Passionfruit (Maracuja)

I enjoy the Local Harvest website, even though it currently doesn’t list much in my area, because what it does list is so interesting. It alerted me to a source of duck eggs in Mandan, and a source of FRESH ~organic passionfruit in California. Needless to say I placed an order for the passionfruit, as it is one of my favorite frutas discovered during my trips to Brasil.  I had a cunning plan to start some seeds, train the vines up my cubicle walls at work, pollinate with a q-tip and harvest fruit from the ceiling, but I couldn’t get my seeds to germinate. It’s probably for the best, as the seed catalog warned this variety had a tendency to drop when ripe.

I am especially excited about this as foreign fruits don’t often survive the trip to the States in a condition worth eating. I was trying SO HARD to learn and love the fruits I can grow here in North Dakota (there are many more than you’d think – more in future posts), but these trips set me back years! Tart acerola, mangoes, pineapple every morning for breakfast, coconut water from the vendors on the Rio beach, jaboticaba growing on the edges of the path at the Pao de Azucar mountains, wild bananas visible from the country roads on the way to the Sao Paulo beach… I could not believe how much better the tiny “Silver” bananas tasted than our chalky Cavendish. I knew better, but I did try some just-arrived lychee from the supermarket — it was nowhere near the beautiful tangy lychee Lu bought us in Sao Paulo. It made me remember why I hated canned lychee, actually. (The remainder of the bag is soaking in some Muscat to see if it tastes better as sangria.)

My friends wanted me to assemble some recipes for use of the passionfruit, so when it got here they knew what to do with it. In Brasil I saw it most often as a juice, a fresh sauce over cheesecake or a cream pie, or folded into one of their innumerable light but stiff puddings. It would also work well as a replacement for lemon in lemon curd. Recipes and suggestions follow the fold.

Passionfruit taste sweetest when the outside is wrinkly, but are definitely enjoyable before then as well. I love them tart – try a couple in different stages to see which you prefer. When you cut open a passionfruit, inside the wrinkly styrofoamy shell, you will see a mass of pulp and seeds – THAT’s the part that’s good to eat. (The seeds are edible.) Scoop the pulp out with a spoon and eat it straight, or spread it over a slice of plain cheesecake as a fruit sauce, or try it over vanilla ice cream.
If you’d like to remove the seeds, or use the pulp to construct something else:

To Juice a Passionfruit

The easiest way to remove the seeds, from Teresa Marrone’s wonderful wild foods cookbook “Abundantly Wild:

Scoop out the pulp with a spoon, and measure it into a saucepan. For every 2 cups of pulp, add 1 cup water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, then cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a wire-mesh strainer, stirring with a wooden spoon until most of the pulp has passed through the strainer. 2 cups of pulp should yield 1 ½ cups of milky, thickened nectar.

(This recipe and all the below will work with wild maypops, should you be so lucky as to come across any.)

Passionfruit Sangria

  • 2 cups passionfruit nectar
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup white grape juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) sweet white wine, ideally berry-flavored
  • 1 can (12 oz) lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
  • Combine first five ingredients in a large pitcher and chill. Just before serving, add soda and stir gently. Serve over ice.

    Passionfruit Cheesecake


  • 1 1/2 cups allpurpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbls nuts, finely chopped
  • 6 oz butter, melted
  • Filling

  • 1 ½ lb cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbls cornstarch
  • ½ vanilla bean, scraped
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup passionfruit puree
  • Make crust by combining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt butter and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. When incorporated, press evenly into nine-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add corn starch and blend. Add eggs and mix thoroughly, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla and sour cream. Mix until smooth and fold in passionfruit puree. Pour batter into a springform pan and bake at 300 degrees for approximately one hour and thirty minutes, or until set. Cool slowly and completely refrigerate for several hours.

    Passionfruit Curd

    Oh num num num… I love bottled lemon curd as a filling between layers of pastry or cake, or topped with fresh berries, or folded into whipped cream as a frosting or mousse. This is even better. (Based on a recipe from “Abundantly Wild.”)

    • ½ cup passionfruit nectar
    • 3 eggs
    • ½ cup sugar (or less to taste. Try half, then ramp up.)
    • 1 unblemished lemon, well washed
    • 5 Tbls unsalted butter, cut into 7 or 8 chunks

    Combine juice, eggs and sugar in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan. Grate about a third of the zest of the lemon into the pan (making sure you get only the yellow part, none of the bitter white part.) Whisk well, then place over medium-low heat. Add the butter. Cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture develops some thickness and a few bubbles begin to pop in the center of the pan, about 10 – 12 minutes – don’t overcook or it will curdle. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool slightly. Press plastic wrap directly to the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 1 hour. The flavor is best after 1 day in the fridge – it will keep two weeks, if you haven’t eaten it by then.

    Passionfruit Mousse (Mousse de maracuja)

    While there are lots of different Brasilian pudding recipes out there, most involve eggs. Here’s a lighter, easier one, which should still have that authentic airy, firm quality. For an American-style softer Passionfruit cream, omit the gelatin and don’t fold the puree in so evenly — leave some marbled streaks for a nice hit of flavor.

    • 2 cups passionfruit puree
    • ½ c sugar
    • 2 Tbls plain gelatin
    • ¼ cup cold water
    • ¼ cup hot water
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Combine the puree and sugar to taste. Sprinkle the gelatin on the cold water to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in the hot water till the gelatin dissolves completely. Let cool, then add to the fruit puree. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks, then fold into the fruit. Pour into 1 large or 6-8 small serving dishes, and refrigerate until set (~2-3 hours.)

    British-style Passionfruit Fool

    • 12 passionfruit
    • 10 oz heavy cream
    • 3 ½ oz powdered sugar
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 tsp coconut rum
    • 4 chilled serving glasses

    Scoop the pulp from the passionfruit. Whisk the sugar, lemon juice and rum (if desired) into the cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold in the passionfruit pulp and serve in chilled glasses garnished with your favorite cookies.

    2 thoughts on “Passionfruit (Maracuja)

    1. Tita says:

      Hello: I was given a potted two inch marachuja plant seedling and have looked high and low for planting/growing hints. I see from your comments they don’t germinate easily if at all. Did you grow it indoors, out, greenhouse? Any info for me? Thank you. Tita

    2. I think you’ve gotten past the hardest part, if you have a seedling. Greenhouse or indoors will surely work if you give it as much light as possible, but outdoors will work if your area doesn’t get colder than 20 degrees F /-6 degrees C in the winters. If you live in a cool climate, give it full sun; but it will take partial shade in a very warm climate. Normal garden soil should be okay, with very good drainage, even a bit on the dry side. It will be a perennial in warm climates, and will die back but regrow if your climate frosts. It will need a trellis; some varieties will climb 20 feet / ~7 meters in a year. You should get flowers the second year, and fruit the second or third year.
      Is this what you were hoping for? Any more specific info you’d need?

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