With a name like passion fruit, it’s easy to get the wrong idea. The tropical fruit is unquestionably seductive. And with its tangy flavor and spectacular sweet-smelling fragrance, you’re bound to develop a craving for passion fruit.
But passion fruit actually has nothing to do with desire. Missionaries gave it the name for the plant’s flower, which they thought symbolized the crucifixion (aka the passion) of Christ. The flower’s three stigmas were the nails in Jesus’ hands and feet, for instance, and the surrounding threads formed the crown of thorns.
The first thing you need to know about passion fruit is that looks (and smells) can be deceiving. The fruit smells super sweet and perfumed, but the juicy, gelatinous fruit inside is actually quite tart. What’s more, when the fruit is ripe and ready to eat, the skin looks rotten, wrinkled and pockmarked.
There are two main types of passion fruit. One is the size of a lime with dark purple skin; the other is yellow, as big as an orange, and tastes tangier than it’s purple cousin. Both have a golden-green gelatinous pulp inside and loads of little black seeds. Growing up in Australia, we always ate the seeds. While they provide a good dose of fiber, they can taste a little bitter. Just don’t try to eat the skin of either variety. It’s not edible.
To buy: Look for fruit that feels heavy for it’s size. Light, hollow passion fruit means the pulp inside has dried up. And remember ripe passion fruit will have shriveled skin whether it’s dark purple or bright yellow.
To store: Not-yet-ripe passion fruit should be left in a fruit bowl at room temperature until it looks wrinkly. If already ripe, pop in the fridge, where it can last up to a week.
To use: The easiest way is to cut the fruit in half, scoop out the flesh, and eat. It’s that good. When using the flesh in recipes, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Like a Meyer lemon, which is also tart and sweet, you don’t need a lot of passion fruit to add a burst of flavor to dishes.
Scoop the fresh fruit over Greek yogurt or ice cream.
Blend passion fruit into a smoothie with mango, pineapple, kiwi fruit and strawberries.
Add the fruit to dressings and marinades. Passion fruit pairs well with avocados and seafood.
Caramelize sugar with passion fruit and drizzle over cheesecake.
Act like an Aussie and add it to the top of a pavlova.
Shake vodka, passion fruit, and ice in a cocktail shaker and serve straight up.
Or, turn it into a lively flavored granita. Try this Exotic Fruit Salad with Passion Fruit Granita.