Tropical fruits not to miss at Kauai's markets
Fruit Knowledge: Kauai Style
The history of fruit in Hawaii takes us all over the globe, beginning with the canoe crops of the Polynesian voyagers brought here around 450 A.D. Today, you will find fruits that hail from the Americas, SE Asia, Africa, India and China. This year has proven to not be a bumper crop for mangoes.With the high rainfall and floods of the winter, many flowers never made it to fruits. But don’t despair, mango is not the only luscious fruit found here!
Here are a few of our funky favorites not to miss:
- Soursop -First on the list, and a personal favorite. Also known by the name Graviola, this green spiky fruit is packed with nutrients. Some say it tastes like a combination of banana and pineapple, with citrus back notes. You can slice in half, remove the seeds and use the white soft flesh in smoothies or just eat by the spoonful! It boosts immunity, has cancer fighting properties and is rich in Vitamin C. Our friends at Rising Sun Organic Farm almost always have a beautiful soursop fruit for you to try.
- Dragonfruit – Pitaya or dragonfruit is indigenous to the Americas, and resides in the cactus family. Don’t be intimidated by the green flame shaped spikes atop the bright pink skin. This fruit is very mild and easy to consume! Think of a refreshing kiwi mixed with the texture of a pear. Its health perks include calcium, carotene and high fiber content.
- Mountain Apple – also known as Rose or Malay apple, this fruit hails from Malaysia. Not to be confused with mainland apples, this refreshing fruit is perfect for summertime. It has a light pear texture and very nice floral or rosewater flavor. Polynesian voyagers first introduced this fruit centuries ago, the Hawaiian name is Ohi’a ‘ai. Eat this one for the history and the taste! Our friends at Monkeypod Jam make a great Mountain Apple Pepper Jelly if you feel the need to take some home.
- Mangosteen – Purple Mangosteen is a very elusive fruit. Traced back to SE Asia, the tree can take 10 years to start bearing fruit. However, once it gets going it will continue to produce until it is over 100 years old. Mangosteen is said to have the perfect balance of acid and sugar. Inside the leathery maroon skin are almond size and shaped segments of soft white fruit. Queen Victoria is said to have offered knighthood to anyone who could bring her this exotic fruit in edible condition (no one was successful). This fruit is not allowed to be shipped to the mainland United States – so I suggest if you find one of these hidden gems do not hesitate to try it out!
- Starfruit – aka Carambola. Aptly named by its five pointed shape, as it creates perfect stars when sliced into pieces. This fruit is one that friends and neighbors will try to drop off on your porch by the bushel. It has a mild, sweet flavor. Try to look for one that is more orange, these will be sweeter than if you get them more green and yellow! Sliced on top of a bowl of yogurt and drizzled with local honey is a great way to start your day on the island.
There are many more than these to discover, don’t miss out on the aloha of the farmers here. Ask them questions at the market, and be adventurous! Buy from many different tables to try fun varieties. Whatever you do, get out of your comfort zone and take advantage of these exotic fruits you will not be finding at your local supermarket. Now, go forth and be fruitful!