Passion fruit vine is a tropical to sub-tropical plant that thrives in warm climate and cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. There are two kinds of passion fruit – purple and yellow. The purple kind ripens earlier than its yellow counterpart. Actually, the ripening time for passion fruits depends upon the species, climatic conditions and the time of its planting.
How to decide the best time for picking the fruit
Passion fruit has variable ripening time. The purple variety is more tolerant to cooler climate and ripens much later than the yellow passion fruit. Crops growing in warmer areas have a quicker ripening period.
Fruits start to grow on vines that are around a year old or in some cases three years. However, warmer regions may see an early crop. The yellow passion fruit blooms from April to November and the purple species from March through April. The fruit bearing and ripening is after 70-80 days after pollination. This technically implies that the purple variety is ready for picking by end of summer and early fall. The yellow passion fruit is ready for harvesting in winter.
Harvesting passion fruit
Passion fruit is one that does not need monitoring for harvesting, as the fruit is seldom plucked from the vine. It is a clear indication that the passion fruit is ready for harvesting when it falls off the vine on its own after totally ripe. So as such, passion fruit is collected from the ground and then consumed or processed. Falling from the vine has no major impact on the fruit and it does not get damaged. One just needs to pick it up soon enough so that it does not get shriveled up by heat.
You know the time has come to harvest the fruit from the vine when it turns plump and has a wonderful shade of golden yellow or deep purple. Initially the raw passion fruits are green in color. Slightly wrinkled fruits are over ripe and are much sweeter in taste and rich in aroma.
In order to detect the fallen fruit, it is advisable to keep the area under the vines clear at all times. While picking ripe fruits from the vine, a gentle twist is all that is needed to separate the fruit from the vine. Green passion fruits will not ripen well after picking. However, the ripe ones get sweeter and have deeper flavor if left untouched for long time.
Storage and usage of passion fruit
The fruit that has been harvested needs to be stored well for prolonged use. After picking, the fruit can remain in the refrigerator for more than a week. However, it needs to be placed in a box or crate for the air to circulate freely and keep the fruits fresh. Storing the fruits in bags may hamper aeration and thus mold can form on the fruits making them inedible.
For long time storage, it is better to wash and dry the fruits and then put them in mesh bags and store in the crisper compartment in the refrigerator. Commercial growers need to preserve fruit for marketing or export and thus they coat the fruit with paraffin wax so that it remains fresh and undamaged while shipping. The fruit remains fresh for around 30 days in the coated condition.
Passion fruit tastes best when fully ripe and for this you can leave the ripe, picked fruit on the kitchen counter and allow maturing it a bit more. It will be noticed that the fruit is sweeter and has more balanced taste.
Being an aromatic fruit, passion fruit has many uses in culinary art. The most common being juice or squash. Nonetheless, the fruit adds great flavor to desserts, ice-creams and variety of dishes.
Get more tips on our Passion Fruit Farming Guide.