Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
Today: We’re getting steamy in our kitchens with passion fruit.
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Springtime: The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and love is in the air. E.E. Cummings's words help evoke the feeling: “sweet spring is your/ time is my time is our / time for springtime is lovetime / and viva sweet love,” and what better fruit to capture that sentiment than passion fruit? But when you cut open a passion fruit, you’re met with a yellow gelatinous seed-studded pulp puddle -- visually not the most attractive fruit -- and you might be left questioning this fruit’s aphrodisiacal properties.
Smart thought, because passion fruit is not named for its ability to incite desire, but rather for the religious, and decidedly less romantic, Passion. Like dragon fruit, passion fruit’s plant has a showy flower, the elements of which happened to remind Spanish missionaries of the Passion and crucifixion of Christ. The origins of its name might not be filled with ardor, but luckily the fruit’s heady aroma and sweet-tart taste will quickly have you falling head over heels for the fruit anyway.
If you've never tried a passion fruit before, Steven Raichlen’s description in Miami Spice captures it well: “Passion fruit flesh has the tartness of lime juice, the sweetness of honey, the fragrance of jasmine, and a perfumed flavor reminiscent of guava, lychee, and pineapple.” Like mangoes, different growing locations and seasons mean that you should be able to find passion fruit close to year-round.
Choose fruit that feels heavy in your hand. The rind will either be a deep yellow or dark purple, and it’s okay if the fruit looks tired and slumped. The heart might not have wrinkles, but it’s okay (and even preferable) if your passion fruit does. If you buy one when the skin is still smooth, let it sit at room temperature for a few days. Ripe fruits can be refrigerated for a week or two, or you can scoop out the pulp and freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.