The purple passion fruit is native from southern Brazil through Paraguay to northern Argentina. In Australia the purple passion fruit was flourishing and partially naturalized in coastal areas of Queensland before 1900. In Hawaii, seeds of the purple passion fruit, brought from Australia, were first planted in 1880 and the vine came to be popular in home gardens.
The purple passion fruit is subtropical and prefers a frost-free climate. The nearly round or ovoid fruit, 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide, has a tough rind that is smooth and waxy and ranging in hue from dark purple with faint, fine white specks, to light yellow or pumpkin-color. Within is a cavity more or less filled with an aromatic mass of double walled, membranous sacs containing orange-colored, pulpy juice and as many as 250 small, hard, dark brown or black, pitted seeds. The unique flavor is appealing, musky, guava-like and sweet/tart to tart. The yellow form has generally larger fruit than the purple, but the pulp of the purple is less acid, richer in aroma and flavor, and has a higher proportion of juice (35-38%).
With a sensational name like passion fruit, I was expecting something a little more grandiose, say, like a dragon fruit. But looks aren’t everything because passion fruits or chanh dây are far more interesting in the flavor department than a dragon fruit could ever dream of being.
Purple on the outside and golden yellow with a sprinkling of black seeds on the inside, passion fruits are primarily used for making juice in Saigon. The city’s beverage vendors are often heavy handed with the sugar, so make sure to specify ít đường (less sugar) when placing your order.