What is passionfruit?
Pavlova filled with whipped cream and smothered with passionfruit pulp is a classic Australian dessert. The aromatic, slightly tart flavour of passionfruit is equally at home infused throughout an unbaked cheesecake. Or mix with crème fraîche and use as a sauce on salmon topped with fresh mint and coriander leaves.
Passionfruit is native to Brazil but is now commercially grown in many regions around the world. Passionfruit was introduced to Australia in the 19th century and today the plant is grown extensively in Australian and New Zealand gardens.
Seeds from Australian purple passionfruit were taken to Hawaii in 1880 and the vine has become popular in many home gardens on the islands.
In Australia, there are a number of different types of passionfruit available. The Purple (or common) passionfruit is the most popular variety. It has dark-purple skin that is slightly dimpled and has a yellow-to-orange pulp with lots of small, black seeds. As the passionfruit ripens, the skin becomes more wrinkled and dull.
The Panama variety is a large, red-skinned fruit with yellow-to-orange sweet pulp. Occasionally, yellow-skinned, round passionfruit are available. These are larger than the common passionfruit and have yellow-to-pale-orange pulp.
The banana passionfruit is elongated rather than round. It is yellow-skinned and looks similar to a small banana with rounded ends. This variety has more pulp than the common passionfruit but the flavour is not as intense.
Why passionfruit is good to eat
- Passionfruit is a good source of vitamins A (important for growth and development and the maintenance of your immune system), C (needed for the growth and repair of tissues in the body) and K (important for helping your blood to clot).
- It also contains minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) and magnesium (involved in the regulation of muscle, heart and nerve function and keeping bones strong).
- Passionfruit contains dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy bowel.
- Energy – 100 g of passionfruit pulp supplies 300 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Passionfruit grow on a climbing vine that clings to supports. The plant grows best in full sun and it prefers tropical climates with moderate rainfall. Passionfruit vines usually live for five to seven years, although they grow quickly and start producing fruit between one and three years after planting.
Leaves on the vine are glossy, dark green and have three lobes. The flowers on the vine are fragrant and very distinctive in appearance. Those of the Purple variety have white petals and a purple band of colour around the base.
Fruit starts developing about 70 to 80 days after pollination (this usually occurs by bees, but vines can also be pollinated by hand). When unripe, the skin of the fruit is soft, but it becomes hard and dark purple or yellow (depending on the variety) as the passionfruit matures. Passionfruit fall to the ground within a few days of ripening.
Choose passionfruit that feel heavy for their size. The skin should feel thick and be smooth or only slightly wrinkled. Avoid passionfruit that are dry or which have excessively wrinkled or visibly damaged skin. Passionfruit that feel thin-skinned should also be avoided.
How to store and keep passionfruit
Store passionfruit at room temperature. They will last for up to a week when stored this way. You can also store passionfruit in an airtight plastic bag in the crisper section of your fridge. They will keep for several weeks when refrigerated. Passionfruit pulp can also be frozen.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel
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