If you need a little more passion in your life this Valentine’s Day, crack open a purple or yellow passion fruit.
The purple variety is no beauty, with its dark leathery skin and slippery pulp, like jellied egg yolk dotted with crisp black seeds. But its exotic scent is irresistible and its intense sweet-tart taste, channelling banana, pineapple, guava and lime, will win your heart.
When Australian-born chef John Placko arrived in Toronto, he was delighted to find shrivelled-up passion fruit selling at 8 for $1 because some produce person thought they were going bad.
In fact, the purple fruit is at its most delicious when wrinkled, says Placko, culinary director at Modern Culinary Academy in Mississauga, who grew up with passion fruit vines in his backyard and now reluctantly pays up to $2.99 for a fruit in Toronto.
“In Australia we use it in a lot of different products,” he says, “in pudding mixes, ice cream bars, popsicles and concentrated syrups.”
Placko spoons the pulp over his morning oatmeal with strawberries and yogurt, and transforms it into beads of caviar when he teaches molecular cuisine.
“The granadilla appeals to South Americans and Jamaicans, and it’s now being picked up by our mainstream customers,” says Shreenivas Shellikeri, Loblaw senior category manager for ethnic products.
Shellikeri has turned all his colleagues on to the shiny orb’s sweet, lightly perfumed flavour. One even took a bunch of granadillas to her son’s soccer game, where the kids loved scooping out and eating its gooey, crunchy, grey-green pulp.
Longo’s produce director, Mimmo Franzone, is also a big granadilla fan.
“It’s crunchy, smooth, sweet and tart all wrapped up in an oversized egg-shaped fruit,” says Franzone.
- Passion fruit originated in the Amazon region, where it’s known as maracuya.
- Purple and yellow (granadilla) passion fruit are flown in year-round from Colombia and other South American countries, with less production in winter.
- Passion fruit contains vitamins A and C and is a good source of fibre and the powerful antioxidant lycopene.
Buy & Store
Choose fruit that looks heavy for its size.
- If you buy purple passion fruit with a smooth skin, let it sit on the counter a few days until wrinkled and fragrant.
- Store ripe fruit in a bag in the refrigerator up to a week.
- Ignore the odd brown patch on a granadilla’s skin, says Shellikeri. It’s caused by oxidation and by customers touching them. A spongy inner layer protects the jellied pulp inside.
- The simplest way to eat passion fruit is to cut the fruit in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Discard the shell.
- If the flat, crisp, fibre-rich seeds don’t appeal to you, strain them and use just the juice to perfume drinks and dishes.
- Fans in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador juice passion fruit for breakfast the same way we juice oranges.
- South Americans also love passion fruit mousse made with sweetened condensed milk.
- Passion fruit-flavoured ice pops are popular in South America, Australia and Miami.
- Spoon the pulp over ice cream, yogurt, custard, meringue or cheesecake.
- Add a tropical tang to sauces and soufflés.
- Make passion fruit margaritas in the blender.
- Pour chilled Prosecco into a Champagne flute and add 1 tsp (5 mL) strained passion fruit juice.
- Salad Dressing: Whisk juice and seeds from 3 passion fruit, zest and juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp (5 mL) walnut oil and 1 tbsp (15 mL) honey to dress greens or fruit salad.
- Passion fruit didn’t get its name from its heady fragrance. Instead, its exotic purple and white flower is said to symbolize elements of the Passion of Christ, including Jesus’ crown of thorns.
Passionate Pudding Cake
2/3 cup (160 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
3 wrinkled purple passion fruit
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup (250 mL) milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing
Place rack in centre of oven and preheat to 300F (150C).
Butter 6 1-cup (250 mL) ramekins or a shallow 1.5 L casserole dish. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
In large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour and salt.
Scrape passion fruit pulp and seeds into small bowl. Whisk in yolks, milk and melted butter. Add to flour mixture; whisk to combine.
In large bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Stir one-third of egg whites into batter to lighten; gently fold in remaining whites.
Pour into prepared ramekins. Bake until puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes; cool.
For a saucier pudding, place in a deeper pan and pour water halfway up sides of ramekins.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 6 servings.