Kauai Exotic Fruit 2

Pineapple by the ocean
This is the second post devoted to Kauai Exotic Fruit.   The first one covered some interesting exotic fruits from A – L… there’s so many I’m doing 3 posts on Kauai Exotic Fruit!    Make sure you sample them all when you visit Kauai!   You can find the first post for Kauai Exotic Fruit including the low down on Coconuts and .  Dragonfruit here.    so here goes with Kauai Exotic Fruit 2

Lime

I used to think Lime was lime, but oooh, no longer.   There’s Hawaiian lime, Key lime, Mexican lime and …. Tahitian Lime.   For me, Tahitian Lime is the superlative lime:   how to express?   You just have to taste one!

Although lime is a fruit that most people don’t eat by itself… it does lend itself to so much in terms of our taste buds!    Added to drinks (alcoholic and non alcoholic), added to desserts and pies and added to food.   Lime on certain foods is perfection.    Lime squeezed on certain other fruits is also amazing.     If you can find a Tahitian lime while you are on Kauai, go for it.

Longan

Longan is rather delicious.    Much more delicate than a lychee and personally I much prefer the taste.    Interesting that it doesn’t look as pretty to some as the lychee or the Rambutan, but it’s all in the taste!    It grows in pretty bunches and has a light brown skin which reveals a soft off white fleshy fruit inside.   Small, like the size of a small plum or Tamarind and round/oval in shape.

 

Longan fruit on tree

Longan fruit bunch, delicious!

It’s also known as Dragon’s Eye because the pit is dark brown and when the fruit is fresh and ripe, it’s rather translucent so the pit is visible making the fruit appear to be like an eye.      Longan means “Dragon’s Eye” in Mandarin.

Like all fruit, Longan is also very good for you; it is rich in iron, really rich in iron and the Chinese consider it wonderful for the skin and hair and have even named it one of the fruits particularly good for women.    There are other amazing qualities too.

The pronounciation sounds more like “Longon” but it appears it’s Longan.   Odd!   But the fruit is delicious!    I forgot to take a photo of our Longan when they were in season and so the photo above is someone else’s Longan fruit!    Definitely one of Kauai’s Exotic Fruit 2.

Lychee

Longan and Lychee are said by some to be similar… and they are in size I suppose.   But whilst the skin of the Longan is pale brown, the skin of the lychee is pink and crusty.  Lychee is on the list of Kauai Exotic Fruit 2.   Like the Longan, you break open the skin (easily) to reveal a fleshy white fruit inside.   Again, you don’t eat the pit.

Lychee fruit

Lychee Fruit – pink and good for you!

I quite like Lychee but its taste has a … slight bitterness or acidity that is not present in the Longan.    Some people love them.   So try!

Like the Longan, or even more so, even cursory research into the health benefits of the Lychee will reveal that it helps with everything from easing abdominal pain to relieving coughing.

Lychee is high in vitamin C and antioxidants that help improve immunity as well as being high in B vitamins.   There’s even more!

Mangosteen

I LOVE Mangosteen; this is my favorite fruit ever.   The first time I tasted this was at Club Med in the Maldive islands 30 years ago.   I never forgot the taste so I was thrlled to re-dicsover it on Kauai almost 20 years ago.     Thankfully several farms grow mangosteen and I’m so happy about it!    The dark purple skin hides an inner fruit which is white, segments rather like an orange and absolutely delicious!   Such a delicate flavor.    I now live on land that has two mangosteen trees… oh yes, I’m a happy camper.

Mangosteen Fruit

Mangosteen

 

The fruit is the size of a large plum or tangerine and is dark purple in color.   Hard and shiny usually.   When you peel the skin back, you reveal a beautiful segmented white flesh fruit that has soft edible pits at the centre of the fruit.

What does it taste like?     Absolute heaven!   According to me that is.   Sweet, fragrant yummyness….. I can’t describe further, you just have to taste!

And what about the health benefits?     A few years ago,  it was shown to cure cancer in some people.. at least the juice of it.    Since then many people have been buying mangosteen juice regularly as part of their health regimen.

Even the medical establishment have grudgingly admitted that  “In experimental research, scientists have shown that mangosteen extract may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-tumor properties.”  and there’s some evidence that applying mangosteen extract to the skin may help treat acne.”

The folks at Xango Juice who were the first people, I believe, to start bottling mangosteen juice list 75 reasons to drink it!    Including : Strengthens the immune system, combats inflammation, helps prevent heart disease, reduces high blood pressure, improves both acid reflux and IBS, boosts energy, slows the ageing process (wow) helps prevent dementia,  aids the lymphatic system, keeps the thyroid functioning optimally, reduces insulin resistance, reduces fat deposits, heals nerve damage, lowers fever, … and more.   You can read it all here. 

Mangosteen is assuredly on the list for Kauai Exotic Fruit 2.   It seems amazing that one fruit could do so much, but some people swear by it.   As for me, I just love the taste and it’s not bad knowing that it must be doing my body good too!

Mangoes

Kauai has a Mango Festival every year in August!     Yes indeed.    A whole day of “Music and Mango” put on by the folks at the amazing Waipa foundation north of Hanalei.

Loads of mangoes and the vast array of different types of mangoes will amaze you; it did me.   Songs about mangoes, mango in all types of dishes.   It’s a Mango-fest!

Mango on the tree

Beautiful Mango on the tree

I love mangoes so when May/June/July comes around, I’m in heaven with the abundance of fresh Mangoes on island – definitely one of the most yummy exotic fruits on Kauai.    Huge, sweet and juicy… I just like them fresh.   Why waste them in a smoothie!   But of course they do make a smoothie taste wonderful too.

Mangoes are said to be good for the heart, hair and skin and even promote good digestion, particularly helpful with constipation.   High in vitamins too.  Have a mango!

Mountain Apple

I had never heard of mountain apple before coming to Kauai.     But when you are on a hike in the jungle or mountains and you come across a mountain apple tree, gosh they are a welcome find!    Small, half the size of regular apples and more angled and elongated as it were… check out the photo!   Some people say they are bell shaped.

They are also known as the Malay apple since they originated in Malaysia but they apparently are not related to apples.     They don’t really taste like apples but they are definitely as “scrummy” as good apples, though more watery.

Pink blossom on Kauai

Vibrant Mountain Apple blossom on Kauai

The truly amazing thing about Mountain apples are the blossoms…. they are a vibrant pink/magenta color… take a look!   You just have to try a fruit that produces that amazing blossom!

 

Noni

Ahhh!   The famous and infamous Noni!     By now the benefits and the reputation of Noni fruit have spread far and wide.

Noni fruit on tree

Noni Fruit – legendary health benefits

Its health benefits are known to many who now buy Noni juice regularly.    People have even heard of its awful smell and taste….. but only if you have been to Hawaii have you actually had a whiff of Noni or tasted the fruit!

I am quoting here from the Kauai Farmacy site and their page on the amazing Noni:

“A polynesian panacea, Noni is used for everything from arthritis to skin care to tumors. We utilize the leaf of Noni, which contains special compounds that help fight cancer by increasing the production of white blood cells and also xeronine, a compound that promotes cell structure health and regeneration. Noni is also touted for aiding digestion, wound healing, treating arthritis and gout, supporting good circulation and boosting the immunity. Since it is a tropical plant, it has built up its own immunity and adapted to living in such an environment. Noni is ‘ironically’ beneficial for most tropical- related health issues like sun exposure, fungus, parasites, infections, digestive complaints and heat exhaustion.”

I think that’s the most comprehensive and succinct description of the amazing benefits of the Noni.    Now Kauai Farmacy uses the leaf in their teas and that’s very palpable.    Eating the actual fruit and smelling it… um not so much!    However I still do.    Easiest way to drink the juice is simply to put a few Noni fruit in a mason jar and leave it.    After a week or two  you get a dark amber colored juice.   Drink.   Ooooo eeeee!       You can also just eat the fruit and some people say “it’s an acquired taste and I’ve acquired it”.    Well hmmm, I suppose you can acquire the taste of something that smells and tastes like blue cheese or something very “off”.   I have to admit I don’t eat the fruit.   But you have to try it once!

The ancient Hawaiian people used Noni for medicinal purposes.   Whilst it may not have been indigenous to Hawaii, it was likely brought here many hundreds of years ago by Polynesian settlers and ever since that time it has been used by the Hawaiians as one of their main medicines; the above list explains why.   Ancient Hawaiians (and some still today) used the juice for all kinds of ailments and applied heated leaves to help bones and muscles.   The juice can also be used on the head to get rid of “ukus”  or head lice… now that’s strong!

Always using as much of any plant as possible, the Ancient Hawaiians used the red pigment from the bark and the yellow pigment from the roots to dye kapa.

Noni indeed is a panacea of healing.   Smelly?  Yes, but also on the list for Kauai Exotic Fruit 2.   Mahalo.

Pineapple

The Pineapple!    I think this fruit became synonimous with Hawaii during the 40s and 50s when flights first started operating from the West Coast to Hawaii and America discovered the islands.

Pineapple growing

Pineapple growing from those spiky plants – Fresh & delicious!

Before living on Kauai, I (like most people) had no idea how a Pineapple grew : is it a tree?  a bush?   What?   Pineapple actually grows on a very tropical looking plant that grows generally to hip height at most.   Long spikey leaves surround the Pineapple which grows in its center as you can see here.

The introduction of Pineapple growing in the early 1900s and the huge growth that happened in the 40s, 50s had quite an impact on the islands; the most important being the importation of labor (that’s how the big companies saw it) from countries such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico, China, Japan and Korea.  The industry continued strong until more recent years when production in other countries cut the strong hold of the Hawaiian companies.   Now only two major companies grow Pineapples commercially.    But so much the better!

It’s much better to come to Kauai and taste a Pineapple that has been grown on an organic farm.   You can usually find some at the Farmer’s markets and on the North Shore, you can buy a Sugarloaf Pineapple at the Fehring Family Farm Stand by the Chocolate Factory near Kilauea.

Sugarloaf Pineapples are the best, sweet and juicy and delicious!   Banana Joe’s when it was still around used to make Pineapple frosties ;pure frozen fruit pushed through a juicer.   Pineapple, Pineapple Mango Banana and Pineapple Banana.  Better than ice cream or any smoothie.   Fehring Family Farm now does those.   Don’t miss it!

Please don’t buy pineapples from Costco!      Or any of the supermarkets… get the local fruit!   Costco Fruit does not come from Kauai and nor does any or most of the fruit found at most supermarkets.

So that’s it for Kauai Exotic Fruit 2 …. the final one will be in a couple of weeks.

Enjoy!

 

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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