Maracuya is also called yellow passion fruit. But you may be wondering what it tastes like, if it's good for you, and how to eat it. We'll talk about all of that in this post plus share a great recipe resource.
Is Maracuya Passion Fruit?
Yes. Maracuya is a type of passion fruit grown in South America. It's knowns as yellow passion fruit.
There are two main varieties of passion fruit grown commercially. One is purple and the other is yellow (yellowish-green).
- Purple passion fruit: P. edulis f. edulis
- Yellow maracuya: P. edulis f. flavicarpa
This article is about the yellow type P. edulis f. flavicarpa.
The Latin “flavicarpa” means yellow or gold. This type of passion fruit is sometimes called – Ecuador passion fruit.
It is from the Passiflora edulis family of plants and its blossoms are certainly one of the most unique purple flowers I've ever seen.
What does maracuya mean?
The Spanish word “maracuya” translates as passion fruit.
This can make things a little confusing because the passion fruit many North Americans are used to is purple. So, while in Latin America when asking in Spanish for a maracuya some may be thinking of the purple passion fruit but be served yellow passion fruit.
Or perhaps the granadilla (more about that later).
Did you know that passion fruit is not actually a fruit? It is botanically a berry but referred to as a fruit.
Learn more about fruit in Ecuador.
What Does the Maracuya Look Like?
The maracuya fruit is yellow, usually bright yellow or yellowish-green and a little wrinkly when ripe. It is a smooth fruit that looks waxy (shiny) on the outside. It's larger than the purple passion fruit.
The fruit is egg-shaped and can be roughly around 4 or 5 cm (1.5 – 2 in) wide, and 7 or 8 cm (2.5 – 3 in) long, give or take a little.
Inside it's full of dark brown edible seeds that are surrounded by a yellow jelly-like pulp.
What Does Maracuya Taste Like?
Many describe it as tasting stronger and more sour/tart than the purple variety.
It has a tropical flavor said to be similar to a tart mango. The flavor of the seeds and pulp is appealing and can be eaten with or without added sweetener.
When made into a juice or used in dessert recipes sugar is usually added.
Is Sweet Granadilla the Same as Maracuya?
No, maracuya and sweet granadilla are different fruits.
This can be confusing because many use the names interchangeably. This was the case in Ecuador, we heard the same fruit by both names.
They are both members of the Passiflora family and may be easily confused if you don't know what they are called locally.
But they are different, here are the Latin names for both:
- Maracuya: P. edulis f. flavicarpa
- Sweet Granadilla: P. ligularis
Passiflora ligularis is commonly known as granadilla in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru.
The maracuya and granadilla also look and taste different.
Differences Between Maracuya and Granadilla
Not sure how to tell these two fruits apart? Here's what you need to know.
- The maracuya is brighter yellow, heavier, and larger than the granadilla
- The granadilla is a golden yellow, feels hollow/light and tastes sweeter than the granadilla
The granadilla (often called sweet granadilla) is native to the Andes Mountains and is what we were used to eating while in Cuenca. Its pulp and seeds are edible, it's sweet and delicious.
The seeds are dark and the pulp is almost clear. We would cut it open and scoop it out with a spoon, eating just like that, it doesn't need anything added.
Maracuya can be eaten the same way but many prefer adding a little sugar because it tastes more sour/tart than a granadilla.
What is Maracuya Good For? 7 Benefits
Passion fruit, including maracuya has some wonderful health benefits, here are some of them:
- It's high in antioxidants and is great for eye health
- Is high in soluble fiber and helps with digestion
- Passion fruit contains some iron and is high in potassium and vitamin C
- It has a calming effect (said to be due to its magnesium content) so can help with anxiety
- Passion fruit is said to help lower cancer risk
- It can relieve asthma symptoms
- It's high in water content, one article I read said it's 73% water – so it is refreshing.
If you have a latex allergy there may be a risk of an allergic reaction, although rare.
How to Eat Maracuya
This is a pretty easy fruit to prepare. It's not covered in spines or thorns like the prickly pear and some other kinds of tropical fruit. And you can eat the seeds.
All you really need is a knife and a spoon, kind of like eating a kiwi but with bigger seeds and thicker skin. Just cut it open and scoop out the seeds along with the pulp, it's that easy.
It's often consumed as a juice and a dessert topping.
Here are the ingredients for easy passion fruit mousse from a recipe on Laylita.
- 1 2/3 cups of pure passion fruit juice – can also use unsweetened frozen concentrate 1 2/3 cups = 14 oz/400 grams
- ¾ cups of heavy cream 3/4 cup = 14 oz/400 grams
- 14 oz can of condensed milk
- ¼ cup sugar – optional, add less or omit if it's sweet enough with the condensed milk
(Check out Laylita for instructions and other helpful hints in making this recipe.)
Maracuya can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
Will You Try Maracuya?
I've talked about the differences between passion fruit (purple passion fruit) sweet granadilla, and maracuya (yellow passion fruit) in this post, but depending on where you are – any of the above types of passion fruit may be called maracuya..
The type of passion fruit called maracuya (sometimes called Ecuador passion fruit) is usually the bright yellow variety because it's the most common kind in many Latin American countries.
If the country you're visiting has both maracuya and granadilla (sweet granadilla) people will sometimes differentiate, but sometimes they won't because the granadilla is also a type of maracuya.
At the markets in Ecuador some vendors offered us the granadilla calling it maracuya, while others called it granadilla.
The nice thing about it is that they are all similar, so you're in for a nice tropical fruit experience either way. But if I had to choose I would go with the granadilla, it's my favorite. 🙂
Have you tasted passion fruit in Ecuador, or perhaps seen the passionflower? Please share your experience by commenting on this post.
If you'll be shopping at local markets in Ecuador you may want to check out our post about how to handle your money. And if you'll be bringing back some souvenirs (who doesn't) learn more about the best things to buy in Ecuador.