In the middle of winter, when seasonal fruits are few and far between, you may be missing your favorite crunchy apples, cherries, and peaches. But there’s an opportunity here, as your favorite grocery stocks these bins with tropical fruit like passion fruit. Yes, their exterior may appear a little intimidating due to their wrinkled dark skin (which is edible), but give them a try. Just cut inside and they have a superbly sweet flavor somewhere between a citrus fruit, pineapple, and papaya. Passion fruit are great in smoothies, blended into sorbet, as a salad garnish, or made into a syrup. To boot, passion fruit is full of vitamins and minerals, including high levels of vitamin C and fiber that boost immunity, regulate energy levels, and aid in digestion. Expand your produce horizons and brighten your meal and your palate with the addition of passion fruit.
There are two major types of passion fruit: purple and yellow. Purple passion fruit is slightly rounded and about 2 inches long, with a rich, dark purple skin. Yellow passion fruit is more oval and larger than the purple variety, with bright yellow skin like a lemon.
Passion fruit has a tart, juicy sweetness that reminds some people of a combination of pineapple, citrus, and papaya. If you like to make tropical fruit smoothies, passion fruit is a delicious add-in.
In tropical parts of the US, such as Florida, Hawaii, and California, passion fruit is readily available year round in major supermarkets. In other parts of the country, passion fruit is available during peak season in specialty stores, Latin markets, and farmers’ markets.
In Hawaii, Florida, and California, passion fruit is available all year long. Peak season for the rest of the US and Europe, depending on imports, is usually late winter through early summer.
Contrary to what appearance denotes freshness in other types of fruits, look for wrinkled skin and brown areas when choosing ripe passion fruit. Both yellow and purple passion fruit skins, which are edible, wrinkle as the juice inside becomes riper. And both varieties may show a darkening of the skin as they ripen.
Avoid fruit that has nicks or soft spots, as it indicates the fruit is overripe or rotting.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen,” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen”. These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides.
Passion fruit does not appear on the EWG produce list. However, choose organic fruit if pesticide exposure is a concern to you. Alternately, eat only the inside of the fruit and disregard the edible skin.
Keep unripened fruit at room temperature for up to one week until the skin wrinkles and perhaps darkens. Once ripened, store the passion fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for five to seven days.
Whether or not you choose to eat the skin of the passion fruit, wash it under warm running water and pat dry. Then, cut the fruit in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Passion fruit can be eaten raw.
When making a passion fruit salad, use both the seeds and pulp. When making a beverage, you still might want to use the seeds, but you’ll probably first need to grind the pulp and seeds together in a blender or food processor to liquefy. When making a jelly, syrup, or special dessert, first strain the pulp over cheesecloth to squeeze out as much fresh juice as possible. Then use the seeds in your next salad.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.
A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin A is involved in the development of rhodopsin, a molecule in the eye that promotes healthy vision. Vitamin A is also responsible for promoting the immune system, cell growth, skin health, and the formation of the heart and lungs as well as other bodily organs.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
Magnesium is responsible for promoting cardiovascular health, muscle contraction and relaxation, energy production, and proper bone formation. This essential nutrient may also be helpful in regulating healthy blood-sugar levels, decreasing the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
Iron is an essential trace mineral that transports oxygen in red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, aiding energy and endurance.
Passion fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber. In fact, one cup of passion fruit (with seeds and pulp intact), contains 24.5 grams of fiber, satisfying nearly your entire daily need. Dietary fiber aids digestion by helping food move along the digestive tract. Without fiber, you may experience constipation, irregularity, and low energy. High-fiber diets are also associated with weight loss, lowered cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, passion fruit is an excellent source of protein (5 grams per cup). Protein, a macronutrient, is one of the three health-supportive building blocks (alongside carbohydrates and fat) necessary for maintaining a balanced body. For someone whose protein sources are limited, such as a vegetarian or vegan, passion fruit is a great option.
- Passion fruit, also known as granadilla, originated in Brazil, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina, but is also grown in Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Israel, and the US.
- When Christian missionaries traveling to South America discovered the granadilla, they named it passion fruit because they believed its flower petals resembled different aspects of Christ’s crucifixion, or the Passion of the Christ.
- In Spanish, granadilla means “little pomegranate.”