Kauai Exotic Fruit 1

Bright Pink Dragonfruit

So this is a big subject.    At first glance, you might think this is all about coconuts and bananas, papayas and mangoes.    But there’s so much more to exotic fruit on Kauai!      There’s rambutan, mangosteen, ulu (breadfruit), jackfruit, lychee, egg fruit, tamarind, tangelo and even more.    Have the fruit on Kauai in smoothies or just enjoy the delicious taste of exotic fruit!   I thought this would be just one post, but realised there’s so much fruit that it requires three posts so here goes with Kauai Exotic Fruit  1.

Also due to the long list, I’m going for alphabetical order.

Avocado

Avocadpes on the Tree Kauai

Avocadoes on the Tree – Magical Kauai!

Is there anyone who doesn’t love Avocado?   I mean, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t … but perhaps there’s someone out there!

And on Kauai, oh the Avocadoes are amazing!   Huge, creamy varieties that are just delicious.   The main Avo season on Kauai is Oct – Jan, but clever farmers have found other varieties that grow year so so you can always find ripe or almost ripe avos.    Eat by themselves, put in salads, make scrummy guacamole…. yep Avos are definitely on the list of Kauai Exotic Fruit 1!

Some people put them in smoothies too.. or just mash them up and add fruit juice in a glass.  Endlessly adaptable and wonderful.   And good for you too!

Bananas

“yes, we have no bananas” comes to mind.   Most young people won’t even know that song!    But Kauai has tons of bananas… but not just any old bananas,…. really tasty, yummy bananas that taste as they are supposed to taste:  creamy, sweet and yum!    My personal favorite are the apple bananas that have an even sweeter.

I come from Europe originally and bananas over there are … just not bananas really.   They have been frozen and unfrozen and they taste… nothing like the bananas here on island!   I’m afraid to say same thing on the mainland US.

I have watched visitors in Safeway buying Dole bananas or bananas imported from elsewhere.   ????    don’t do that folks!    Go to the farmers markets and stands and get the real thing!   No pesticides and as Mother Nature intended.    They taste like bananas!!!

Bananas are just delicious really are they not?   My daughter has an 11 month old and mashing up banana for her had me remembering my Mother doing the same for me when I was a baby/toddler.   It’s the first fruit given to babies (along with apples) because it’s so sweet and when mashed, easy to digest too.    All kids love bananas!

And they are so versatile.   Peel a banana and eat it.  Put it in smoothies, fruit salads, cakes.   I’m vey grateful for the wonderful banana and particularly for all the wonderful varieties we have here on Kauai.    Just go to the local farmer’s markets and see the difference between one bunch and the next.

There’s nothing like either cutting down your own banana plant and eating a fresh banana right off the plant!    Bananas are truly one of Kauai’s Exotic fruits to eat as often as you can!

Cacao

Cacao Pod on the tree

Cacao Pod on the tree at the Kauai Farmacy

Naturally the cocoa plant like most of the fruit grown on Kauai is not native.   However, there are many people now growing cocao and using it in everything from tea, medicinal preparations and of course making chocolate.   It’s become one of the Kauai Fruit that’s readily available on the island.   We have all heard that saying that Chocolate was (and is) considered “food for the gods” but according to the Kauai Farmacy, there is a rich tradition of medicinal :L& sacred use and its hearling properties include helping maingaain a healthy heart and is high in vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, folate and B6.  High in minerals: Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.    That’s aside from the fact that it increases your serotonin and dopomine levels (those wonderful things associated with pleasure!) .   Look for it in tea and several other prdocus at the amazing  Kauai Farmacy .   If you would just like to sample some Kauai made chocolate and try some of the chocolate from the Garden Island Chocolate in Kilauea  or Lydgate’s Farm in Kapa’a..   The Cacao plant actually has some incredibly healthy attributes.    What was that about chocolate?   It’s good for you?

Coconuts

The image of a Palm Tree gently swaying against the setting sun is almost synonimous with Hawaii and Kauai.    And yes, you do see the Cocos against the Sun around the island.    Cocos, whilst not indigenous have been growing on the Hawaiian islands for many hundreds of years.

 

Coconuts & Coco water

Coconuts and Coco Water

In recent times, the health benefits of drinking fresh Coco water have been discovered – and profited from by companies selling “coco” water     Whilst that is wonderful it’s so much better to taste the real thing; meaning stop by the side of the road and have a local open a coco and hand it to you with a straw.    The sweet water of a young coconut is delicious!   As is the young flesh which is more jelly like in substance than the more mature meat.

All of the Polynesian peoples valued the Coconut and used every bit of it.  They innately knew of its health benefits which are so countless but here’s just a few :  Coconut water actually hydrates the body (it has electrolytes that ) Coconuts are anti-viral and anti fungal.  Cocos  boost our  immune system and for those interested in maintaining weight, they increase your metabolism thus assisting that too.

The ancient Hawaiians have used the trunk of Coconuts to make ceremonial drums for eons.   I recall a story told to me by my Kumu Hula about just that (another post!) .  We’ve all seen bowls and cups made out of the shells and the bark is used for rope, mats,, anything rope can be used for….. even the leaves are used to weave into baskets.   They are so strong.    Ever tried pulling a palm frond off a coconut?      The husks were spun into rope and used to tie Hawaiian canoes …. they don’t rot in the ocean water.

Nowadays, the health industry has unfortunately stepped in to market “coco water” but what you buy in the health food store on the mainland is nothing compared to fresh coco water in situ.   Even if it’s “organic” .   LIkewise the ancient polyneisan peoples used the coco oil to rub on their skin, their hair and for medicinal uses but again, pure oil here is different to those “organic” or not coco oil beauty products.

The Coconut, an extraordinary fruit, what a gift!   Make sure you try some fresh coco water and meat when you are on Kauai – it’s perhaps the ultimate example of Kauai Exotic Fruit 1/

Dragonfruit

Bright Pink Dragonfruit

Bright Pink Dragonfruit

Just the name inspires visions and emotions!    There’s a dragonfruit?   Does it look like a dragon?   Well no actually.   No idea why it’s called Dragonfruit but it looks beautiful!   Going back and reading that sentence, I did some research and it appears that one opinion is that the name comes from the shape of the yellow flowers variety which tumble down and appear to be like a Dragon’s breath whilst another is that it is due to a legend about a Dragon breathing its last breath of the fruit before expiring.   Whichever it is… the name is exotic enough.

It’s pink!   What could be better and one of the varieties haa flesh that is dark purple in color and quite outstandingly yummy.   The other has white flesh.

Dragonfruit is said to have come from Mexico originally and then spread to Central and South America (where it is known as Pitaya), Hawaii and most of the rest of Polynesia and beyond.

Ah and the flower of the Dragonfruit is spectacular!      It flowers at night so you have to be up late or very early to see its true beauty.

When in season you will see brightly colored purple smoothies all over the island – not the result of frozen blackberries but of fresh Dragonfruit.  There are different varieties of Dragonfruit; here on Kauai we have both the ones with the deep magenta flesh and the pure or off white flesh.   Both types have little black seeeds which are edible.   The magenta variety has more taste but both are rather delicate and delicious.    You have to try.   I love them.

Egg Fruit

The first time I tried Egg fruit I thought :  hmmm.  Not sure.  It’s creamy, it does have the shape of an egg or actually more like a thick egg custard.   I suppose you might say it has a vague taste of an egg.    It’ has a texture which is creamy yet also…. I’m search for the word… thick maybe?   There’s resistance when you bite in.   I like it but it’s the kind of fruit that I could I couldn’t eat much of.

It’s high in carotene and also in Vitamin C and Niacin.  You can cook it too and add it to smoothies.   .  Known as Yellow Sapote or “canistel” in some parts of the world.

It’s great for making cream pies, adding to smoothies or adding to a fruit salad

Guava

Guava Fruit on Kauai

Guava played a huge part in the economy of Kauai for probably a hundred years.   The last guava plantation (Guava Kai Plantation in Kilauea) only closed its doors in about 2006.   Up until that point, the Plantation was responsible for half Hawaii’s state production of Guavas.    Presumably that was not enough to stay in business and in 2006 it became “Common Ground” (or 47 acres of it did, with the rest being sold to individual parties.

But lots of people love Guava and it still grows wild.   I”ve even found it in Kalalau!

The yellow fruit with its distinct pink/red flesh inside is delicious to eat by itself and add to smoothies, fruit salads and mix with other fruits.    The wood of the tree is particularly lovely; hard and mottled and used by the Hawaiians for hundreds of years to make “Kala’au” the sticks which Hula dancers knock together during mele (songs).

According to the Kauai Farmacy, Guava stimulates good digestion and soothes coughs and colds and lowers cholestorol, to name but a few.

JackFruit

Jackfruit comes from the same family as the Ulu (breadfruit) and fig trees.  It comes from Southeast Asia originally and is not to be confused with the Durian.    Jackfruit has quite a sweet smell, whereas if you have ever smelt a Durian… not so sweet!

Jackfruit is big, bigger than Ulu and more oblong in shape.    It can be eaten raw or cooked and it tastes . hmm . quite sweet, a bit like bananas.    I have never tasted a very young jackfruit but many say it takes like “pulled pork”.   So I probably won’t try.   But that means at this stage it is great for making meals and it’s very nutritious and low in calories.

There’s a company called ‘the Jackfruit Company” who extole the virtues of jackfruit far better than I could ever do.    As they point out, not only is it the biggest tree borne fruit in the world, it also produces the most and as such is a contender for providing people with food at no impact to the environment (actually a positive impact) and more.      As the Jackfruit company says . “you can eat it like a fruit, meat or veggie!”   That is versatile.

Jamaican Lilikoi

aaah…. Sweet!    Jamaican Lilikoi is even sweeter than the regular kind found on Kauai.   Very sweet, just delicious!   A. darker orange skin and more of an oval than it’s counterpart.   If you are not already familiar with Jamaican Lilikoi, you may just  fall in love.   I certainly did.   One of my top 3 fruits.

It does not have the “tart” flavor of the regular yellow lilikoi; much more gentle and sweet.     I have no idea what the benefits of this are; I imagine similar to the regular Lilikoi (see below) . but I don’t care!   It’s fabulous!

Lilikoi (Passion Fruit)

My view is that Passion fruit is a good name for this amazingly delicate delicious fruit.   Passion indeed.   Many wedding cakes are made on island with its delicate flavor.   Sugarless frosting is sublime made with its fruit.   Oh yes, Lilikoi is something to be savored and loved.   I do.

The taste of Lilikoi is sweet and a little tart at the same time.   If you get one that is not quite ripe, it’s going to be more on the tart side.    If you wait until the skin is “wrinkly” then it’s going to be sweet.   We just puncture the fruit and suck.

Aunty Lilikoi’s here on Kauai has made passionfruit into all sorts of yummy things : jelly, jam, butter and more.    Not organic, but simple ingredients and great gifts to take back home.   When you are in the middle of winter and can’t get a fresh passion fruit, you can have some jam instead!

And then there’s the flowers!  Glorious!  White and purple that grow from vines.    Beautiful to gaze upon, beautiful scent.

Lilikoi has immense healing properties too:  it has a calming effect on the nervous sstem, soothes anxiety and relaxes muscles.   Can help allievate headaches and the tincture made by the Kauai Farmacy puts you to sleep like a baby better than any medicine.   Gentle enough for your baby.   Divine.

Gosh looks as though this could even turn into 4 posts.   That’s it for Kauai Exotic Fruit 1 – check back for the rest!      You may also want to check out my posts on Organic Products Kauai and the Farmer’s markets.  Aloha Nui

About the Author

Kauai Advisor ~ Francesca Azuremare ~ has lived on Kauai for 19 years. I feel blessed to live in such a magical, beautiful place. Over the years I have helped thousands of people find the perfect place to stay on Kauai whilst also advising on everything from places to propose to the best Na Pali boat ride. Now I'm sharing that information here. It's the Hawaiian way. Aloha!

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