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Passion Fruit

Passiflora edulis


Description

Passionfruit is one of the most delicious and distinctively-flavoured fruits you’ll find. Outside they don’t look that appetising, with their tough, wrinkled dark purple skin, but cut one open and you’re whacked in the nose with the most tropical of fragrances.

A single passionfruit contains about a tablespoon of pulp, wrapped around large black seeds. Its intense flavour means a little can infuse a whole dish, and the acidity helps enhance the other flavours present.

Passionfruit is a good source of vitamin C, as well as beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A, potassium, and fibre.

Usually you’ll buy purple-skinned passionfruit, though yellow-skinned varieties do exist. A purple-skinned passionfruit grows to about the size of a chicken’s egg, and is ripe when the skin is just wrinkling; eat it while the skin is smooth and it’ll be too tart. Yellow-skinned passionfruit stay smooth, and are ripe when there’s just a little give. These tend to have a tarter flavour, and can grow to be the size of a grapefruit.

Passionfruit will keep for about a week at room temperature and in the fridge for about three weeks. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself with too many to use, you can scoop out the pulp and juice and freeze it.

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History

The passionfruit is native to the area of South America around Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, and were first recorded in 1699.

It was named by Catholic missionaries, who saw in the flower elements of Christ’s Passion, or the Crucifixion. The three stigmas were said to represent the three nails in Christ’s hands and feet, while the five anthers represented the five Holy Wounds. The corona threads around the flower symbolised the Crown of Thorns, and the tendrils were said to show the whips. The ten petals were the ten faithful Apostles (leaving out Peter, who denied Jesus but repented, and Judas, who betrayed him).

Passionfruit was first planted commercially in New Zealand in Kerikeri in 1927, and was followed by plantings in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty.

Uses

Passionfruit can be eaten just as you would kiwifruit and feijoa, by cutting in half and scooping out the inside with a spoon.

It’s also interesting in salads and salsas, and is a traditional topping for pavlova.

Passionfruit makes an excellent caprioska cocktail – muddle passionfruit pulp to taste with two slices of lime, a teaspoon of sugar or sugar syrup, and 50ml of passionfruit vodka. Add lots of ice and shake well. Serve in a lowball glass.

Facts

In traditional Peruvian medicine, passionfruit is used to treat disorders of the urinary system, and in Brazil it’s used to treat respiratory problems, such as asthma and whooping cough.

Passion flower contains a mild sedative and can be used to help induce sleep.

In Australia, passionfruit vines were often planted around the backyard dunny, where they grew well from all the fertiliser and moisture.



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