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Passion Fruit from A to Z: 26 Things to Know

Passion Fruit from A to Z: 26 Things to Know

A list of passion fruit facts and figures you can't miss: varieties, nutritional facts and how to enjoy this tropical fruit at its best.

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Ají de maracuyá. A hot spicy Ecuadorian sauce consisting of chili peppers, lime, olive oil or avocado and coriander added to yellow passion fruit. Some recommend it with fried plantain chips (patacones or chifles), chicken empanadas or grilled salmon.

Bolo de maracujá. The soft sponge cake typical of Brazil: starting from its mixture, it is aromatized with passion fruit juice and, when baked, soaked in a syrup of the same fruit. Some versions of the recipe include a creamy layer of maracuja mousse as a filling.

Calala. This is the Nicaraguan term for the yellow variety of passion fruit with its refreshing juices: to obtain the juice, many recommend cutting the fruits in half and boiling them.

Drinks. "Granadilla flavoured drinks" are highly popular in Africa and the Middle East. The most widespread brands are South African.

E104, E110, E122. are the yellow, orangey-yellow and red (with bluish nuances) artificial food colourings often added to "granadilla flavoured drinks".

Flowers. All varieties of passion flowers (about 465 species), produce beautiful blossoms that are normally hermaphrodite. They vary in size according to the species and come in various colour combinations of white, blue, purple, pink, green, red or brick red.

Granadilla goes by this name in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and South Africa, while in Guatemala it is called granadilla común and in Venezuela granadilla de China (but also parchita amarilla). And what about the Jamaicans? Granaditta (apart from the green variety: see "sweet cup").

Hawaii. Here it is called liliko'i where the yellow variety is widespread and appears as the main ingredient of the Haupia Liliko'i Pie (coconut and passion fruit), as well as jellies, syrups and curds (see "liliko'i butter").

Indonesia. Known as markisa, the yellow and white fleshed varieties are widespread in Indonesia. While the former is generally filtered and then boiled with sugar to produce a thick syrup, the latter is eaten fresh.

Jalea de maracuyá y piña (or mango). In South America, particularly in Bolivia, the jams (or mermeladas) combining passion fruit with pineapple or mango are very popular.

Kcal. 100 grams of fresh pulp contain no more than 97 calories.

Liliko'i butter is a typical Hawaiian fresh cream (or "curd"). It is made from passion fruit juice, sugar, eggs and butter. When cool, it can be spread on slices of bread, poured onto crepes or used for cakes, doughnuts or parfait.

Maracujá. Passion fruit as it is called in Brazil and Portugal (deriving from the Tupian language: mara kuya). In Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay it answers to the name of mburucuyá (from the Guarani language). In Colombia, as well as granadilla, it is also known as maracuyá if of the yellow variety and gulupa when purple. Along with the aforementioned granadilla, maracuyá is also a term in use in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras and Peru.

Nutritional facts. The fresh pulp is composed of water (73%), carbohydrates (22%) and a negligible quantity (2%) of proteins. An excellent source of vitamins A, B (especially the yellow variety), C and E, it also contains calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus (one single fruit contains as much phosphorus as two or three bananas!).

Oil. Extracted from the seeds, passion fruit oil offers multiple benefits: in fact it has a 73% content of linoleic acid.

Passion Pisco Sour. The famous Peruvian cocktail (the national drink to which a public holiday has even been dedicated) invented by Victor Morris, an American expat from Salt Lake City who moved to Peru in 1913, has been varied by replacing lime juice with fresh passion fruit juice (or puree). And some go even further by adding a soupcon of chilli pepper as a finishing touch.

Quality. Look at the skin: if it is wrinkled but not excessively so and if the fruit is still heavy and fleshy to the touch, the pulp will be ripe, sweet and juicy. However steer away from those whose skin is excessively wrinkled and which feel “empty” when handled: this tells us that the flesh is becoming gradually drier. Unripe fruits have a smooth skin.

Relaxing remedy. The benefits of passion fruit flowers are widely known: in antiquity, the Aztecs used them for their relaxing effects. It is all thanks to a substance called passiflorine, a natural tranquillizer.

Sweet cup. In Jamaica, a particular green variety is very common: the Passiflora foetida. Also known as sweet cup, sweet calabash, calabasi or coxnut, it has a sweeter flavour than the Passiflora edulis.

Tarts and tartlets. Pastry chefs from all corners of the globe like to include this exotic fruit in their desserts. From British chef Steven Doherty with his Lemon and passion fruit tart, to the Australian Matt Moran with his Passion fruit tartlets, not to mention young pastry chef Alex Stupak (New York) with his original tart of passion fruit, sesame, argan oil and meringue.

Unique. The flavour and aftertaste of this fruit are truly unique, no matter what the variety. It gives an unmistakable touch to desserts, sweets, beverages, cocktails and savoury dishes. Its characteristic aroma is so versatile that it can even pair up with dark chocolate, as artfully demonstrated by Davide Comaschi ("World Chocolate Master"2013).

Varieties. There are two main varieties of maracuja: the passiflora edulis and the passiflora edulis flavicarpa, whose fruits differ in size and skin colour. The former is purplish red and prune-sized while the latter is orangey yellow and sized like a large lemon. The former is sweeter and aromatic. Of the more bizarre varieties, the Banana passion fruit (or Passiflora tripartita mollissima, from Cordillera de los Andes) deserves a special mention: also known as the curuba (Colombia), tumbo (Bolivia and Peru), banana poka (Hawaii) and taxo (Ecuador and Venezuela), it has a soft skin and sweet juicy flesh. It is commonly used in fruit juices and ice-creams.

Warsaw Splendor. An aromatic alchemy of contemporary mixology: an artfully blended cocktail containing vodka and passion fruit with the addition of lime, elderberry flower cordial and apricot brandy.

X-rated? Not really! It is a real pity to demolish a popular belief but… passion fruit has nothing to do with any supposed aphrodisiac properties. In fact, the name passion flower, adopted by Linnaeus in 1753, was given to this variety by the Jesuit missionaries in 1610 owing to the similarity between some flower parts and the symbols of Christ’s passion: the three styles recall the nails, the stamens recall the hammer and the corona resembles the crown of thorns.

Youtube. When calling up "Passion fruit", the popular platform refers you to a piece of music by Drake (aka Aubrey Drake Graham), Canadian rapper, poet-singer and actor. If, on the other hand, you are seeking something “sweeter”, add the word “recipes” and you will come up with a triumph of sorbets, soufflés, creamy puddings, mousses, macarons, smoothies, muffins etc.!

Zero point. Maracuja pulp contains mere 0.7 g of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.


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