How to Eat Passion Fruit

how to eat passion fruit

Passion fruits are proven to prevent the onset of diabetes and certain cancers, improve your heart health and digestion, and boost immunity. What’s more? One serving of this tropical fruit can help meet about a quarter of the daily recommended nutrient intake. Learn how to eat passion fruit, along with some recipes that you can make at home.

Passion fruits have become a staple in many tropical and subtropical countries, like Brazil and Paraguay, where natives use them for nutritional and cultural significance. In fact, the passion fruit flower is the national flower of Paraguay.

Today, this fruit is widely available in local markets and farms, hence the need to understand its health benefits and application in recipes. This guide walks you through the popular passion fruit varieties you’re likely to encounter, their health benefits, and how to incorporate them into recipes and drinks. 

What Is Passion Fruit?

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A passion fruit is a type of berry with a round or oval shape and an average diameter of 2 inches (5 to 6 cm). The most common varieties turn yellow or purple at maturity with a soft but firm exterior, gelatinous pulp, and black seeds.

Passion fruits belong to the Passiflora genus of the Passifloraceae family, which has over 50 fruit-bearing species, but only a few are of any commercial importance. Passiflora is Latin for Passion Flower, a name given to the Passion blossom by missionaries as they spread the gospel in South America and particularly Brazil. They depicted parts of the flower as a visual representation of the Passion of the Christ, an annual Christian commemoration of Jesus’ crucifixion.

As a result, the blossom has widely been called “flor das cinco chagas” or the “flower of the five wounds.” The radial filaments at the center of the flower are seen to represent the thorny crown, the three anthers and five stamens as the nails and wounds, and the ten sepals and petals as the ten disciples.

What Are The Common Types of Passion Fruit?

Although the Passiflora genus has several species, only the yellow, purple, giant granadilla, sweet granadilla, and banana passionfruit possess notable aroma, flavor, and nutritional value.

Below is a detailed overview of each of these five passion fruit varieties:

1. The Purple Passion Fruit (Passiflora edulis)

Also known as the reddish-purple passion, this fruit packs a powerful flavor punch due to its great balance of sweetness and acidity. It gets its name from the deep purple or maroon outer skin, especially when ripe (see image above).

Due to their sensitivity to low temperatures, purple varieties are primarily grown in subtropical conditions. They offer an aromatic, tangy, and sweet flavor, making them ideal for incorporating into culinary creations or eating fresh out of hand. The purple passion fruit pulp is the most preferred by consumers, mainly due to its lower acidity than the yellow passion fruit.

2. The Yellow Passion Fruit (Passiflora flavicarpa)

The yellow passion fruit is larger than the purple passion fruit and produces a brighter yellow skin when ripe. Besides its color, another unique aspect of this fruit is its more acidic and citrusy flavor. It also grows faster, has higher yields, and is more resistant to pests and diseases than the purple passion fruit.

Its resilience to external elements has made it the most preferred passiflora species for rootstock, while the citrusy flavor makes it favored for juice, beverages, desserts, and tropical-inspired recipes.

3. Sweet Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis)

The sweet granadilla is a passion fruit variety adored for its sweet aroma, which makes drinks and ice cream even yummier. The peel is also more resilient and sturdy, so these fruit species are some of the easiest to transport without damage. Upon ripening, the exterior turns orange-yellow with tiny light markings. The sweet granadilla has a translucent white pulp on the interior, almost like a liquid.

This fruit species thrives in the mountains of Mexico and Central America, with the western Cordillera part of Colombia contributing most of the European exports.

4. Giant Granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis)

The giant granadilla bears the largest passion fruits, which are more elongated and can reach up to 10 inches (25 cm) long, hence the name. This fruit species is widely distributed in the tropics and is the second most cultivated passion fruit species after the purple passion fruit in tropical America.

The giant granadilla is also cooked as a vegetable before ripening, like a green papaya. Once ripe, the pulp is eaten like a melon or added to drinks and milk with or without additional sugar.

5. Banana Passionfruit (Passiflora tarminiana)

Banana Passionfruit gets its name from its similarity in color and shape to a small banana, but it is, in fact, a passion fruit species. These small to medium-sized varieties are average 3.1 inches (8 cm) long and 1.2 inches (3 cm) wide. They are characterized by a straight ovoid shape and skin that turns pale yellow when ripe. Their interior comprises arils with black seeds and a translucent orange pulp. Banana passionfruit’s sweet sub acidic tropical taste and fruity fragrance make them an ideal beverage addition.

It is worth noting that the banana passionfruit vines are considered invasive species due to their aggressive nature of blocking other plant’s access to sunlight. Nonetheless, this species is still widely grown globally for nutrition and ornamental purposes.

Where is Passion Fruit Grown?

passion fruit growing on plant

Different varieties of passion fruit are cultivated extensively in the tropical belt across South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The biggest producer is Brazil, followed by Ecuador, Australia, Venezuela, New Zealand, and South Africa. These countries also have well-established passion fruit industries with large-scale juice extraction plants. In the US, Passion Fruit is widely produced in California, Hawaii, and Florida.

Passion fruits do well in the tropical belt due to the friendly climate, particularly the average rainfall of over 900 mm. The passion plant also requires well-drained loam soils with about 7 pH and some trees, or fences for support.

Passion fruit plant is usually propagated from seeds but can also germinate from grafts, cuttings, and layers. Seeds germinate within a few days and require heavy and regular watering. A mature plant blooms in spring and early summer and briefly in fall and early winter. For example, passion fruits in Puerto Rico and large swathes of the Caribbean flower around April to September and yield fruits from July to October.

Pollination in passion fruits mainly relies on hummingbirds, carpenter bees, and other insects, although the flowers of purple passion fruit can self-pollinate.

Ripe passion fruits look a bit unattractive and shriveled but have a very strong aroma. Most of these will drop to the ground and be ready for processing. However, fruits meant for the fresh fruit market and export should be picked just after they have developed full color into purple, maroon, or canary yellow and before the shriveling and drying set in. 

Passion Fruits Nutritional Profile

Passion fruit has a rich nutritional profile, making it the go-to solution for health benefits and overall well-being. The high levels of vitamins make it a perfect antioxidant and boost your vision, skin health, and immune system.

The table below shows the nutritional composition of passion fruit per 100g according to the USDA National Nutrient Data Base.

  Nutrients  Nutritional value per 100g  Nutrients  Nutritional value per 100g
Energy97 kcalThiamine0.0 mg
Carbohydrates23.38 gVitamin A1274 IU
Protein2.20 gVitamin C30 mg
Total fat0.7 gPotassium348 mg
Cholesterol0.0 gCalcium12 mg
Dietary fiber10.4 gIron1.60 mg
Folates14 µgMagnesium29 mg
Niacin1.5 mgPhosphorus68 mg
Pyridoxine0,1 mgCarotene743 µg
Riboflavin g0.13 mgCrypto-xanthene41 µg

(Source: USDA National Nutrient Data Base)

Passion Fruit Health Benefits

1. Help Prevent or Manage Diabetes

In addition to the compounds indicated in the nutritional profile, passion fruits also have a high concentration of phytonutrients such as carotenoids and polyphenols, which are shown to play a crucial role in mitigating insulin resistance and, hence, preventing the onset of diabetes. Passion fruit seeds also have piceatannol, a compound believed to improve insulin sensitivity.

Passion fruit is also one of the few tropical fruits with a low glycemic index (GI) value, meaning that it helps release sugar in the body at a slower rate, thus helping maintain blood glucose levels. Its seeds also have a high fiber content in the form of pectin, which aids in fighting diabetes.

2. Support Skin Health

Passion fruit’s ability to support skin health emanates from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The polyphenols, phytonutrients in the fruit, and compounds found on the peel can significantly decrease inflammation. Passion fruits also have powerful antioxidants in the seeds, pulp, and skin, including anthocyanins and beta-carotene. These antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties can help heal wounds and ward off wrinkles. Passion fruit seeds also have peptides that trigger antifungal activities and enhance collagen synthesis.

Moreover, passion fruits may protect the fibroblasts that form the skin matrix by suppressing the UVB-induced generation of reactive oxygen species. Thanks to solid antioxidants such as piceatannol, they can reduce photo-aging.

3. Boost Immunity

Passion Fruits are rich in Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals, keeping the immune system healthy and able to fight infections. The presence of Vitamin C also allows the body to absorb adequate amounts of iron, boosting the immune system and mitigating the risk of iron-deficient Anemia.

Passion fruit seeds also contain about 8% Vitamin A, which helps produce white blood cells that filter foreign materials like pathogens in the bloodstream and keep people protected from diseases.

4. Improve Eye Health

Passion fruits’ antioxidant potential protects your eyes from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which often leads to eye damage and diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and flavonoids neutralize these free radicals to prevent bodily harm.

Vitamin A in passion fruits also aids in producing rhodopsin, a crucial pigmentation in your eyes that regulates night vision. So, regular passion fruit consumption may reduce the risk of night blindness and improve your overall eye function.

5. Promote Heart Health

The high fiber content in passion fruit is sterols-free, so it keeps cholesterol low, making it ideal for people with heart conditions. One cup of passion fruit offers about 800mg of potassium, contributing to over 20% of an adult’s recommended intake. Such an amount of potassium helps enhance vasolidation, keeping the arteries flexible and maintaining normal blood pressure. Potassium also increases the excretion of sodium through urine, further reducing blood pressure. A well-maintained blood pressure significantly reduces the risk of stroke or kidney damage.

6. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Passion fruit contains compounds like serotonin, a common natural sedative known to promote relaxation and offer better sleep, especially for people struggling with insomnia. The rich magnesium content in these fruits also has a robust impact on the brain, keeping you euphoric and full of positive mood. It’s worth noting that passion fruit may not necessarily make you drowsy or sleepy, but it may enhance your overall psychological well-being.

7. Weight Management

Plant-based eating is associated with lower fat intake than conventional eating patterns. Therefore, when consuming passion fruit, you keep your fat intake in check while improving the fiber content in your body. The high fiber may boost satiety and hence control your food intake. Similarly, it relieves constipation and improves bowel movement, crucial bodily functions in weight management.

Risks and Potential Side Effects

Passion fruits are generally tolerated well, but they pose some allergic risks. The fruits have similar chemical compositions to latex, so people with latex allergies may be susceptible, especially if they consume these fruits in large quantities.

Another less risky side effect emanates from the passion fruit skin, which may contain cyanogenic glycoside chemicals, which, when combined with enzymes, can form cyanide, a poisonous chemical. 

However, cyanide is considered poisonous only when consumed in large amounts. Besides, passion fruits’ hard outer skin is inedible, so there are minimal risks to that effect. 

How to Choose Ripe Passion Fruit

rows of passion fruit plants

Although mature passion fruits will drop from the vine, they may need another week or two to develop a sweet flavor. However, these fruits can be eaten immediately after dropping, especially if you want the juicy pulp and are not concerned by the more acidic taste.

A week after the drop, the mature fruit starts to develop some wrinkles on the peel, meaning that the acids are converting into sugar, which makes the pulp sweeter. However, waiting too long after the fruit drops risks losing all the juice inside and ending up with a seedy interior and a potentially moldy serving.

If you need a more affordable, reliable, or steady passion fruit source, choose frozen and packaged passion fruit from your nearest grocery store. However, it is imperative to check the labels to avoid artificial ingredients or syrup added to the frozen and packaged pulp.

How to Eat a Passion Fruit

You can eat a passion fruit by adding it to drinks, using its juice or puree in recipes, or eating it directly out of hand. Below are some common and effective ways to eat passion fruits for the health benefits and the tangy flavor accompanied by a never-ending aroma.

1. How to Eat Passion Fruit Seeds

Passion fruit seeds are edible. Their crunchy texture contrasts the soft pulp and enhances the overall eating experience. Note that seeds from some passion fruit varieties, such as the banana passionfruit, may not be so sweet, so be sure to complement them with other ingredients to benefit from their rich fiber and vitamins.

Once you wash your chosen passion fruit, slice it in half lengthwise. Hold one half over a bowl and scoop the seeds and the pulp. Repeat with the other half.

Below are some of the different ways to eat passion fruit seeds:

  • Eat the extracts directly or add them to salads.
  • Blend them into smoothies or sprinkle them over yogurt to enhance their appeal and boost your nutrition.
  • Fold them into baked products like pancakes or muffins for a tropical twist.
  • Scatter the seeds over puddings, cereal, oatmeal, or ice cream to serve as a topping.
  • Mix into mocktails or cocktails for an exotic touch that brings beauty and flavor. 

How to Eat Passion Fruit Puree

A passion puree conveys the entire passion flower flavor and the nutritional value of the pulp and the seeds. Below are tips for eating the passion fruit puree and boosting your nutritional intake.

Start by washing the passion fruit, cutting it into two halves, and scooping out the pulp and seeds. Place the passion fruit in a food processor or a blender and make a puree. Then, choose any of the following methods to consume the puree.

  • Mix with water and add some honey or lemon to take it as a beverage.
  • Drizzle the puree over desserts like ice cream or cheesecakes, or use it as a sauce for seafood dishes or grilled meats.
  • You can use it to make homemade fruit leather by spreading it onto a baking sheet, drying it, and cutting it into strips.
  • You can make homemade popsicles by pouring the puree into Popsicle molds and adding chunks of mint leaves or fresh fruit to enhance flavor and texture.

How to Eat Passion Fruit Juice

Passion fruit juice is a perfect option if you don’t like the seeds. Use a cheesecloth or a filter to separate the seeds from the juice, and your consumption should be stress-free. However, you may need several passion fruits to create a glass of this juice.

To make juice, add water or fruit juice, such as apple or orange, to the blender to enhance the process. Once the juice is well combined and smooth in the blender, strain it through a sieve for the best results. You can now transfer to a glass and serve immediately or refrigerate for future use.

Popular Passion Fruit Recipes

A). Passion Fruit Chia Pudding:

passion fruit chia pudding

Ingredients:

  • Half cup coconut milk (full-fay, canned)
  • Fresh berries or sliced banana for topping
  • 1 ripe passion fruit
  • I tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions:

  1. Scoop out the passion fruit seeds and pulp into a bowl.
  2. Add coconut milk to the bowl.
  3. Whisk or blend the mixture thoroughly.
  4. Evenly distribute chia seeds and stir gently.
  5. Add honey and adjust to taste.
  6. Cover the container and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
  7. Check whether the pudding has thickened. If so, remove it from the refrigerator.
  8. Serve the passion fruit chia pudding topped with fresh fruit for your snack or dessert.

B). Passion Fruit Salad Dressing:

passion fruit dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Walnuts or almonds
  • 1 ripe passion fruit (puree)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Mixed greens such as spinach
  • Sliced oranges, strawberries, or apples
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Scoop the passion fruit contents into a bowl.
  2. Whisk the passion fruit puree, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl until well combined.
  3. Adjust the taste accordingly with honey.
  4. Combine the nuts, sliced fruits, and mixed greens in a large salad bowl.
  5. Drizzle the passion fruit dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

C) Passion Fruit Salsa:

passion fruit salsa

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup passion fruit juice
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ finely chopped onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 seeded and finely chopped jalapenos
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Combine the cilantro, chopped onions, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos in a large bowl.
  2. Add passion fruit juice and lime juice to the bowl.
  3. Add some pepper and salt to enhance taste. Stir the mixture gently to ensure the juices and seasonings evenly coat all the ingredients.
  4. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for about half an hour.
  5. Stir the salsa gently again before serving.
  6. Enjoy the passion fruit salsa as an appetizer with tortilla chips, or serve it as a topping for tofu, chicken, or grilled fish.

Start Eating Passion Fruit Today

As you can see, you can eat passion fruit directly or combine it into beverages and desserts for sweet and savory flavors. Its wonderfully tart flavor makes it an ideal addition to pies and curds, and you can benefit from the numerous nutrients and antioxidants that enhance your general well-being.

The rich fiber content and vitamins make passion fruit recommended for improving your digestive system, managing blood sugar, and boosting your immune system. However, it’s worth noting that you can only achieve most of these benefits if you add passion fruit servings to your balanced diet. So, visit your nearest store or grocery for fresh passion fruits or pulp and start your healthy, sweet, and aromatic journey of passion today.