Health Benefits of Passion Fruit

Many people use granadilla and passion fruit interchangeably; yet, these fruits are quite different. The most noticeable difference is this: if its gelatinous pulp is gray, the fruit is a granadilla. If the pulp is yellow, it’s passion fruit.



Origin Passion Fruit and Granadilla

Purple passion fruits are native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Yellow varieties are speculated to originate in the Amazon, though Australia is another contender: As explained in the book, “The Encyclopedia of Nuts and Fruit,” the yellow cultivar may have grown there as a mutant form of Passiflora edulis. Granadilla’s precise origin is unknown or debatable. Botanists agree, however, that it’s native to Mexico, Central America and the western regions of South America. 

According to the book, “Systematics of Fruit Crops,” passion fruits spread to Europe and Southern Asia by the 19th century. In 1880, Hawaii received the fruit by way of Australia.

2007 figures published by ITI Tropocales show that Brazil produces over half of the world’s passion fruits, followed by Ecuador and Colombia. Other main passion fruit producing countries include Peru, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Hawaii.

Checking for Ripeness in Granadilla and Passion Fruit

The ripeness of granadilla and passion fruit cannot always be gauged based on the appearance of their skin: brown spots and marks covering its golden orange exterior is perfectly acceptable.

The skin of a granadilla should, however, be smooth and free of dents and cracks. Its shell is much harder than passion fruit; furthermore, whereas passion fruit’s skin wrinkles when ripe, granadilla’s remains smooth.

Granadillas and passion fruit resemble mangosteen when ripe: the tough exterior should give to the touch like a malleable piece of plastic. If it’s too difficult to crack passion fruit from applying pressure with the thumb and forefinger on both sides, it’s not yet ripe. When opened, passion fruit’s thick, yet egg-like shell should crack and expose the soft white pith holding the edible gooey flesh.

The gooey pulp surrounding each seed should appear plump, translucent and juicy, not desiccated and shriveled. As the fruit becomes overripe, the fruit loses its moisture and the ball of pulp shrivels.

When opened, smell the fruit: the pulp should have a floral, sweet aroma that gives an accurate foreshadow of its taste. Indeed, the passion fruit’s fresh, clean, tropical fruity smell is the perfect template for shampoo producers.

Taste of Granadilla and Passion Fruit

The gooey, slimy membrane surrounding the crunchy, edible seeds taste significantly better than its alien-like appearance suggests. The initial impression is a sweet, yet mellow and non-acidic. The membrane’s juicy pulp is refreshing, bearing resemblance to guava and melon’s mild nectar with notes of floral and vanilla.

Compared to a sweet, mellow and pleasing granadilla, passion fruit’s membrane is sourer, sharper, livelier and acidic. Of all of the varieties, the purple ones are purported to be the sweetest whereas the yellow can be pungently tart. The yellow cultivars in India, however, are reputed to be sweeter than even the purples.

Closer to the seeds, the gelatinous goo tastes significantly sourer, saltier and slightly bitter. These notes still complement the pulp’s initial sweetness, but add a new dimension to the bite. The finishing touches are the seed’s crunchiness, which leaves a sour finish to what was otherwise a sweet start. Granadilla and passion fruit share this multifaceted, evolving taste with pomegranate.

The white spongy, cottony pith is like an orange: perfectly edible but tasteless.

Nutritional Value of Granadilla/Passion Fruit
The USDA’s database uses passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) and granadilla (Passiflora ligularis) interchangeably, as do most other resources. Thus, according to the USDA nutrient database, 100g of edible passion fruit/granadilla contain the following values:
  • 97kcal
  • 23.4g Carb (8% RDI)
  • 24.7g Fat (1% RDI)
  • 10.4g Fiber (42% RDI)
  • 2.2g Protein (4% RDI)
  • 1272IU Vitamin A (25% RDI)*
  • 30mg Vitamin C (50% RDI)
  • .1mg Riboflavin (8% RDI)
  • 1.5mg Niacin (7% RDI)
  • .1mg Vitamin B6 (5% RDI)
  • 14mcg Folate (3% RDI)
  • 1.6mg Iron (9% RDI)
  • 29mg Magnesium (7% RDI)
  • 68mg Phosphorous (7% RDI)
  • 348mg Potassium (10% RDI)
  • .1mg Copper (4% RDI)
*Because granadilla’s skin doesn’t have the same yellow hue as passion fruit, granadilla may have less vitamin A than the figure indicated.

Health Benefits of Passion Fruit/Granadilla

Since their arrival, Indians have used passion fruits in traditional medicinal remedies. According to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, locals in the Northeast boil passion fruit leaves to treat diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, hypertension, stomach ailments, and as a liver tonic. Europeans have taken interest in the fruit for passion fruit’s sedative, transquilizer-like chemical, passiflorine. In Madeira, locals drink the juice to promote digestion and as a treatment for gastric cancer.

Several studies show amazing health benefits of passion fruit as well:
  • According to the Journal of Medical Foods, flour made from passion fruit’s edible peel was found to possess antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory qualities.
  • A study published in Carbohydrate Polymers indicates that compounds in passion fruit contain antitumor agents with no toxicity.
  • The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published a study revealing how the polyphenols in passion fruit act against cardiovascular diseases
  • According to a study published in Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, the seeds in passion fruit exhibited antifungal activity. The study also mentioned promise in the rind’s ability to treat diabetes, colon cancer, and diseases stemming from diverticulitis.
How to Open/Cut:

Open passion fruit by pinching it on both sides with the thumb and forefinger. It should crack open. Peel aside the white pith encasing the flesh, and either use a spoon to scoop out the gelatinous part, or slurp it out.

Some choose to cut the fruit in half with a knife—an acceptable method. Using the fingers, however, provides the best gauge of ripeness.

If using the passion fruit in a recipe, extricate the seeds from the pulp. Achieve this by scooping out the flesh and putting it in a blender. No water is necessary. Pulse the fruit lightly and for a short time, as the goal is to keep the juice as seedless as possible. Pour the lightly blended fruit through a sieve. Do not force the juice through the strainer—let the juice sift on its own. 

Storage:

Keep granadillas and passion fruits on the counter until ripe—they’ll keep at room temperature for two to five days. In the refrigerator, passion fruits maintain freshness for up to a week.

For those desiring to enjoy the fruit long after the season has passed, freeze by scooping out the flesh and freezing in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, place the cubes in a plastic bag. The fruit maintain its flavor for at least 8 months.

Passion Fruit and Granadilla Recipe Ideas and Uses:

The bad news: each fruit contains very little juice. The good news: a little juice packs a walloping flavor. If requiring plenty of juice, then choose the yellow type or granadilla—these two yield more juice than purple passion fruit.
  • Make a refreshing slushie by blending ice with any of the fruits mentioned below and stirring in passion fruit pulp. Add alcohol if desired.
  • Add passion fruit juice to preserves and gelatins. The flavor pairs well with orange juice, lemon, and guava. It is possible to preserve passion fruit with some lemon juice and sugar, though this requires utilizing the white piths. Remove the juice and seeds, and then boil the fruit halves for 30 minutes until soft. Blend these halves with water, and then transfer to the stove. Simmer with lemon juice, sugar, and water.
  • Make a passion fruit icing by combining passion fruit juice with beaten powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla extract, and soymilk. Lather this icing over citrus-based, coconutty, or vanilla-based sweet breads, cookies and cupcakes. Passion fruit’s brightness complements warming spices, so consider adding the juice to spiced nut loaves or gingerbread.
  • Add passion fruit pulp over pancakes, custards, and add the juice to ice cream batters and sorbets.
  • Create a tropical passion fruit mousse, utilizing gelatin, sugar, and coconut milk. Drizzle with chocolate sauce.
  • Include passion fruit in raw cheesecake recipes by topping any cake slices with frozen passion fruit juice. Remember: a little juice goes a long way.
  • Add passion fruit pulp to vegan yogurts and use this concoction as the topping of any tropical fruit salad.
  • Include passion fruit juice with sparkling water for a refreshing beverage.
Flavor Complements: Guava, muskmelon, papaya, watermelon, mango, pineapple, strawberry, banana, cherry, apricot, citrus

Herbs, spices, and oil: orange juice, lemon juice, limejuice, any tropical fruit juice, guava puree, coconut derivatives (flakes, milk, water), club soda, white wine, champagne, mint, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, ginger

Random Facts: Over 400 varieties of passion fruit exist in the world. India especially proud of its kaveri variety, a hybrid of purple and yellow passion fruit developed in Karnataka.

Passion fruit received its English name by Catholic priests, who named the fruit after the passion of the Christ. According to them, the flower abounds with symbolism: the ten petals represent the 10 apostles, the three styles for the three nails, the five stamens symbolize the wounds, and tendrils represent the cords. Even its colors, white and blue, symbolize purity and heaven.





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