One taste of the maypop passion fruit, and your taste buds will start to sing. The maypop is ready to savor when it turns from a bright green color to a yellow-orange. This antioxidant-rich purple fruit contains 15 to 20 calories, has heart-healthy benefits, and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. The maypop got its name because of the loud "popping" sound it makes when stepped on. Eaten alone or combined with other fruits, poultry, vegetables or milk, the maypop is a special treat that is enjoyed late summer through fall.
The maypop, which has a vibrant purple flower, grows abundantly in sunny areas such as Hawaii, California and Florida, but they can also be found as far north as Pennsylvania, west to Kansas, south to Texas and in Bermuda. When the fruit forms, from March through September, it falls to the ground when ripe. Harvesters collect the ripe fruit and put them in boxes with adequate air circulation. However, if you pick the fruit from a tree, make sure your selection has slightly wrinkly skin and is light-green to yellow-orange in color for the best taste. Store it in a cool, dry spot for a week or two.
Munching on the Maypop
The maypop's green skin is edible raw, but it's not a popular choice as too many can cause burns in your mouth. Better options include cooking the rind or simply eating the insides plain. First, wash the outside peel with soap and water, and rinse it thoroughly. Cut the fruit in half lengthwise. Simply take a spoon and scoop out the seeds and jelly-like insides. You can either eat the seeds or strain them out through a cheesecloth. A maypop's flavor is described as "appealing, musky, guava-like and sub-acid to acid," reports Purdue researcher Julia F. Morton.
Loving the Liquid
After scooping out the insides of the maypop, add some water and orange or pineapple juice to a blender. Sprinkle in some sugar to taste. Add some more fruit, a few ice cubes and the insides of the maypop. Blend for a minute and then enjoy a nutritious cold drink. You can also make a simple syrup by adding the insides of the maypop to a pan with sugar and water. Boil and reduce until it forms into a tasty sauce for candy, ice cream, cake filling or cold fruit soup.
Spreading the Love
Another tasty way to eat maypop is to add water, sugar and pectin to it, and then spread the fruit on toast or a biscuit as you would jelly. You can also mix it into another spread, such as cream cheese, to give the cheese a slightly fruity flavor and to reap the antioxidant benefits. Add the maypop to a relish with tomatoes and peppers. Simply chop the ingredients, add olive oil, garlic, cilantro and the vinegar of your choice. Scoop some maypop into the mixture and eat on crackers or petit toast.
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