Don’t you absolutely love passion fruit ? It’s probably one of the most interesting fruits to look at, smell, or eat ! These wrinkly babies are delicious, but also downright expensive. But why is that ?
After all where passion fruit grows, it does so in large numbers, so there shouldn’t really be a crop shortage problem. So let’s see why good passion fruit can cost you even $15 per pound.
Why is passion fruit so expensive ?
Passion fruit is expensive because it’s a very finicky crop, and often has to be imported. Aside from this it takes almost two years from seed to the first good, juicy passion fruit harvest.
The vine of a passion fruit is notorious for its sudden change in health, going from apparently fine to wilting within a few days, or it may produce some of the most sour fruits you’ve ever seen.
We’ll touch on all of these important factors in this article, and also tell you what to look for when buying passion fruit. After all, if you’re shelling $2 per fruit (!!!) then you’ll want to get the best ones.
And we’ll also look into growing your own passion fruit, in case you want to have your very own little crop at home.
Passionfruit vines are very finicky, need lots of care
Passion fruit grows on vines, which need a lot of care and special attention. These plants are from a tropical region, meaning they absolutely need plenty of sun, warmth, water, a well drained soil, and plenty of fertilizer.
This puts them on a hypercare list, meaning passionfruit farmers really have to work hard to get a good, delicious crop. It’s not the kind of fruit you only check on ever couple of weeks and then harvest.
Despite all that care, passionfruit may develop fungus or can be hit by disease very easily. This means entire crops are easily lost, and sometimes it’s not obvious exactly what happened.
And to top everything off, the quality of each crop can vary greatly. A good vine can get you sweet, delicious passionfruit one year, and then give you sub-par fruit the next one. Paired with disease, you get a very volatile harvest from year to year.
Some passion fruit plants need bees
Do you remember when we talked about why nuts are so expensive ? One of the reasons was that the trees need to be pollinated by insects, and most often those are bees.
There’s and entire industry around bees and using them for pollination. And this poses its own problems. Truckloads of bees are hauled across America to pollinate this and that crop, which takes a huge toll on bees. They simply vanish from the nests, abandoning them for no apparent reason.
This is a growing concern among bee keepers, and fewer and fewer are willing to rent out their bees for pollination. Which leads to less pollinated passionfruit trees, which leads to less growing fruit.
So there you have it, yet another reason to stop and think before squashing that bug ? It is a bee or a wasp ? Bees are just too helpful, it’s best to let them bee.
Most of the time passion fruit needs to be imported
If you’re in a colder or at least temperate climate, passionfruit can’t really be grown except in hothouses. If you’ve never seen one, they’re just greenhouses with heating and year-round solar lights. Those things cost a lot to maintain.
So often retailers simply import passion fruit, often from the closes tropical country. Some are lucky and have them as neighbors, like America.
Others, like Norway for example, have to import them from several countries away. The longer the distance, the more the transport costs, the more borders there are the more fees there are.
Honestly you’re only going to find almost reasonably priced passionfruit if you live in a country or state that grows them. Examples are New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, California, Hawaii, Sri Lanka, India, Portugal, and so on. If it sounds like someplace you’d vacation, it’s likely got the right climate for passionfruit.
It takes about 2 years to get the first good harvest
Okay so climate and finicky crops aside, there is another thing that passion fruit farmers have to contend with. Passionfruit, like most other fruit, needs a couple of years to reach its full potential.
Form the moment you plant the seed, to the moment it can give you sweet, delicious fruit that’s actually good, it takes almost two years. It does fruit in the meantime, but it’s not as good.
As for how long a passionfruit vines can produce fruit, it’s a wild guess. There ae reports of vines dying off at three years of age, and as far as 10 years of age. Really, it’s a combination of good weather, a good vine, great soil, and luck.
How to pick the best passion fruit
Alright, now if passion fruit is so difficult and expensive, let’s at least pick out the best ones on the shelves. There are a few general points to look out for when picking out passion fruit, so here they are:
- Look for slightly wrinkly, softer fruits. These operate just like figs and avocados, don’t go for the firm ones.
- If you pick them firm, let them ripen for a few days on the counter.
- The fruit should be heavier than it looks, if it’s light it’s likely dried out.
- If they have a green tinge, they definitely need to ripen some more.
- Give it a quick sniff, it should smell like it tastes
You’ll know the passion fruit is ripe and ready to eat when it’s a little wrinkly, the skin has darkened, and if you give it a light squeeze it gives in easily. In fact, if you can pick out avocados then you can pick out passion fruits.
You can grow your own passion fruit in a warm climate
A way to circumvent the whole so-expensive-you’ll-just-skip-them situation is to grow your very own passion fruit. Now, this is no easy feat, we’ve just explained they’re not easy to grow and they might wilt unexpectedly.
Passion fruit really is a wonderful little fruit, but its high price can make you think twice about buying it. Luckily there are substitutes, but if you want to stick with passionfruit, now you know what you’re really paying for.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.