An Alluring Fruit
Growing up in Hawaii we always considered ourselves lucky when we could procure some fresh lilikoi, known as passion fruit in most of the world. Passion fruit is a small oval fruit that grows on a vine. It starts out green and then turns dark purple or yellow, depending on the variety. To harvest you let the fruit ripen until fully colored or until it falls off the vine. A ripe passion fruit should be heavy for its size and the skin should be dimpled and wrinkled. When you slice open a passion fruit you will find it filled with magically fragrant and juicy seed sacks.
Where to Find Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, but is now grown in a variety of warm weather zones including: Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, parts of Africa, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and the Portugal and in the U.S in California, Arizona and Florida. Here in Southern California I occasionally find passion fruit at farmer's markets, Asian and Mexican markets, Whole Foods, Gelson's and Bristol Farms Grocery stores.
When are passion fruit in season?
Passion fruit vines can provide several waves of fruit throughout the year, with the biggest harvest being late summer.
Grow Your Own
I have finally solved my passion fruit supply issue by growing my own. I have planted 5 vines along a southwest-facing wall where they get plenty of sunlight. I have a half dozen fruits that are just beginning to ripen and more on the way. It took me a little while to get my first vines going, but they are now off to a great start. I understand once they become established a passion fruit vine can really take over with its curly tentacles grasping on to anything in its way.
You will know when your passion fruit vines are about to bear fruit because you will begin to see these gorgeous flowers. The blooms last only a day or two and then begin to transform themselves into fruit.
What to Do With Your Passion Fruit?
The seeds are edible. You can scoop the seeds and eat them right out of the fruit or you can add them to yogurt, ice cream or incorporate them into drinks and cocktails. Check out my Tropical Sangria recipe for a flavorful summertime drink. Passion fruit seeds and syrup are frequently used for making the Aussie and New Zealand dessert favorite pavlova.
You can juice passion fruit by putting the seeds in a sieve positioned over a bowl and rubbing the seeds against the sieve. It takes a lot of passion fruit seeds to make juice, but passion fruit juice is very potent and even a tablespoon or two goes a long way. Passion fruit juice can be used to flavor creme brulee, panna cotta, custards, cakes and pies.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is very low in calories and high in Vitamin C and A, minerals and fiber. Passion fruit have anticancer properties, help regulate blood pressure, boost GI health and protect eyesight. Some studies have shown passion fruit peel can relieve asthma. There are a number of studies that have looked at passion fruit as a possible treatment for anxiety and depression.
Passion fruit precautions
Web MD states passion fruit is unsafe for pregnant woman as it can induce uterine contractions and that passion fruit should be avoided two weeks before surgery because of interactions with anesthesia.