Passionate about Passion Fruit
What are you passionate about? Have you every stopped and just thought about that question? Well I definitely know my answer, it’s food. I could spend the whole day dreaming and thinking about food. Cooking is my form of expression, it’s my outlet and it allows me to connect with others. One food that connects all Colombians together is a simple fruit that can be found in every market, supermarket, grocery store, street market or food cart- el maracuyá (mar-ah-koo-jah), the passion fruit.
El maracuyá is a fruit that is typically cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical areas such as: South America, Hawaii, Central America and in some parts of the United States. The color generally varies from a dark purple color to a goldish-greenish yellow color as pictured above. The leaves of this fruit can be used for various medicinal purposes: menstrual cramps, colic or as a sedative.
Here in Colombia, you will generally see the pulp of this fruit used in juices, jams, jellies, smoothies and desserts. Because el maracuyá is so easily accessible, the purchasing price of it in the local market is comparable to buying apples at your local grocer. Anyone could walk right into a Wal-Mart, Harris Teeter, Piggly Wiggly, Path Mart or any supermarket chain and buy apples for practically nothing. But finding passion fruit in the States isn’t as economical nor easy. Well here, it’s just the opposite. Apples aren’t as inexpensive around here because most are imported, however, passion fruit is so inexpensive that you could buy a pound of them for about $.50. That’s right, $50 cents or $800 COP. Feeling like making a move down south?
The “shell” of the fruit is generally hard and has to be cut upon with a knife, cutting at the diameter of the fruit. Once open you just scoop out the pulp with a spoon. If making a juice, you just spoon the pulp into the blender with water and blend on high. Pour the blended pulp into a sieve and drain. Add the desired amount of sugar to the juice and serve. The pulp on its own is very sour. Therefore depending on your desired taste you generally have to add a sufficient amount of sugar to the juice in order to make it sweet.
Now to the tricky part, ‘How do I pick out a ripe one?’ My husband, the master of all things Colombian, gave me a 101 class on how to pick out the best maracuyá. Whether or not the skin is wrinkled or not really isn’t a determining factor. Although some grandmothers would argue that the more wrinkles it has the more ripe it is. I disagree and so does my husband. The trick is weighing it. No need to pull out a scale, just weigh it in your hand. If you feel that it heavy, then that means it’s fully ripe and has a great amount of pulp in it. If not, put it back. If you’re going to pay a lot for it, it’s best to get more bang for your buck.
All this talk about passion fruit just reminded me that I better get back into the kitchen and whip up some jugo de maracuyá (passion fruit juice) for my husband before he gets home. It’s only the most common juice here in Colombia aside from the blackberry (mora), guanabana (guanabana), and guava (guayaba) juices. In the meantime check out this recipe for passion fruit pudding. Maybe I’ll post about these three juices and more in future posts. Stay tuned.