Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exotic Fruit Exploring in Hawi!

Hawi Honor Stand.  Photo by Kat Thomas.
I’ve been on the Big Island of Hawai’i in the town of Hawi

for over a week now as part of an organic farmstay and let me tell you Hawai’i is really another world!!!

The Big Island is the largest of the seven Hawai’ian island (around the size of Connecticut or twice the size of all other Hawai’ian islands combined), but only has a population of about 160,000.   Although Hawai’i Island is full of barren lava fields, the majority of the state’s agricultural products are grown and processed here. 

The hip little enclave of Hawi is only about an hour drive north of Kona, but this upcountry hamlet (with a population of slightly more than 900) is worlds away from its neighboring “city” (which with a population of 35,000 it’s hard for this Los Angeleno to considered Kona a city…)! 

Nestled on the northern most point on the island, it's a town that’s a block long, Hawi is full of supportive organic farmers who sell their wares at the local farmers market and at “Honor Stands.” 

Soursop. Photo by Kat Thomas.
Honor Stands are exactly what they sound like: farm stands where fresh fruit and vegetables are sold daily and where payment is made on the honor system.  At night you don’t even leave money, but instead write down your name and phone number. 

Choices vary according to what’s in season but in the last week I’ve had the ability to explore four different types of fruits that I had never even heard of till I came to Hawi!

These tiny, yellow, orb shaped fruits grow in clusters and can be quite sour when unripe, but are perfectly sweet when ripe with flavorings similar to an orange and grape.  

The passion fruit plant produces a spectacular flower with yellow of purple fruit (where I’m staying it’s yellow!).  Seeds of the purple varietal were first planted on Maui in 1880by Eugene Delemar who brought them from Australia and planted them at his ranch in an area still known as “Lilikoi Gulch.”  Flavor profiles include similarities to mangos, papayas, pineapples, and lemons.

Although the outside of this plant is green and prickly the inside of this fruit is similar to the flesh of uncooked Halibut (in a good way!)! The flavor is a combination of sour citrus, pineapple, and strawberry with an underlying creamy texture similar to a coconut, banana or cherimoya.

Rambutan. Photo by Kat Thomas.
Similar to lychees, rambutans are covered with soft spines.  Indigenous to the Malay Archipelago, the name of the fruit comes from the word “hairy” in Malay.   And you can definitely see why from the picture!  Once the hair exterior is peeled away (most people chose to give the fruit a slight bite with their teeth to break the skin) the tender, fleshy fruit offer a balance of sweet that is similar to larger white grape.

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