Maracuja - The Miracle Fruit we know as Passion Fruit
The first time I was introduced to passion fruit was when I was reading through a Tiki cocktail book as I was exploring how passion fruit syrup would taste. I have to confess being from the Czech Republic, you do not come across tropical fruits very often. At least not when I was growing up and the rare occurrences of tropical fruit were only during winter with a limited offering of kiwi, orange and pineapple to name a few. The biggest confusion occurred for me when my Brazilian ex-colleagues that I used to work with in London, informed me that fresh maracuja juice can be used for passion fruit syrup. This confusion re-occured recently, when it came to my attention again when I was shopping in one of the local street markets here in Singapore.
So, Maracuja is the Portuguese name for Passion fruit, which is a vine species of passionflower. The passionflower or Maracuja if you like, is grown across tropical and subtropical parts of the world native to South American countries like Brazil, Argentina as well as tropical countries such as Zimbabwe, and Kenya. Passionfruit has become a big part of the diet for people of Vietnam, Thailand, and India.
There are several different species of passion flower which grow a type of berry, without hard stones but with soft seeds, similar to grapes, gooseberries, and many other pepos that we all know as passion fruit. Passion fruit is either yellow or dark purple colour depending on maturity with a soft juice interior filled with numerous seeds. There is also a passion flower that bears large green fruit called “giant granadilla” which could lead to an article all its own, but that’s a story for another day.
The pulp and seasoning earned its respect from local people for its diverse use across different industries such as beauty, health, and F&B. Passion fruit is either eaten or freshly juiced, cooked into desserts, jams or implemented into salad seasoning. The passion fruit flower has become a national flower of Paraguay and has even debuted in music, with a hip hop song called “passionfruit” released in 2017, by an artist called Drake. So, isn’t this a miracle fruit?
When you select passion fruit remember that passion fruit with yellow colour pulp will be sourish and fruit with the dark purple colour shell will be more fragrant and sweeter. Both will work well in cocktails. I love to use the sour Maracuja juice instead of lime or lemon and here is a cocktail recipe for you to enjoy at home.
50 ml Brazilian cachaca
15 ml Agave Syrup
40 ml Maracuja/ Passion Fruit juice (sour)
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice, add ice quickly, shake and strain into whiskey glass over ice.
2. Garnish with halved passion fruit sprinkled with caster sugar and touch of chili.
Passion Fruit Iced Tea
150 ml English Breakfast Tea*
30 ml Passion Fruit Syrup**
6 Mint Leafs
15 ml Fresh Lime Juice
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add as much ice as a possible and hard shake. 2. Strain into a tall glass, garnish with mint spring.
* You can exchange English Breakfast for any other types of teas such as Lapsang Souchong (smoked black tea) or delicate Assam black tea or perhaps Genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice) or sparkling water.
** Passion Fruit Syrup
500 gr Fresh Passion Fruit
500 gr Still Water
300 gr Caster Sugar
1. Combine sugar & water in a saucepan and cook on low heat until sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved take off the heat.
2. Cut the passion fruit in half and spoon out the juicy flesh with seeds into the cooked syrup.
3. Stir in with the syrup and let it sit for 3 hours at room temperature.
4. Once infused, heat up on low temperature (to help strain the liquid and separate) and strain through the sieve to separate seeds.
5. Bottle the syrup, cool down in room temperature and label and keep refrigerated.
This syrup will last for months when kept refrigerated.