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Passionfruit is beloved for its sweet and tart tropical taste

Lilikoi or passionfruit is one of the most popular and most common fruits here in Hawaii. Even though a lot of people have a passionfruit vine in their backyard, these fruits never grow old in the hearts of tropical residents and guests. They also grow subtropical climates too (there are slightly different varieties). Still, in California they are not very common where these little fruits with long shelf lives sell for $20 a pound in specialty store. I’ve never bought one in 7 years of living in Hawaii.

Sometimes you or your friend’s vine is bumping sometimes it’s not. Right now, November 2017 our vines are dropping over 20 fruits a day. If you’d like to buy some fresh passion fruits (Big Island only) or passionfruit seeds online please contact me and check out our farm website, www.ainaexotics.com.

Detailed information on Passionfruit

Latin Name and family: Passiflora Edulis And Passiflora Edulis F. Flavicarpa (tropical)

Other names: maracuyá parcha in Spanish , grenadille or fruit de la passion in French, maracujá in Portuguese, and lilikoʻi in Hawaiian.

In Hawaii there are various varieties of passionfruit that are somewhat common, and always called lilikoi. Purple Lilikoi and Yellow or Common Lilikoi are both Passiflora Edulis. However things called lilikoi in Hawaii are a different species. For example,  Jamaican Lilikoi is Passiflora laurifolia (it has a different shape, milder taste and aroma and a soft outer skin). And Giant lilikoi or Giant granadilla, is Passiflora quadrangular is.

Jamaican Lilikoi
Giant Lilikoi

Characteristics of the passion fruit’s fruit: 

The fruit is almost round or ovoid, and it is usually 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide. It has a tough, pithy rind that is smooth and waxy. Inside, the aromatic pulp is like membranous sacs containing orange-colored, pulpy juice. One passion fruit can have more than 200 small, hard, and dark seeds. The yellow variety of passionfruit has generally larger fruit than the purple.

Yellow or Common Lilikoi (Passionfruit)

Passionfruit Taste and Culinary Uses:

Passionfruit has a characteristically sweet and tart, aromatic, tropical flavor.  The purple variety is less acid and less tart and contains more juice than the yellow variety. It can be eaten in so many ways. In Hawaii lilikoi is a very common flavoring. Most often you see lilikoi syrup (for pancakes or shaved ice), lilikoi butter, lilikoi cocktails, passion flavored iced-teas. Many people use it in desserts like lilikoi frosting, glaze, lilikoi flavored cheesecake, mocha, or ice cream. Passionfruit pulp can be frozen in ice cube trays overnight and then stored in the freezer for a quick addition to a smoothie. Papaya is even better with fresh lilikoi pulp than with lime. We’ve also really enjoyed eating Rollinia (Rollinia deliciosa) pulp with fresh passionfruit pulp. Chef’s use the tart taste for marinades and other accompaniments to main dishes.

Check out these recipes which incorporate passionfruit: green smoothie love, guava passionfruit green smoothie, fresh papaya and passionfruit, oat flour banana bread with passionfruit cream cheese frosting

Passiflora edilus Harvest and Storage

Passionfruit ripens on the vine in 80-90 days after pollination. They change from green to yellow, orange or purple.  They then fall to the ground and their hard outer shell protects their integrity. Then it is best to wash, dry and store them at room temperature where they may last up to 2-3 weeks. They will become crinkly, but as long as they don’t mold or get too soft they are still delicious and edible and sometimes even more sweet. Refrigeration may prolong life if they are completely ripened and have sat at room temperature a few days after falling from the vine.

This is a unripe purple lilikoi fruit hanging from a vine in on our farm

Health benefits of Passionfruit:

The pulp of the raw passion fruit is 73% water, 22% carbohydrates, 2% protein and 0.7% fat. In 100 gram serving, one can find 36% daily value (DV) of Vitamin C, which helps it’s anti-oxidant properties. Lilikoi also has 42% dietary fiber in one 100 gram serving, this helps to strengthen and regulate your digestive system and relieve or prevent constipation. Also, Passion fruit is rich in Vitamin A and Carotenoids, which help with eyesight. Furthermore, it contains a lot of potassium, which helps reduce blood pressure and increase circulation. In addition, the oil of the passion fruit flower and seeds is medicinal used as an emollient, anti-inflammatory, and to help aid sleep. One can make a fresh tea from the flowers to help with insomnia.

Growth patterns of Passiflora edulis:

Passiflora edilus is a fast growing vigorous vine. Not a tree! It grows best in tropical and subtropical climates. These plants like full sun, except in extremely hot climates where partial shade is ok. Passionfruit can grow in many soil types but it prefers light to heavy sandy loams with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. They have shallow roots, but extensive roots so heavy mulching is preferable.

In the United States Passiflora edulis grows well in parts of California and Florida and Hawaii. The vine can extend 15 to 20 ft. per year and the life of a vine is usually 5-7 years, with productivity declining in the later years. The flowers are fragrant and 2-3 inches wide. They are best pollinated by carpenter bees, but honey bees do ok and wind is also a suitable method of pollination.

This picture shows the passionfruit vine has completely taken over one of our invasive trees to use as a trellis

For planting, fresh seeds are best and germination occurs usually in 10-20 days. However, once the pulp is rinsed from the seeds and the seeds are dried they start go dormant. Once they are dormant they take a long time to germinate or special practices to break the dormancy, like using fine sandpaper or soaking in citrus juice. Propagation can also done by cuttings with 3-4 nodes or by grafting. Pruning not only helps keep the vine from spreading too much, some believe it also produces more vigorous growth which will result in a larger harvest. They require regular watering, with really good drainage.

Resources/Further Reading

  1. http://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/growing-passionfruit.html
  2. https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/passionfruit.html
  3. Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 320-328.
  4. Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 66-68.
  5. Popenoe, Wilson. Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Hafner Press. 1974. Facsimile of the 1920 edition. pp. 241-245.
  6. Samson, J. A. Tropical Fruits. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical. 1986. pp. 2291-295.
  7. Vanderplank, John. Passion Flowers and Passion Fruit. MIT Press.1991. pp. 85-88.
  8. http://oilhealthbenefits.com/maracuja-oil/
  9. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/passion-fruit.html

 

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