This sweet-tart, seedy fruit is native to Brazil. The first commercial plantings of passionfruit in New Zealand were in 1927 in Kerikeri. Sweetest when at its ugliest with its skin leathery and wrinkled.
While purple varieties are the most common commercial variety n New Zealand, yellow passionfruit are also available in limited quantities. The yellow varieties tend to be slightly larger than the purple, and the pulp can be a little tarter.
Other passionfruit varieties include the banana passionfruit with its elongated-shaped fruit that can measure up to 12cms in length. Fragrant, with the aroma of oranges, the fruit is juicy and sweet, with a tart bite and hints of banana.
Passionfruit’s sweet and tangy, jelly-like pulp is well suited for both raw and baked preparations. Both the pulp and seeds are edible and can be enjoyed raw. For a less tart flavour, sugar, cream, or chilli powder and lime can be added before serving.
Popular as a topping on pavlova, ice cream, yoghurt, cakes and fruit salads, passionfruit can add tropical undertones into ceviche, soups, sauces, syrups, jams and jellies.
Strain the pulp to remove the seeds, and the juice can be blended into smoothies, fruit punches, soft drinks and cocktails, or mixed into cheesecakes, cookies, icings and shaved ice.
Passionfruit pairs particularly well with tropical fruits like banana, mango, papaya, coconut and melons. Honey, chocolate and almonds, along with cream and custard, are also great matches.
Use passionfruit with floral flavours such as rose water or orange blossom water. Freshen up a chocolate dessert, such as a white chocolate mousse, with passionfruit, or give a stunning contrast in a dark chocolate truffle. While passionfruit is mostly used in sweet dishes, it can be used as a vinaigrette for salads, or paired with chicken.
In addition to the fruit, passionfruit flowers and leaves are edible and can be used fresh as garnishes or dried for teas.
As a subtropical plant, commercial passionfruit growers in New Zealand are predominantly based in the Bay of Plenty and Northland.