Easter and Passion Fruit Are Forever Linked

 

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Today is Good Friday, a national statutory holiday throughout Canada. Good Friday is the Friday just before Easter Sunday and according to Christianity marks the day that Jesus Christ was crucified and died. With that in mind, today we are having a look at one of our favourite yet often overlooked edible gems, the passion fruit. What does the passion fruit have in common with Good Friday you ask? Read on.

Let’s start with the name of this tropical fruit and examine why we associate it with Easter. The purple passion fruit we usually see on our shelves is the small, kiwi fruit-sized pepo (a type of berry) of the passiflora edulis vine native to many countries of South America and now cultivated in many tropical regions of the world. There are hundreds of varieties of passiflora; passiflora means “passion flower” in Latin and edulis means edible. So why is it thus named?

 

Benefits Of Passion Flower (Passiflora Incarnata) For Health (1)

 

When Christian missionaries were proselytizing in South America in the 1700’s, they came across the vine known to the indigenous people as maracujá, a Guarani word meaning “nursery for flies.” Catchy name though it is, the missionaries saw an opportunity to educate the locals and change the narrative. Using plants as symbols to explain Christianity to reluctant converts was nothing new; the Roman/British missionary Saint Patrick is said to have done this to skeptical Irish folk in the fifth century, using the shamrock as a metaphor for the holy trinity.

Noting that the flower had five petals supported by five sepals, the missionaries changed the unflattering name to flor das cinco chagas or “flower of the five wounds, as each flower represented a wound Jesus suffered on the cross; his hands, feet and a wound in his abdomen. The suffering Jesus endured from the last supper to his death is known as “The Passion of Christ. ” Indeed, the word passion itself is from the Latin, patior, meaning ‘to suffer.’ Slide “passion,” “flower,” and “edible” into Latin, the language botanists use to classify plant life and you get passiflora edulis; slip that into English, add a few hundred years and you get passion fruit, a name totally derived from the sufferings of Jesus. For more astonishing symbolism regarding the plant and the passion, check this out.

 

passion fruit jam

passion fruit jam

 

The fruit itself, regardless of nomenclature, is a wonderful and unique food. If this is a fruit you pass over, why not give it a try? Each fruit contains hundreds of small seeds each in its own fleshy and juicy sac. The flavour is citrusy and musky at the same time, similar to guava and other tropical fruits. The seeds have very little flavour and add some nice crunch to the experience, not unlike eating pomegranate seeds. Plus the seeds add extra fibre to your diet.

In South America, it is immensely popular as juice and used in sodas and cordials, and in dessert applications-mousse, cheesecake and ice-cream, or just scooped out from the rind with a spoon and eaten raw. It is makes excellent jams and jelly, especially combined with more substantial fruit like mangoes, peaches or apricots.

When choosing passion fruit, don’t worry if the skin is a little mottled or not perfectly smooth. Wrinkly skin is good, it means the insides are nice and ripe, sweet not sour.

In terms of health, passion fruit is good for you; high in fibre and a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, protein, and antioxidants. With such an interesting history, and so much going for it, maybe it’s time to get passionate about this wonderful fruit.

 

passion fruit cheesecake

passion fruit cheesecake

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