Also known as the “little pomegranate,” the passionfruit is a rather funny-looking member of the specialty fruit category. A lovely dark purple color (although there are also some yellow and red varieties), about the size of a lime, they are smooth-skinned while growing on the vine. But when ripe, the skin becomes dimpled and wrinkled, making it appear past its prime and unappetizing. But once opened, revealed are tiny dark seeds encased in a sweet, jelly-like fruit, much like those of the pomegranate.
The dark purple variety of passionfruit, which is found in New Zealand, has a less acidic quality than its yellow counterparts. The seeds are edible, lending a nice crunch to the sweet, juicy pulp. The flavor is all its own, but has been compared to guava and melon, with overtones of pineapple, mango and papaya. Avoid the skin, which is quite bitter; the purple variety even contains traces of poison (but not enough to cause any harm).
Some of the more intriguing qualities of the passionfruit are the nutritional aspects of the fruit. Packed with vitamins A and C, eating the seeds also provides a hefty serving of fibre. The pulp is also rich in phytochemicals, those powerful antioxidants which have been shown to help prevent certain cancers, combat aging and boost the immune system. The glycosides and flavonoids in passionfruit have also been shown to have a sedative effect, and have been used to combat anxiety and high blood pressure. The peel of the purple variety, which has traces of cyanide, has shown promise as a treatment for asthma.
How to Eat
The best way to eat a passionfruit largely depends on which side of the seed-eating debate you fall on. If you enjoy the crunch of the seeds, then the best and easiest way to eat passionfruit is to simply cut them in half, scoop out the insides and eat it straightaway. If you prefer the taste without seeds, then you will need to strain the pulp through a sieve or cheesecloth. The resulting juice can be used to make a beverage or syrup. It can also be used to make a jam or jelly.
Select firm, heavy fruit and allow to ripen at room temperature. Do not eat while the skin is still smooth or green, but wait until it becomes wrinkled and dimpled. Even a bit of mold can be simply wiped off with no harm to the quality of the fruit inside. Ripe fruit will have a deep purple (or red or yellow) color. Once ripened, passionfruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.