Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tropical Fruits

There is a wonderful abundance and variety of fruits that grow in Hawaii, which is located within the "tropical zone" (between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn). Tropical fruits are those that have their origin in the tropics and require the warmer temperatures of the tropical climate, meaning they won't tolerate a frost. There are literally hundreds of edible tropical fruits! The most well-known are likely the pineapple and the coconut.

Pineapples are of the bromeliad family and there are actually hundreds of variety of pineapple ranging from dwarf size to very large! The most common variety, and those mostly grown in Hawaii, are named "Smooth Cayenne" -- weird name for a pineapple!

The fruit itself begins to appear in January and is generally ready to enjoy in July (at least those in my back yard!). All we did was take the top from a fruit we enjoyed and stuck it in the ground. Literally! Some times it may take a year or two for the plant to bear fruit, but once it does: Y-U-M-M-Y! My favorite is the white variety---suuuuuper sweet!

Coconut trees can be found just about everywhere in Hawaii: along the highway, in the parks as well as in back yards. Depending upon the variety, they'll produce fruit in either 3 years or 6 years. The flavor of the juice of the coconut varies depending upon its age: when a nut is very young, there will be very little flavor. As it ages, the flavor changes, as well as the amount of "flesh" - the white stuff. It first starts out "slimey" and then goes through a gelling process. The older the coconut, the thicker (and drier) the flesh becomes until it begins to sprout. The flesh (oftentimes referred to as "meat") is actually edible in all phases, including when an old nut has sprouted!! Below is a photo of that:

This is when all of the water has turned into flesh. As the sprouting process begins, the hardness begins to soften. The center white part of a sprouted coconut actually resembles the consistency of angelfood cake in appearance! It has a mild sweet flavor, is packed with nutrition and is one of my favorite snacks! A fun recipe is to tear it up into bits, put into a bowl and then drizzle olive oil on it -- tastes similar to popcorn!!

Other tropical fruits include mango, durian, lychee, mangosteen, jackfruit, rambutan, guave, banana, papaya, dragonfruit, star apple, starfruit, passion fruit, and breadfruit. Plus there's more!!

Let me know which you are curious about! I've enjoyed them all!!! ;-)


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