Costa RicaCosta Rica

Fruit of the Month: Passion Fruit

Before moving to Costa Rica, I had never seen a passion fruit's seedy pod and had only a vague notion of the fruit's existence. Today, it is one of my all-time favorite fruits: they're perfect with breakfast, lunch and dinner (and every snack in between). I buy them by the bagful, and value them like the ancients did cacao (chocolate). I guess you could say I am passionate about passion fruit -- and you should be too!

There are two main varieties of passion fruit in Costa Rica: maracuya (Passiflora edulis) and granadilla (Passiflora ligularis). Maracuya (pronounced mah-rah-koo-jah) has a greenish-purple exterior, which is about the size of a small apple and often wrinkles when the fruit gets ripe. Granadilla (pronounced grah-nah-dee-jah) is similar in size, but its outer shell is orange, waxy, and harder than that of the maracuya. When you hold a maracuya, you feel its weight; granadilla, on the other hand, is so light it almost feels weightless. Maracuya runs about $1.10 per pound, while granadilla usually costs upwards of $2.00 per pound. Both varieties are available throughout the year, but yields are usually higher March-May and August-December.

Both maracuya and granadilla are filled with small, black seeds surrounded by a gelled pulp. This pulp is the edible part of the fruit; in maracuya, it is bright orange, while granadilla pulp is almost transparent. The texture is similar to a very dense jelly or cooked tapioca balls (like in pudding). I've heard friends describe maracuya's tart pulp as a cross between sweet mango and husky tomatillos, while granadilla tastes a little bit like very mild pineapple-berry blend.

Passion fruit not only tastes delicious, but both varieties are rich in vitamin A, C and K, as well as calcium, iron, and phosphorus. In my experience, the more tart maracuya is best juiced on its own or added to a fruit drink. Granadilla, with its delicious, sweet seeds, is ideal eaten all on its own. Just crack it open -- use a knife or your fingers to half the shell -- and slurp or spoon out the seeds.

Passion Fruit Juice

4 medium maracuya 1-2 cups water Sugar, to taste

Crack open the maracuya and spoon the seeds into a blender. Add 1 cup water and blend on high until the seeds are finely crushed.

Taste the mixture and add sugar to your preference. You may add more water to create a smoother juice. When you have achieved the desired consistency, pour through a colander or strainer to separate crushed seeds. Serve over ice. Enjoy!

Fruit of the Month: Passion Fruit in Pictures