We’re diving into the world of passion fruit – an exotic and intriguing ingredient that can elevate any dish. So often overlooked and misunderstood, this gem of a fruit has a unique taste that’s just begging to be explored.
Growing up, my grandmother had a passion fruit tree in her backyard. I fondly remember her making fresh maracuyá juice from the ripe fruit hanging from the tree. Then, she would blend the passion fruit with water and a pinch of sugar, creating a refreshing drink that perfectly captured the essence of those carefree days.
On a recent trip to Cartagena, Colombia, I was pleasantly surprised to find fresh passion fruit waiting in my hotel room. The rich flavor and aroma of these exotic fruits instantly transported me back to my childhood, reminding me of the delightful taste of my grandmother’s homemade juice.
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What Does Passion Fruit Taste Like?
The taste of passion fruit is like a rollercoaster ride for your taste buds. It’s an exotic fruit with a complex flavor profile that is simultaneously sweet, tart, and tangy. The sweetness is akin to that of ripe mango or guava, while the tartness is reminiscent of citrus fruits like lemon or lime. The combination of these contrasting flavors creates a unique sensory experience that is hard to describe but utterly irresistible.
The texture is also worth mentioning. When you cut open the fruit, you’ll find a soft, gelatinous pulp filled with tiny, edible seeds. These seeds have a slightly crunchy texture and add a delightful contrast to the smooth pulp.
Selecting and Storing Passion Fruit
To fully appreciate the taste, choosing ripe, high-quality fruits is essential. A ripe passion fruit will have a slightly wrinkled skin and feel heavy for its size. Depending on the variety, the color can vary from deep purple to yellow. It’s crucial to avoid fruits with green skin, as this indicates that they are underripe and won’t offer the same depth of flavor.
Store it at room temperature until it’s fully ripe. Once ripe, you can refrigerate the fruit for up to a week to maintain its freshness. If you need to store it for longer, consider scooping out the pulp and freezing it for future use.
Proper storage is essential to preserving the taste and freshness. If you’ve purchased unripe passion fruit, store it at room temperature until it ripens. A ripe passion fruit will have slightly wrinkled skin and feel heavy for its size.
Once the fruit is ripe, you can transfer it to the refrigerator, which will stay fresh for up to a week. If you need to store it longer, consider scooping out the pulp and freezing it in an airtight container. This method will allow you to enjoy the taste of fresh maracuya whenever the craving strikes.
How to Freeze and Preserve Passion Fruit
Freezing and preserving passion fruit is an excellent way to enjoy its unique flavor year-round. Follow these simple steps to freeze and preserve it longer:
- Choose ripe passion fruit: Select maracuya that are slightly wrinkled and feel heavy for their size, as these are ripe and ready to eat. Depending on the variety, the skin color should be deep purple or yellow.
- Clean the fruit: Rinse it under cold running water to remove dirt or debris.
- Cut and scoop: Using a sharp knife, cut it in half. Then, use a spoon to scoop the pulp from each half, including the seeds.
- Strain (optional): If you prefer to remove the seeds, you can strain the pulp using a fine mesh strainer. Press the pulp against the strainer with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible. Removing the seeds is optional, as some people enjoy the texture and mild flavor they provide.
- Portion the pulp: To make it easier to use the frozen pulp later, portion it into small, manageable amounts. You can use ice cube trays, silicone molds, or small airtight containers. Fill each portion with the passion fruit pulp, leaving a little room for expansion as the pulp freezes.
- Freeze: Place the filled ice cube trays, silicone molds, or containers in the freezer, ensuring they are level to prevent spills. Allow the pulp to freeze for several hours or overnight until solid.
Follow this how-to-freezing guide on how to freeze chimichurri for the easiest way to freeze passion fruit and preserve it in the freezer.
Enjoying And Preparing Passion Fruit (Maracuya)
If you’ve ever wondered how to eat passion fruit – the simplest way to enjoy it is to cut it in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. In Colombia, maracuya is cut in half and enjoyed as a snack. Or turned into a passion fruit juice or jugo de maracuya, made with ripe fruit, water, and a pinch of sugar. Below are several ways to enjoy passion fruit:
Passion Fruit Juice (Maracuya Juice): Blend the pulp and seeds with water, then strain to remove the seeds. Sweeten to taste and serve over ice for a refreshing beverage.
Smoothie: Blend the pulp and seeds with milk or almond milk, based on your preference, then strain to remove the seeds. Also, sweeten it if desired, and serve over ice for a perfect summer smoothie.
Syrup: Combine the pulp with sugar and water in a saucepan, then simmer until the sugar dissolves. This syrup can be used as a topping for pancakes or waffles or mixed into cocktails for a tropical twist.
While the simplest way to enjoy passion fruit is to scoop out its pulp and eat it directly, there are countless other ways to savor this unique fruit. Here are some ideas to inspire your culinary creativity:
- Add it to your breakfast yogurt or oatmeal for a tropical twist.
- Incorporate the puree into a homemade vinaigrette for a zesty, fruity salad dressing.
- Create sauce to drizzle over grilled fish or chicken for a tangy sweetness.
- Use the pulp as a topping for ice cream or sorbet, adding an exotic touch to your favorite frozen dessert.
- Mix maracuya juice into cocktails or mocktails to create a passion fruit margarita or passionfruit mocktail.
- Stir puree into a cake or muffin batter for a delightful infusion of fruity flavor.
Combine it with other tropical fruits, such as mango and pineapple, to create a vibrant fruit salad.
- Experiment with it in savory dishes, like stir-fries or curries, for an unexpected layer of flavor.
What Is Banana Passion Fruit?
Banana passion fruit (Passiflora mollissima) is another variety that’s worth exploring. Native to South America, this fruit is elongated and shaped like a banana, hence its name. The taste of banana maracuya is similar to that of the more common purple and yellow varieties, with a sweet-tart flavor and slightly musky aroma. While not as widely available, it can sometimes be found at specialty markets or online retailers that sell exotic fruits.
The Seeds – A Culinary Gem
While many people focus on the juicy pulp of passion fruit, the seeds are also a culinary gem. They have a crunchy texture and a mild, fruity taste. Some people enjoy eating the seeds along with the pulp, while others prefer to remove them. If you’d like to use the seeds in your cooking, consider adding them to fruit salads or smoothies for a bit of crunch, or even incorporating them into homemade granola or energy bars.
Where To Buy It
Finding it in your local area may be easier than you think. Many large grocery store chains, such as Whole Foods, often seasonally carry fresh fruit in their exotic or tropical fruit sections.
Local international supermarkets that specialize in diverse foods from around the world are likely to stock it. These stores typically provide a wider selection of fruits and vegetables, including less common items like passion fruit.
My favorite is frozen passion fruit pulp. It’s convenient and available year-round. It preserves freshness and is ideal for those who want to enjoy the fruit’s flavor without dealing with seeds.
When is Passion Fruit in Season?
Passion fruit grows in tropical and subtropical climates and has two main seasons, typically aligning with summer and winter. However, the exact timing can vary depending on the geographical location.
It can be harvested year-round in regions closer to the equator, like Central and South America, though peak production often occurs in the summer months.
In more temperate climates such as in the United States, specifically California, and Florida, it typically has two seasons: one from July through November and a smaller crop in the late winter to early spring.
Remember, due to varying climate conditions and farming practices around the globe. It is often possible to find passion fruit in stores outside these times, imported from regions where it is currently in season.