Passion fruits (maracuyá in Spanish) are a niche agricultural product that is consumed worldwide. Produced along tropical and subtropical regions around the world, passion fruit has become a highly priced agricultural good in developed markets, which can be sold processed or in its natural form. This article explores some the qualities of passion fruit as a food as well as its particular agricultural characteristics.
The Benefits of Passion Fruit Cultivation
The passion fruit is endemic to South America and grows in both warm and temperate climates. There are two main varieties of passion fruit, yellow or golden and dark purple, both of which have a sour and aromatic taste. The yellow passion fruit can grow up to the size of a grapefruit and has a smooth round shape. Meanwhile, the purple passion fruit tends to be the size of a lemon and has rougher edges. Passion fruit is a healthy and nutritious food. Some of its health benefits include providing significant levels of non-heme iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Furthermore, passion fruit seeds and pulp contain significant amount of fiber. Passion fruit can be consumed as a raw fruit, by eating its pulp, or it can be processed into a nutritious juice as well as tasty jams and desserts. Furthermore, when cooked, the outer shell of the passion fruit can also be consumed.
Passion fruit cultivation normally takes place all year long and requires a warm or temperate climate as well as sunlight and irrigation. In tropical regions north of the equator, yellow passion fruit crops mature about twice a year. The first production cycle peaks towards May and the second harvest takes place between July and December. Normally, the best months for passion fruit yield are from August through November. When ripe, passion fruits fall off the tree branches if they are not handpicked, because of their grown weight. Therefore, permanent crop fields should be tended to daily during the harvesting seasons in order not to lose any passion fruit because of spoilage on the ground. Once picked, the passion fruit should be kept in open storage areas and units that allow free air circulation. Otherwise, if kept in hermetically closed spaces, the fruit will spoil.
Some passion fruit operations, or a part of the crop output within them, are destined to manufacture and processing. Whereas others are sold as raw fruit in grocery or organic stores. In general, the yields of commercial plantations range from 20,000 to 35,000 pounds of passion fruit per acre. Similarly, when hand pollination is employed, 36 acres (15 hectares) will yield approximately 6.6 tons of fruit per year. Normally, a bushel of passion fruit weights about 36 pounds. When processed, those 36 pounds of fruit yield about 13.3 pounds of passion fruit pulp. In turn, that same amount of pulp produces around one (1) gallon or ten (10) pounds of passion fruit juice. Likewise, when the fruit juice is separated from the pulp, there are about 2.6 pounds of seeds leftover. Both the juice and the seeds of the passion fruit can be sold separately for commercial and culinary use.