My Life in Peru

An Expat Mom Shares Her Experiences with Peruvian Life, Travel and Food

Granadilla, Maracuya and Passion Fruit

Posted on | February 24, 2011 | 8 Comments

Purple and yellow passion fruits, side by side...

Image via Wikipedia

Granadilla and maracuya are two very popular fruits in Peru. There’s been a lot of confusion over what to call them in English though. Some people call one or the other of them passion fruit, while others declare that neither are passion fruit, because passion fruit is purple. So I put my investigative mind to the task, and this is what I found.

It turns out the two are in the same genre of plants – passiflora (or pasiflora, depending on where you look). That part is pretty easy to believe, since in appearance they are very similar. They both grown on a vining plant, and both produce medium sized roundish fruit that has a hard outer shell and a somewhat gelatinous interior flesh full of seeds.

Granadilla is my favorite of the two. It’s is a native plant that is grown from Peru right up to Mexico in subtropical climates and does best at higher altitudes. Its common English name is in fact sweet granadilla, although there are some places in Africa where it is known as passion fruit. It’s been cultivated in Peru since prehistoric times, and is used in juices, soft drinks, deserts and cocktails as well as being eaten fresh.Typically, the interior flesh is sucked out and swallowed entire, without chewing up the seeds.

Peruvians jokingly call it “moco fruit” (moco meaning.. um, snot) because of the texture. Your Peruvian mother in law will tell you that it’s very good for the digestion and should be eaten before a meal to help the rest of your food move along. It’s one of the first foods given to babies (without the seeds) because of its sweet flavor and digestive properties.

Maracuya (shown with a purple passion fruit above)is one of the few tastes of Peru that I don’t like. Call me crazy, but to me it has the flavor and odor of something that’s been in the fridge a bit too long. Maracuya is passiflora edulis, a true passion fruit, the same as the purple passion fruit that most foreigners are familiar with.

So why is it yellow?

As far as I can find, nobody knows! There’s a theory that it is some sort of mutant hybrid of the purple passion fruit with the grenadilla, but that theory has not been proven. Suffice to say that maracuya IS a passionfruit, although in English it’s usually called a yellow passionfruit to differentiate it from its purple brethren. It’s used in all kinds of recipes, from juices to ice cream to jellos and liquers. There’s a very popular drink called the maracuya sour, which is basically a flavored pisco sour.

So there you go – now you know the scoop on granadilla and maracuya. :)

To make a juice of either one (called aguitos or aguaditos), use 4-5 fruit for a liter of water. Cut the fruit in half and empty the flesh into the blender. Add half the water and pulse to help separate the seeds from the pulp. You want to make sure you aren’t liquefying the seeds! Strain this through a fine colander to remove all the seeds. Return to the blender with the rest of the water, blend it a bit, then add sugar to taste – around 3 tablespoons is a good starting point.



  • Sweet Granadilla – Morton, J. 1987. Sweet Granadilla. p. 330–331. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL
  • Passionfruit – Morton, J. 1987. Passionfruit. p. 320–328. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.


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8 Responses to “Granadilla, Maracuya and Passion Fruit”

  1. Natalia
    February 24th, 2011 @ 16:21

    Granadilla is a good fruit believe me. If you like mandarinas too you would like to drink mandarina/granadilla juice. Just blend pupl of granadilla and mandarina together with some water and sugar. Then sift it in a glass and enjoy. It´s delicious. You should try. Greetings.

  2. Kelly
    February 24th, 2011 @ 16:24

    Wow, that sounds really good. I do like mandarinas, so I’ll definitely give it a try!

  3. Maria
    March 10th, 2011 @ 12:39


    I remember the first time my husband and young son saw a granadilla. We were at the Sheraton’s breakfast buffet. They were horrified, while I was eating it. LOL It is delicious, but the comments my son said about what the inside of the fruit looks like, I cannot repeat them (but they were funny).

  4. reid
    December 24th, 2012 @ 18:09

    Good article. After just finishing a wonderful plate of milanesa de pollo with salsa maracuya, I looked up this fruit and ran across this article. My Peruvian wife tells me she has never heard the fruit referred to a “moco” or any other kind of excrement. In fact she’s never heard of any food referred to in such a manner. It may have been the writers source that was “messing around” with him. Jokes like this on foreigners are very common in Peru. Furthermore, It’s spelled Granadilla with an “A” not Gren….I guess she felt she need to set the record strait. Like I said….good article.

  5. Kelly
    December 24th, 2012 @ 18:20

    You’re absolutely right, I did spell it wrong – thanks for pointing it out :)

    I can assure you though, I’ve heard quite a few people refer to it as “moco” – usually kids, or people joking around with kids. I didn’t mean to imply that people would go to the store and ask for it by that name.

  6. reid
    December 24th, 2012 @ 18:55

    My wife tends to split hairs over stuff involving her home country. Like I said, good article!

  7. reid
    December 24th, 2012 @ 18:57

    Where do you buy this fruit in the Pac NW? I’d like to make my own

  8. Kelly
    December 26th, 2012 @ 13:45

    I’m glad she’s a hair splitter – it’s been wrong for almost a year and no one else said anything!

    I’m not sure where you can find it up there – perhaps a Latin Market? Anywhere there’s any sort of Latin community, there’s bound to be a market. Or, look in your grocery store or Whole Foods for passion fruit.

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    I got tired of life happening while I made other plans, so I quit my job and came to Peru. I live here with my Peruvian husband, two sons, three dogs and various other family members, depending on the weather.

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