Kiwis are being urged to make the most of an influx of passionfruit that will hit supermarket shelves just in time for Valentine’s Day as the soaring cost of air freight has limited export opportunities.
Normally 70% of New Zealand’s passionfruit crop is exported to the United States. But the cost of air freight has tripled thanks to the worldwide pandemic, and greater competition in the US market means most of this summer’s crop will instead be sold right here at home.
This month 5+A Day is launching a Valentine’s Day campaign called ‘would you be my Passiontine?’ to help support our local growers. 5+ A Day Project Manager Carmel Ireland says eating fruit and vegetables that are in season is always best for our health.
Rebekah Vlaanderen, President of NZ Passionfruit Growers Association, says passionfruit grows really well in subtropical climates like Northland, Bay of Plenty and Nelson. “About 50 commercial growers produce 120 tonnes a season, and the bulk of that supply is available between February and April,” she says.
“This year there will be a lot more passionfruit for sale on the domestic market so we’re working closely with wholesalers and encouraging consumers to try this delicious fruit if they haven’t before – there’s no other taste like it!”
The edible flesh and seeds found inside passionfruit contain powerful antioxidants and other nutrients that can boost your immune system and cardiovascular health. They’re also a good source of dietary fibre to keep your gut healthy and help lower your overall cholesterol levels.
Ireland says passionfruit can be cut open and enjoyed all on its own, or the pulpy flesh can be scooped out and added to yoghurt, fruit salads, breakfast cereals, baking, desserts or smoothies. “Now is definitely the time to indulge in this amazing fruit. An overnight passionfruit chia pudding is a delicious and healthy way to say “I love you,” over a Valentine’s Day breakfast.”
Vlaanderen’s tip for when your passionfruit is ready to be eaten is to wait until they are well and truly wrinkled.
“There’s a white pith inside the fruit. As it wrinkles and dehydrates, the pulp draws the sweetness from that pith therefore making your passionfruit delicious to eat.”