting with Passion fruit.
The flesh of purple passion fruit may be eaten by itself since it is sweeter and less acidic than the yellow variety.
Passion fruit juice is an extremely good source of Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid. It also contains Vitamin A or carotenoids, potassium and iron. One passion fruit provides only 16 calories. Passion fruit is a good source of fiber!