Maracuya is large, round to oblong fruits with thick, bright yellow rinds. They are about 8 centimetres long and 4 centimetres wide. The skin is smooth and may be covered in light yellow specks. Mature fruits will be wrinkled and soft to the touch. Inside is a soft white pith and a large hollow cavity filled with brown, edible seeds encased in the bright yellow, gelatinous pulp. The pulp has an intensely sweet, floral aroma with an acidic taste and tropical flavour.
Maracuya is available in the winter and through the summer months.
Maracuya is the Spanish word for “passionfruit” and generally refers to a large yellow variety grown in South America. Yellow passionfruit are botanically classified as Passiflora edulis and are the most widely cultivated variety in the tropical rainforests of South America. They are well-known for their sour, tropical flavours and beautiful purple flowers that precede them.
Maracuya is rich in vitamins A and C and potassium. They also contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, and a small amount of niacin with thiamine and riboflavin traces. The fruits provide antioxidant and digestive benefits and calming properties.
Maracuya is used in both raw and cooked applications. Freshly scooped pulp and seeds are eaten as is or used atop salads, yogurts, and parfaits. The pulp is separated from the seeds through straining, and the juice is sweetened and used for smoothies, juices, and desserts like sherbet, ice cream and sorbet. The juice is added to dressings and used to make jams, jellies and sauces. It adds colour and tropical flavours when poured over cheesecake, vanilla ice cream or panna cotta. Maracuya will keep up to 5 days at room temperature and up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Maracuya, or Yellow passion fruit, is classified under the botanical name Passiflora edulis forma ‘flavicarpa’, meaning gold or yellow in Latin. At the time it was classified, it presumed there was only one type of yellow passion fruit. Since then, the classification Passiflora laurifolia is also used for yellow fruits. Scientists have recently argued for a change to the terminology, citing too many variations among plants with yellow fruits and a lack of cytological studies. Differences in the size, shape, aroma and flavour of fruits from different growing regions demonstrate the need for a better way to distinguish one variety from the next.
Maracuya is native to South America’s Amazon Rainforest, where they have been cultivated for centuries. However, their origin is unknown; some believe they are a hybrid of P. edulis, the sour purple passionfruit and P. ligularia called ‘sweet granadilla’. Others believe the yellow fruit was a chance mutation discovered in Australia.
Passionfruit was already established in Australia before 1900 and had spread to Hawaii from there by the end of the 19th century. Maracuya was first identified in Brazil in 1932, though recent discussions among botanists have questioned the original classification for the yellow varieties. Maracuya grows well in the hot, tropical low lands of Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Guyana. Yellow passionfruit are also found in the Caribbean and Central America, though they may be different varieties. Maracuya is most likely spotted at markets throughout northern South America.
Recipes include Maracuya Passionfruit. One is easiest; three is harder.