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Surinam cherry is easy to grow in the tropics

Latin Name and family:

Surinam Cherry’s latin name is Eugenia Uniflora. It is  in the family Myrtaceae and is native to Surinam, Guyana, French Guiana, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The red variety of surinam cherry

There are several other names for it. In Hawaii, I’ve found it is usually called Surinam Cherry or Pitanga. Other english nicknames for Eugenia Uniflora are Cayenne cherry, Florida cherry, and pumpkin cherry. Sometimes people also call it Brazil cherry. This causes some confusion between Eugenia Uniflora (surinam cherry) and Eugenia brasiliensis (which is nicknamed Brazilian Cherry or grumichama see picture below).

brazilian cherry
Eugenia brasiliensis (Brazilian Cherry, not Surinam Cherry)


These small fruits are “ribbed” and have the shape of miniature pumpkins. They are around 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches (2-4 cm) wide. As it develops, the fruit turns from green to orange. And, when it is mature they will either be bright red or a dark purple/black.

Here in Hawaiʻi, many of us know of them as having two main varieties, the red kind (possibly the “Chamba”  variety) and the purple/black kind (most likely the“Lolita” or “Zill dark” variety).

Surinam cherry (Eugenia Uniflora)

Surinam cherry skin is thin and the flesh is similar to a grape. There are anywhere from 1-3 inedible seeds inside. These seeds stay viable for a about month and produce similar plants and fruits as their parents. See more below on Eugenia Uniflora propagation.

Surinam Cherry Taste and Culinary Uses:

The flesh inside Surinam cherry is slightly translucent. But it is also tinted orange/red and is extremely juicy. These fruits can be anywhere from acid and sour to semi-sweet. The skins have a notable tannin taste, especially if slightly under ripe. The darker purple/crimson (Lolita) variety is known to be sweeter and less astringent or resinous. The taste is tropical, similar to gooseberry, grape, and cherries.

Although they are an extremely resilient plant, surinam cherries are not widely available in stores. On rare occasions you may be able to find them at a farmers market. This is mostly because they have a very short shelf life; their quality degrades rapidly after picking. The fruits bruise easily and begin to ferment within a day or more. For this reason, most people eat them directly off of the shrub, as is. However, they are commercially farmed in Brazil. See harvest and storage below on how to prolong shelf life for personal or commercial use.

Still, if you have a decent harvest you can do many things with this particular fruit. The obvious include making a Surinam cherry jam or jelly. Similarly you could make chutney for serving with meat or fish. Some people have made syrups with it for dessert or cocktails and other have pickled the ripe cherries. In Brazil, they make vinegar, wine and liquor with it.

Harvest and Storage:

The fruiting season of Surinam cherry varies greatly by region. In Florida it may ripen February-March, and then again months later around September-November. In Mediterranean areas it may fruit in the springtime around May. Here in Hawaiʻi, Surinam cherry fruits several times throughout the year depending on exact climate and rainfall. It only takes 3 weeks from flower to ripe fruit.

The fruits are edible once they become orange-orange red.  But they will be less juicy, more firm and still somewhat resinous. Surinam fruit picked at this stage is best for processing (wine, jelly, chutney). It will have a longer shelf life during the harvest to end-product chain. Additionally, it is easier to remove the pits at this stage and still have intact flesh to process.

If you are going to eat them fresh, you should harvest them when they are bright red, or purple/black. They should have shiny undamaged skin. They should also easily separate from the stem during harvest. In both cases many resources suggest picking them 1x/day or even 2x/day to get a decent Surinam cherry harvest. Please note, to extend shelf life, refrigerate immediately after picking and the store them in the fridge in vented containers.

Surinam cherry health benefits:

Surinam cherry has a relatively high Vitamin A and Vitamin C content. They are also high in iron, calcium, niacin, and some B complex vitamins. Its dark red color is indicative of its antioxidant content: some of which are lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin, gamma-carotene, and rubixanthin. The purple varieties contain anthocyanin – another potent antioxidant found in blackberries, blueberries etc.

Its traditional use as a medicine comes mostly from its astringent and antiseptic qualities. In addition to the health benefits of the fruit he leaves contain various properties and an essential oil which includes turpentine, citronella & cineole.

Concoctions from the fruit and or the leaves may help clearing symptoms of stomach upsets (diarrhea), fevers, respiratory problems and colds.

The leaves’s essential oils can repel flies and other insects. (Traditionally, the leaves were stripped and laid on the floor of shelters, as you walk on them and bruise them their essence repels flies.)

There are clinical studies showing that Cineole helps patients with pulmonary issues. Specifically, it helps to relieve inflammation of the mucus membrane enabling better breathing.

Contraindications & Toxicity

Do not eat the seeds, they are very resinous and may cause gastro-intestinal upset. People with sensitive respiratory passages have reported irriation during pruning of the Surinam plant.

 Growth patterns:

Surinam is a tropical tree/shrub that can also thrive in Subtropical locations. It can survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes as high as 5,000 feet (in Hawaii). Surprisingly, many people grow them as a hedge plant or ornamental. They can range from 8-20 feet tall (2.44-6.1 meters) and spread out 5 to 15 feet (1.52-4.57 meters).

They are somewhat slow-growing. However, most seedling plants will still start to fruit after 2-3 years. Occasionally they may take as long as 5-6 years to fruit. For hedge plants, you want to space them 2-5 feet apart. Otherwise spacing them 10 feet apart is sufficient.

These resilient plants are also very tolerant heat and many types of soil (except salty soils). They also like full sun and adequate amounts of water. This is one reason why they are considered invasive. For example, in South Florida they started taking over other indigenous species. They also naturalized in Bermuda and formed dense thickets of a monoculture forest.

How to plant surinam cherry seeds

The seeds are recalcitrant – you cannot store them for longer than a month. To plant, simply separate the seeds from the flesh and place in a pot with well draining soil and consistent moisture. The seeds will germinate in 3-4 weeks.

Grafting and air-layering are less common propagation methods, but are used in countries like Brazil where surinam cherries are commercially grown. Cleft grafts are common and they may also be planted as seedlings in the ground and later “top worked” with a superior variety.

A small young tree will bear around 6 pounds of fruit in a year while a mature large tree may bear up to 25 pounds a year.

At our fruit farm and nursery we often have Surinam cherry plants for sale.


Click to access surinam-charry.pdf

Surinam Cherry (general overview and growing info)

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Rollinia deliciosa – the lemon meringue pie fruit

Rollinia growing on tree

Rollinia could just be your new favorite fruit. For newbies with the  annona fruit family,  this fruit may genuinely surprise you. It’s got soft but spiky nubs and custardy, bright and sweet jelly like flesh. Sometimes it take a few tries to turn fruit skeptics into fans. For others like me, it was love at first sight/taste. Rollinia is SOOOOOO easy to grow in wet Hawaiʻi (and other tropical locations). It fruits from seed in as little as 2-3 years and may fruit multiple times a year for a staggered harvest.

Taxonomy of rollinia deliciosa

Rollinia Deliciosa or extremely similar Rollinia Mucosa. This fruit is known most commonly in Hawaii as Rollinia and in Brazil as Biriba.  There is a lot of debate among taxonomists about differences in these possible species (deliciosa v mucosa). More recently, taxonomist have chosen to forget their differences (mostly seen in the size and shape of the soft nubs on the outside and slight variations in flavor). They’ve given a new scientific name to them: annona mucosa – but this name has not be universally accepted. So, it seems like for the time being you can research R. deliciosa, R. Mucosa or A. Mucosa and find information on pretty much the same fruit.

Other common names for rollinia include: biriba, amazon custard apple, wild sugar apple, Fructa da Condessa.

Related fruits

Also under debate is whether this delicious fruit is truly in the custard-apple or annona family (annonaceae).  Still, taxonomists consider it a relative to other annonas like the Sugar apple (A. squamosa), cherimoya (A. cherimola), soursop (A. muricata), custard apple (A. reticulata), pond apple (A. glabra), ilama (A. diversifolia).

Rollinia fruit characteristics

Rollinia looks like an alien fruit. The flesh is a soft, gooey or jelly-like white pulp.  It has a white core and several dark brown, elliptic or seeds. The inside is creamy and soft, with very few fibers. The fruits vary greatly in size and shape and can weigh up to 8 or so pound.

The taste is a lemony custard- flavor, like lemon meringue. It is eaten fresh but is also made into raw desserts, ice cream, smoothies, etc. In Brazil it is fermented to make wine. Once rollinia is cut the flesh oxidizes quickly, it will also temporarily stain white dishes.


Importantly, research shows that the seeds have insecticidal properties and are poisonous to humans. Do not eat the seeds from rollinia or any other fruit in the Anonaceous (Annona) family. Be extremely careful when separating the flesh from the seeds for pureeing or putting in smoothies.

Rollinia Deliciosa or Rollinia Mucosa Harvest and Storage

Generally, rollinia is considered to have a short shelf life. The fruit ripens from green to yellow and can be picked early when they start to turn yellow. Clip the fruit leaving some stem. They still they may take approximately 4-7 days to ripen. You should try to eat it before the soft nubs completely blacken. Once the nubs turn black, the flesh inside turns more translucent and mucosy. Many find it is less desirable at this stage and should be eaten in the next day or two before it starts to ferment.

For picking for market, you can try picking the fruit at the very first sign of yellowing. Also, be careful with storage. The fruits are vulnerable to bruising even under their own weight. Store at room temperature on top of cushioning such as bundled newspaper or bubble wrap. Additionally, you may store rollinia in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life a few more days. But, be aware,  cooling the fruit after harvest can extend the shelf life but the skin is more likely to turn black.

Health Benefits of Rollinia

The rollinia fruit is a refrigerant and analeptic (stimulates the central nervous system). Also, due to its vitamin C content (73% RDI per 100g of Vitamin C) it is considered an antiscorbutic (effective against scurvy). The powdered seeds may be remedy for enterocolitis (inflammation of both the small intestine and the colon), but as mentioned above the seeds are also toxic to humans. Still, research is being done on Rollicosin, a new Annonaceous acetogenin, to develop a potential anti-tumor agent. Additionally, in traditional medicine it is used as an anti-pyretic (to reduce fevers), a restorative and general tonic.

100 grams of rollinia has 80 calories, 2.8 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2.1 grams of fat, 1.3 grams of fiber. It also contains Vitamin B1 and B2, Vitamin C, phosphorous, iron, niacin, and thiamine.

Growth Patterns of the Rollinia Tree

The first record of rollinia in Hawaii is from the 1930s. It is thought to have originated along the Amazon in Brazil, although it was also discovered in early Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. It thrives in humid, tropical lowlands.  In Hawaiʻi it thrives in wet, humid locations at 300 feet to 3,000 feet elevations. Also, rollinia prefers heavy soil, full sun and an acid pH.

These trees grow fast, as much as 10 feet a year (up to about 40 feet). They can tolerate of heavy rains, but not drought. In fact, they prefer locations with consistent rainfall throughout the year. They appreciate large mulch rings or organic matter for good fruit set.

Rollinia fruit set

In lower elevations in Hawaii, less than 1,000 feet, they may fruit several times a year or throughout the year. At higher elevations they are more likely to fruit in the fall only. Mature trees may put out anywhere from 25-100 fruits a year. But the average range is more like 30-50 fruits per year per mature tree.

In Brazil, scientists found 4 species of beetles that pollinate the fruit flowers. But only about a third of the flowers set fruit. This happens about 55 days after seeing the blooms.

Rollinia is most commonly propagated by seeds because they grow true to type. Seeds may take anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months to germinate, with about 80% success rate. To speed up the germination process you can try soaking them in water for 12-24 hours, or scarification. Like most fruit tree seeds it is good to sow them in partially shaded and wind protected nursery location.

Grafting and air layering can ensure consistently high yielding varieties. Scale and mealy bugs may be problems, as well as fruit fly.

If you are interested in purchasing rollinia trees, seeds or fruit, please visit my farm website:

I’m also available to set up a tropical fruit display or table at your next party or conference. Contact me for more information.

If you have fallen in love with Rollinia, you may want to check out durian:


Love, Ken & and Paull, Robert E. Rollinia. Fruits and Nuts, June 2011. F_N-21.

Morton, J. 1987. Biriba. p. 88–90. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.

Chih-Chuang Liaw , Fang-Rong Chang , Ming-Jung Wu , and Yang-Chang Wu * Graduate Institute of Natural Products, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, Republic of ChinaJ. Nat. Prod., 2003, 66 (2), pp 279–281

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Jackfruit – the trendy vegetarian meat replacement

Jackfruit is one of the first tropical fruits I feel in love with. It looks like a monster baby egg, but jackfruit taste is so pleasant they modeled a gum flavor after it. It is also large, spiky, and a chore to open up. But the jackfruit is a powerhouse of nutrition, flavor and calories. You can eat it raw when it is ripe (sweet) or  cooked green (aka under-ripe) as a vegetable often used as a meat replacement in many recipes. Below you’ll find more information on jackfruit, the world’s largest tree fruit. You will also learn how to harvest and eat jackfruit, both raw jackfruit and how to cook jackfruit when it is green.

Jackfruit taste, harvest, storage and growing information

Latin Name and family: Artocarpus heterophyllus, family: Moraceae (mulberry, fig and breadfruit family).

Other names: jak-fruit, jak, jaca, nangka (Malaysia and the Philippines); khanun (Thailand), khnor (Cambodia), mak mi or may mi (Laos), mit (Vietnam).


Jackfruit is the largest fruit that comes from a tree. The fruit itself can range from 8 inches to 3 feet (or 20-90 centimeters) long and 6 – 20 inches (15-50 cm) wide. The weight ranges from 10 lbs to an average of 50-60 lbs. Howeer, some people have recorded them weighing up to 110 lbs. The outside of the skin has hard little points connected to a thick wall.

(this is a picture of a bumpy “Ziman Pink” jackfruit – a crunchy variety of jackfruit. It is compared to the size of a iPhone 5 : )

Inside jackfruit the main edible portions are like large “bulbs” surrounding the seeds. These bulbs have a somewhat stringy flesh. The seeds inside are light brown and are usually 3/4 inches to 1 1/2 inches long and about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. The seeds have a thin white membrane outside. One jackfruit can contain up to 100-500 seeds inside each fruit. When a jackfruit is fully ripe it has a strong odor. Inside, the pulp of the fruit smells fragrant and tropical, like pineapple and banana.

Jackfruit in the Kitchen:

It is rumored that the flavor for Juicyfruit gum was modeled after the jackfruit. Now, jackfruit is gaining popularity worldwide especially for its use when it is unripe, it is being marketed as a vegan or vegetarian meat substitute. The unripe flesh can be cubed and boiled or cooked similar to breadfruit or plantains. Some people say that it tastes like chicken or pork; it truly soaks up the flavors of the sauces in which it is cooked. In the United States you can now find green (unripe) jackfruit in several health food cafes served in dishes like Vegetarian pulled pork sandwiches or tacos and in stores as prepared and frozen meat replacements. It is also sold in cans in water or brine. The seeds are also edible and a great source of protein when they are boiled and the hard shells removed.

Ripe jackfruit is a also a wonderful edible experience. The ripe pulp is great eaten raw in its natural state. It is also available canned in many markets. It is sweet, fruity, tropical, but unlike any one other fruit. Many people say that jackfruit has hints of pineapple, mango, banana, but again, these are just common tropical flavors that may relate to it.  You must get a chance to try ripe jackfruit for yourself. The canned jackfruit in syrup does not do this super fruit justice. Many people distinguish between two jackfruit types: crunchy and soft. Both are great and yield slightly different properties in their culinary applications.


Jackfruit culinary applications

My first experience with unripe Jackfruit was a when I cooked a green jackfruit curry. Many recipes use canned young jackfruit. But I highly recommend tracking your own unripe jackfruit down and experimenting. Another common recipe these days is green jackfruit “pulled pork” or barbecue jackfruit.

Jackfruit has a sticky latex when you pierce the skin.  It can be quite messy so it is highly recommended that you oil your knife and maybe even your hands a tiny bit before cutting into it. You may want to even open it in a shallow cardboard box or on top of newspapers to help with the mess.

To prepare green jackfruit, cut it into manageable sections, leaving the skin on and boil it for 45 minutes or pressure cook it for about 10. Once it has cooled, you can remove skin and seeds and use the edible pods cubed or separate it into stringy bits for recipes like vegan steak or pulled pork.

As mentioned previously, the seeds are also edible once cooked. However, it is a pain to remove the plastic-like outer layer of the seed. I have made a really yummy jackfruit seed vegetable burger but it did take a fair amount of work. You can also roast and dry seeds and turn them into a flour.

The ripe pulp may be used in fruit salad, fruit smoothies, etc. Moreover, both the green or ripe pulp can be frozen or canned.

Below are a few recipes that highlight jackfruit…

Jackfruit Curry – Vegetarian Curry Recipe

EASY Vegan Jackfruit BBQ (with fresh jackfruit!) (you tube video)



Jackfruit Harvest and Storage:

The fruits can mature anywhere from 3 to 8 months from flowering. You can usually tell it is ripe because they change from light green to yellow-brown, but be sure to harvest before it is quite brown and spots appear. The “spines” on the fruit may yield to pressure of your thumb and the fruit should sound hollow when tapped. Jackfruit turn very brown and deteriorate quickly after ripening (2-4 days). Ripe fruits can be kept a few weeks with adequate refrigeration and you can keep the edible flesh frozen for a few months once it is separated from the rind and the seeds.

Toxicity: Ripe jackfruit may act as a laxative if too much is eaten. The raw seeds are indigestible and need to be baked or boiled.

Health benefits:

A study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition indicated that the pulp of jackfruit is a natural source of antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage. This means the fruit can help slow down skin aging and can even assist in repairing damaged molecules, like DNA.

Another study published in The Ceylon Medical Journal categorized jackfruit as a low-glycemic index fruit, which is attributed to its dietary fiber content. Consumption of unripe jackfruit can even be used to fight high blood sugar level, according to a Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service study.

Growth patterns:

Jackfruit needs humid tropical or near tropical climates for abundant fruit production. These trees have been known to grow at up to 5,000 feet elevation (1,500 m) and they may reach 30-70 feet (9-21 meters) tall. Its leaves are evergreen and glossy but somewhat leathery. They measure up to 9 inches long (22.5 cm). All parts of the tree contain a sticky, white latex.

The jackfruit tree is monoecious (meaning it has both male and female flowers and can pollinate itself). Because they are so tropical and need humid environments, these trees are not tolerant of drought and they are sensitive to frost. In addition, they need very good drainage. Jackfruit trees may live up to 100 years, but their productivity peaks and then declines with age.


Jackfruit is most commonly propagated by seeds which may last up to 1 month before planting. Germination of the seeds takes 3-8 weeks. To speed up germination soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. According to Morton (1987) if you soak the seeds in a 10% solution of gibberellic acid they result in 100% germination. Additionally, jackfruit has a sensitive tap root, so be sure to take care to transplant it while is  young and to give enough space for the tap root. You can try planting jackfruit seedlings, but will have more consistent or predictable results with varieties that are grafted or air layered.

If you like jackfruit check out this article on Durian – the most controversial fruit of all time.


1.Permacopia Book II. D. Hunter Beyer Dr. Franklin Martin.

2. Hawaiian Organic growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992)Oasis Maui /inc.

3., Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 58-63.

4. Popenoe, Wilson. Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Hafner Press. 1974. Facsimile of the 1920 edition. pp. 414-419

5. Tankard, Glenn. Tropical Fruit: an Australian Guide to Growing and Using Exotic Fruits. Viking O’Neil. 1987. pp. 52-53.

6. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Jun;65(2):99-104. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0155-7

7. The Hindu, “Unripe Jackfruit helps fight diabetes: study,” April 4, 2016


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Abiu taste and how to harvest, store and use pouteria caimito

The taste of abiu is hard to compare to any other fruit you’ve had. It’s kind of got the texture of a grape, but is the size of oblong tennis ball. Read more about this exotic fruit below.

Abui taste Katies tropical kitchen


Latin name and family: Pouteria caimito, Sapotaceae

Other names: emperor’s golden fruit, yellow sapote. Trinidad=caimitt or yellow star apple, Colombia=caimo, Ecuador=luma and cauje, Venezuela= temare, Portugal =abieiro, Ghana=alasa.


The fruits are the size of tennis ball to a baseball, or an average of 2-4 inches. It has a smooth skin, which contains irritating latex when it is still green or under ripe. As it matures the abiu becomes bright yellow. It is either round or slightly elliptical and may have one pointed end. The flesh is like a translucent and white gel. One fruit has up to four brown elliptical seeds that are 1 and 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch.

Abiu Taste and Culinary Uses:

Abiu has succulent, refreshing flesh, which tastes pleasantly sweet. Some people describe it as a mix between maple syrup and caramel. The texture of the pulp is like gel, it is smooth and not grainy (like chico). Although abui has a unique flavor, the flavor is still subtle and may be overpowered by combining it with many ingredients. A little lime juice will bring out the flavor more.  Most people consider abiu best when eaten slightly chilled.  It also has applications for juices, smoothies, ice cream, sorbet etc.

Abui taste

Harvest and Storage:

You can pick abiu while still slightly under ripe to almost bright yellow. Yet, they bruise easily. Thus, they should be put in padded containers when you transport them to markets. Fruits ripen in up to 5 days and have a shelf life of 7-14 days at 40-50° F. Moreover, you should keep the stored fruits out of direct sunlight.

Health benefits:

Abiu fruit is a significant source of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin C (180% the RDI of Vitamin C). The fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals: thiamine 0.2 mg, riboflavin 0.2 mg, niacin 3.4 mg, Vitamin C 49 mg, calcium 22 mg and iron 1.8 mg. Brazilians use abiu medicinally to help with coughs, bronchitis and other lung complaints.

Growth patterns:

This fruit tree thrives in tropical areas. In Hawaii it will grow up to 3,000 feet elevation. Whereas, in South America it has been known to grow at up to 6,000 feet elevation. These trees grow from 30-120ft tall. Mature trees may produce anywhere from 100-1000 fruits a year. Abiu has multiple bearing times throughout the year.

Abiu is generally propagated by seeds, although grafted varieties ensure less variation. Seeds should be planted as soon as possible. Some people dry the seeds in shaded, open air for a few days and then plant the seeds 2 inches deep. Abiu seeds germinate in 15-20 days and they should be planted 20 feet apart. From fruit set to harvest, the abiu takes around 3 months.

Seedlings produce fruit in as little as 3 years, with a full harvest in 5 years. Young grafted trees used for superior varieties may start bearing in 18 months. Known as a hardy tree, the abiu doesn’t need a lot of attention. However, some people like to give the lower branches a little pruning after about 1 year.


  3. Morton, Julia. (1987). Fruits of warm climates
  5. K. Lim. Abiu. A Botanical and Agronomic Review. May 1991.
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Passionfruit Banana Fruit Leather Recipe (lilikoi banana fruit roll-ups)

These passionfruit banana fruit roll-ups are a hit with our family this holiday season. This simple recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, can even be prepared RAW.

This Christmas 2017 we finally busted out our Teflex sheets. Last year we sent dehydrated bananas to our mainland families for Christmas. This year we needed a new trick. But since we had spent almost half of the year away from our farm, we had very little fruit and other foods to choose from…luckily the passionfruit vines Adam had planted years ago are now providing us with an abundance this winter. And, even though our banana forests were not maintained we still managed to find 3 racks of bananas. So – the lilikoi banana marriage finally happened with the help of our Teflex sheets we ordered for our mediocre dehydrater.


This super simple recipe was actually inspired by our friend in California who loves lilikoi. This kind family hosted us on and off for months. And – told us a story of how their friend tried to send them a box of fresh lilikoi, but it was opened inspected and not allowed through customs. In an effort to send our friends and family a little bit of the tropical vibe – we created these fruit leathers.

Recipe for Passionfruit Banana Fruit Roll-ups

Equipment needed:

  • dehydrator
  • teflex sheet
  • blender


  • lots of ripe bananas
  • lots of ripe lilikoi (passionfruit)
  • honey
  • coconut oil (for teflex sheets)


  • unbleached parchment paper
  • You need omething to tie your fruit leather roll (better if it is food grade – or safe to put in our near your mouth)

Steps for making your own fruit leather

  1. Prepare your dehydrator. If it has been a while since you have used your dehyradtor – take it out and give it a good wash. Here in the tropics, everything gets moldy real quick and easy. If you didn’t wash your dehydrator pristinely before your stored it from your last experiment, now is the time. Use warm soapy water. I even use a clean tooth brush to get in all the ridges and cracks.
  2. After cleaning it, let it dry thoroughly and consider drying it with paper towels or a really clean towel. Our dehydrator is a mid-budget model. It is good because it has temperature control. Still it is on the smaller side and in my opinion a pain to clean. But all dehydrators are probably a pain to clean. I just looked it up and you can get it for $99 on Amazon:L’EQUIP 528 6 Tray Food Dehydrator, 500-watt.  For making these fruit leathers I took out the plastic “grates” that usually accompany my dehydrator and replaced them with the fitted teflex sheets. See step 2.
  3. Prepare your teflex sheets. The Teflex sheets Adam ordered were square. Not meant for the inside of our dehydrator. So I used a clean “exacto knife” – to be more exact I used the same kind of blade Adam uses for grafting – a hobby knife with a clean sharp blade. I roughly cut a circle in the middle and cut the edges to fit. After cutting the teflex sheets to the right size – I lathered them in refined organic coconut oil.

3. Blend up your ingredients. We have a Blendtec blender. I highly recommend it, or one of a similar quality. Especially when dealing with hard small seeds, like passionfruit seeds. This blender chops rights through them effortlessly. Furthermore we use the “wild side” jar for it. It is large enough to blend more than 4 cups (more like 6) without overflowing and making a mess. Here I put about 8 or so ripe bananas. 3-4 fresh lilikoi and 1 heaping tablespoon honey. I blend on high for 50 seconds until creamy.

4. Evenly pour your mixture onto your teflex sheets. I use about 2 blenders worth of the mixture per batch in my dehydrator – which has 6 levels. When pouring the mixture or batter in the idea is to make a even coat, where you cannot see through it. Try to pour evenly so that the “batter” doesn’t rub up against the middle or the sides too much making it a pain to clean. You can try using an oiled rubber spatula.


I used an angled icing spatula and found this was much easier than a rubber spatula. Although , it is still hard to get it completely even. Try but don’t drive yourself nuts. Shoot for ⅛” thick. Do not go more than ¼”. Wilton Angled Icing Spatula is one example you can find on amazon.

lilikoi banana mixture spread out on sheets

5. Start the dehydrator. For raw fruit leathers the raw foodies will tell you that you should not heat items above 105 degrees F. This is fine, but it will take a long time to dehydrate your passionfruit leathers. Especially because passionfruit pulp adds a lot of water to the equation. Consider your audience for the fruit roll-ups. For me, this Christmas 2017 the audience was our family – definitely not raw foodies. So I set the dehydrator around 115 F t 125F. I did several batches. If I was starting it later in the evening, I would set the temperature a little lower overnight. Then when I woke up would check them and flip them and adjust the temp for the day.

At 115 – 125 degree F, with about ⅛” thickness, most fruit leathers should be done at around 18 hours in the TROPICS. It is important to flip them over about halfway through. You should be able to peel the leather off the Teflex without compromising or ripping it and turn it over. If it starts to rip it is not ready to be turned over yet. The fruit roll-ups are done when they are no longer soft, or tacky.

6. Roll-em up. Use a large cutting board to cut the leathers in your desired length shape. At first I made small ones, like the horrible ones we all ate as children. But I found this to be labor intensive – so I began to make them as big as possible. Use the razor/exacto knife here again to help cut the leathers and the parchment paper.

Roll up as tight as possible, secure with your preferred method. At first I used scotch tape. But Adam gave me grief because it was hard to take off and he felt like he could taste/smell the sticky stuff on the tape. For lack of better options in our rural, humble town we used clean floss, like tooth floss for the remainder of our gifts. I am sure there is a better option out there. Please comment if you have any suggestions on that or anything else.

From Hawaii to you – MELE KALIKIMAKA!

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Passionfruit is beloved for its sweet and tart tropical taste

Lilikoi or passionfruit is one of the most popular and most common fruits here in Hawaii. Even though a lot of people have a passionfruit vine in their backyard, these fruits never grow old in the hearts of tropical residents and guests. They also grow subtropical climates too (there are slightly different varieties). Still, in California they are not very common where these little fruits with long shelf lives sell for $20 a pound in specialty store. I’ve never bought one in 7 years of living in Hawaii.

Sometimes you or your friend’s vine is bumping sometimes it’s not. Right now, November 2017 our vines are dropping over 20 fruits a day. If you’d like to buy some fresh passion fruits (Big Island only) or passionfruit seeds online please contact me and check out our farm website,

Detailed information on Passionfruit

Latin Name and family: Passiflora Edulis And Passiflora Edulis F. Flavicarpa (tropical)

Other names: maracuyá parcha in Spanish , grenadille or fruit de la passion in French, maracujá in Portuguese, and lilikoʻi in Hawaiian.

In Hawaii there are various varieties of passionfruit that are somewhat common, and always called lilikoi. Purple Lilikoi and Yellow or Common Lilikoi are both Passiflora Edulis. However things called lilikoi in Hawaii are a different species. For example,  Jamaican Lilikoi is Passiflora laurifolia (it has a different shape, milder taste and aroma and a soft outer skin). And Giant lilikoi or Giant granadilla, is Passiflora quadrangular is.


Characteristics of the passion fruit’s fruit: 

The fruit is almost round or ovoid, and it is usually 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide. It has a tough, pithy rind that is smooth and waxy. Inside, the aromatic pulp is like membranous sacs containing orange-colored, pulpy juice. One passion fruit can have more than 200 small, hard, and dark seeds. The yellow variety of passionfruit has generally larger fruit than the purple.

Passionfruit Taste and Culinary Uses:

Passionfruit has a characteristically sweet and tart, aromatic, tropical flavor.  The purple variety is less acid and less tart and contains more juice than the yellow variety. It can be eaten in so many ways. In Hawaii lilikoi is a very common flavoring. Most often you see lilikoi syrup (for pancakes or shaved ice), lilikoi butter, lilikoi cocktails, passion flavored iced-teas. Many people use it in desserts like lilikoi frosting, glaze, lilikoi flavored cheesecake, mocha, or ice cream. Passionfruit pulp can be frozen in ice cube trays overnight and then stored in the freezer for a quick addition to a smoothie. Papaya is even better with fresh lilikoi pulp than with lime. We’ve also really enjoyed eating Rollinia (Rollinia deliciosa) pulp with fresh passionfruit pulp. Chef’s use the tart taste for marinades and other accompaniments to main dishes.

Check out these recipes which incorporate passionfruit: green smoothie love, guava passionfruit green smoothie, fresh papaya and passionfruit, oat flour banana bread with passionfruit cream cheese frosting

Passiflora edilus Harvest and Storage

Passionfruit ripens on the vine in 80-90 days after pollination. They change from green to yellow, orange or purple.  They then fall to the ground and their hard outer shell protects their integrity. Then it is best to wash, dry and store them at room temperature where they may last up to 2-3 weeks. They will become crinkly, but as long as they don’t mold or get too soft they are still delicious and edible and sometimes even more sweet. Refrigeration may prolong life if they are completely ripened and have sat at room temperature a few days after falling from the vine.

Health benefits of Passionfruit:

The pulp of the raw passion fruit is 73% water, 22% carbohydrates, 2% protein and 0.7% fat. In 100 gram serving, one can find 36% daily value (DV) of Vitamin C, which helps it’s anti-oxidant properties. Lilikoi also has 42% dietary fiber in one 100 gram serving, this helps to strengthen and regulate your digestive system and relieve or prevent constipation. Also, Passion fruit is rich in Vitamin A and Carotenoids, which help with eyesight. Furthermore, it contains a lot of potassium, which helps reduce blood pressure and increase circulation. In addition, the oil of the passion fruit flower and seeds is medicinal used as an emollient, anti-inflammatory, and to help aid sleep. One can make a fresh tea from the flowers to help with insomnia.

Unripe passion fruit hanging from vine

Growth patterns of Passiflora edulis:

Passiflora edilus is a fast growing vigorous vine. Not a tree! It grows best in tropical and subtropical climates. These plants like full sun, except in extremely hot climates where partial shade is ok. Passionfruit can grow in many soil types but it prefers light to heavy sandy loams with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. They have shallow roots, but extensive roots so heavy mulching is preferable.

In the United States Passiflora edulis grows well in parts of California and Florida and Hawaii. The vine can extend 15 to 20 ft. per year and the life of a vine is usually 5-7 years, with productivity declining in the later years. The flowers are fragrant and 2-3 inches wide. They are best pollinated by carpenter bees, but honey bees do ok and wind is also a suitable method of pollination.

This picture shows the passionfruit vine has completely taken over one of our invasive trees to use as a trellis

For planting, fresh seeds are best and germination occurs usually in 10-20 days. However, once the pulp is rinsed from the seeds and the seeds are dried they start go dormant. Once they are dormant they take a long time to germinate or special practices to break the dormancy, like using fine sandpaper or soaking in citrus juice. Propagation can also done by cuttings with 3-4 nodes or by grafting. Pruning not only helps keep the vine from spreading too much, some believe it also produces more vigorous growth which will result in a larger harvest. They require regular watering, with really good drainage.

Resources/Further Reading

  3. Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 320-328.
  4. Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 66-68.
  5. Popenoe, Wilson. Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Hafner Press. 1974. Facsimile of the 1920 edition. pp. 241-245.
  6. Samson, J. A. Tropical Fruits. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical. 1986. pp. 2291-295.
  7. Vanderplank, John. Passion Flowers and Passion Fruit. MIT Press.1991. pp. 85-88.


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You must try Chico (Sapodilla) fruit

Latin Names: Manilkara Zapota, Achras sapota,

Family: Sapotaceae

Other names: Chicle tree, Zapotillo, Dilly, Nispero, Chico Zapote, Sapota, sapota, sapodilla, nose berry, sapodilla plum or chikoo sapotem, chikoo, ciku,

Varieties: Alano, Brown Sugar, Prolific, Russel, and Tikal.

Characteristics of Chico:


Chico is round (almost egsapodillag shaped) with a tapered end.   The diameter is 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) and its length is 2-2.5 inches. Its pulp ranges from yellow to brown and it is smooth and sometimes a little grainy in texture. The skin is papery or “scruffy”. There are usually 1-6 seeds which are black, sort of oval, with a little spike, and 3/4” or less long.


Taste and Culinary Uses of Sapodilla:

This fruit is aromatic, sweet and floral, and consequently it tastes sweet like brown sugar and maple syrup. The texture is similar to kiwi, juicy, gel-like and also granular. It can be eaten raw, in salads, sorbets, smoothies, juices, pancake batters, baked pies, etc. Moreover, in any of these culinary applications you can try adding a splash of lemon juice to enhance flavor.

Caution: the latex and tannins of unripe fruit may cause mouth ulcers, itchy throats, and difficulty breathing.

chico, sapodilla


Harvest and storage:

Chico is harvested about 6 months after flowering. To be sure it is ripe there are several clues. 1. The skin turns lighter brown and separates easily from stem (without oozing latex). 2. The color also changes from yellowish to brown. 3. You can scratch the fruit to make sure the skin is not green beneath the surface. 4. When it is ripe the skin yields to gentle thumb pressure.

A whole bunch of mature, unripe chicos can be cut and hung. Kept at room temperature the fruit will ripen in 5 – 10 days. Ripe fruit is good at room temperature for a few days. However, it will last longer  if refrigerated. Additionally, the frozen pulp stays good for a few weeks. When buying chicos in the store look for fruits that have smooth skin without bruises, cuts, cracks or wrinkles.

Shipping: Chico is durable if picked hard, can transport for a few days.

Health benefits:

Chico has 200 calories per cup or 100 g provides 83 calories. It is relatively high in Vitamin C (39.33%), Dietary Fiber (33.68%), Iron (24.13%), and Copper (23.00%).  Sapodilla is known to relieve stress, prevent colds, prevent anemia, reduce arthritis, and heal wounds (homeostatic qualities, it helps to stop the loss of blood). It is antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and an anti-parasitic agent. It is also a sedative used to relieve stress and anxiety. Chico contains significant amounts of folic acid,

Chico recipes from other sites:

Chikoo Melon Shake Recipe (


  • 1 cup chopper chikoo
  • 1 cup chopped muskmelon
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 4 cups milk
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • Ice cubes as required

Ciku Smoothie (

  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp brandy
  • 125 ml ciku pulp
  • 4 cups of ice.

Sapodilla growth patterns:

In general, chico seedlings bear fruit in 3 to 8 years, while grafted trees bear in 2 to 4 years. Although these are slow growing trees they may reach up to 100 feet tall. However, grafted chico varieties tend to be shorter in height. Generally speaking, they bear prolifically about 2 times per year and live 50-100 years.

Interesting Facts:

Wild sapodilla trees are known for the chicle (latex) that was was originally used as the base for chewing gum.


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Starfruit taste, culinary uses, health benefits and growing info

Information on starfruit

Latin Name and family:

The latin name of starfruit is Averrhoa Carambola, it is in the Oxalidaceae-Wood-Sorrel Family. Other names for starfruit are: Carambola, kambola, caramba, five corner

starfruit from the farm


Starfruit ranges from about 2.5 to 6 in (6.35-15 cm) long and up to 3.5 (9 cm) wide, with 5 ribs so that it looks like star when cut crosswise, yellowish-green with high water content. The outside skin is waxy, green-orange-yellow. It has up to a dozen seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inches (6-12.5 mm) that a thin, flat and long. Sometimes there are no seeds.


Taste and Culinary Uses:

The fruit flesh is juicy/high water content, it is also crisp, and slightly yellow flesh when fully ripe. The sweetest varieties contain little more than 4% sugar. The fruit is most commonly, washed chopped (so it looks cool) and eaten as is, including the skin. Apart from that many people use them in fruit salads, smoothies, juice and as garnish. Many cultures use the fruit in other prepared cooking applications. many applications such as stews, curries, preserves, sherbets, cooking the green fruit or slightly under ripe fruit with various dishes, salted, stewed, pickles, relishes etc. The fruit juice has been used to remove iron rust stains. Here is a list of recipes of the Fairchild Botanical Gardens:

Harvest and Storage:

This tropical fruit is tasty when picked ripe or fall to the ground ripe. The fruits naturally fall to the ground when fully ripe. For marketing, they should be handpicked when they are green with just a little yellow. Refrigeration after harvesting prolongs life, but can impede proper ripening.

Health benefits:

Starfruit is high in vitamin C, and has very high antioxidant qualities. (Fisheries, 2008). In Sri Lanka, India, Brazil and China the fruit is used to treat a variety of conditions including bleeding and halt hemorrhages, fevers, diarrhea, eye afflictions, kidney and bladder upsets and vomiting (Morton, 1987).


Starfruit contains oxalic acid, avoid if you have kidney disease, kidney failure or are on dialysis, may interfere with some prescription medications.

Growth patterns:

Starfruit is tropical and sub-tropical, it grows up to 20-30 feet, (6-9 m). It thrives in any tropical low lands and bears from seed in as early as 3 years. Grafted trees will fruit in 10 months. It grows well in elevations up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m). Additionally, starfruit likes even distributions of rainfall throughout the year and does not tolerate flooding, thus it needs good drainage. They are relatively pest-free except for fruit flies.

If you enjoyed this article you may also be interested in: Rolliniamamey sapote or check out our page for info on tropical fruits and foods.


  1. Permacopia Book II. D. Hunter Beyer Dr. Franklin Martin.
  2. Hawaiian Organic growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992)Oasis Maui inc.
  3. Morton, J.F.(1987). Fruits of warm climates. Miami, Florida, USA
  5. .
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Information on Mangosteen: the queen of fruit

Latin Name and family: (Garcinia Mangostana)

Other names: The queen of fruit


The whole fruit is about the size of a small apple and the edible portion inside is about 1.5 to 2.5 inches diameter. The rind is about 1/4″ or 4 to 6 mm thick and soft when first harvested. Inside the rind there are about 4-8 segments. Some may be larger than others and contain a seed, but the smaller ones have no seeds or small underdeveloped seeds. The flesh of the mangosteen is the segments, which are pale, white and very soft. The segments, are similar to a clementine size and constitution.


Taste and Culinary Uses:

The taste may be compared to lychee, but it is sweeter and almost melts in the mouth. Mangosteen is being commercially produced into MANY MANY products, powders, vitamins, juice, etc. The mangosteen is best on its own. When they are freshly picked, they are easy to squeeze open, past the rind to the segments. Once they have sat a few days the rind starts to harden and to peel fruit it is best to use a small sharp knife should be used to cut past the rind showing off the pretty, luscious pieces.

Harvest and Storage:

The the developing fruit is white or very pale green and gradually turns red, then purple or a dark brown. Once picked, the mangosteen can be left at room temperature for several days. Storing it in the fridge can make the fruit last from 1-2 weeks. If you see white spots, bruises, or ruptures on on the dark purple/brown surface, the fruit has been compromised.

Health benefits:

Mangosteen is gaining A LOT of popularity lately for being a superfood with many health benefits. WebMD even has an entry for it! “Mangosteen is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.” Although there is scientific evidence growing as it gains popularity. In many health claims, not only the fruit but also the fruit juice, rind and bark are used. In Southeast Asia, the rind is traditionally used as a remedy for diarrhoea, dysentery and controlling fever (Fisheries, 2008).

It is also used for urinary tract infections, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, cancer, osteoarthritis, gonorrhea, and dysentery. Additionally, as a preventative measure, it is used for stimulating the immune system and even improving mental health. WebMD also reports that some people apply mangosteen for eczema and there is evidence for mangosteen extract helping in the treatment of skin cancer (Wang, Shi, Zhang, & Sanderson, 2012).

Growth patterns:

No true varieties exist, although the fruit varies significantly depending on its environment. It is a fruit of the humid tropics, but it loves shade and is susceptible to sunburn on the leave and fruits. To some extent, the trees are considered “alternate bearing” meaning that a year of heavy fruiting is often followed by a much lighter harvest the following year. Seedling trees bear in 5-6 years, from flower to fruit it takes 5 months. The fruiting seasons changes with growing location but usually last about 4 to 10 weeks.

mangosteen katies tropical kitchen


  1. Permacopia Book II. D. Hunter Beyer Dr. Franklin Martin.
  2. Hawaiian Organic growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992)Oasis Maui /inc
  5. Wang, J. J., Shi, Q. H., Zhang, W., & Sanderson, B. J. (2012). Anti-skin cancer properties of phenolic-rich extract from the pericarp of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana Linn.). Food Chem Toxicol, 50(9), 3004-3013. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.06.003
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Mamey Sapote

Mamey Sapotemamey sapote cross section

Latin Name and family:

Pouteria sapote; Calocarpum mammosum; Sapotaceae (Sapote family) Originated in Central America.

Other names:

Mamey or zapote colorado in Costa Rica, also called zapote rojo and nispero.

Mamey Sapote Physical Characteristics:

Elongated fruit with tapering ends, (foot ball shaped), the mamey can be about 3-10 inches in length and 3 inches and 5 inches in width. Mamey can weigh up to 6 pounds. The skin is thin, papery or scruffy and brown and it wrinkles and loosens when fruit is ripe. It has smooth, soft and creamy flesh. The color varies a little from from a pink-red or somewhat salmon colored. The black seed (usually just 1 seed) is elliptical about 1-2 inches long. The seed often contains a little sprout when ripe.

Taste and Culinary Use:

The flesh is delicious as it is, mamey sapote has sweet, creamy, smooth, almost like caramel or pumpkin pie filling. Many people add the flesh to smoothies, sorbets, and ice cream. The kernel is boiled and roasted and used with cacao in making chocolates, making confections and mixed with other ingredients for nutritional beverages. You can get more creative. Below are a few sites with some recipes:

 Here are some recipes:


Actual nutritional value will vary with variety and growing conditions. However, the following analysis closely approximates other analyses found. 100 g of fresh mamey (about 1/8 of a fruit) has 107 calories, 1.0 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 28 g carbohydrates, 1.4 g fiber, 86% water, 22 mg calcium, 14 mg phosphorus, 0.9 mg iron, 6 mg sodium, 226 mg potassium, 60 IU vitamin A, and 23 mg vitamin C.

Harvest and Storage:

Pick mamey sapote when completely mature. For example, one can tell this by scrapping/lightly puncturing the skin with fingernail. The green flesh means it’s immature, while red or pink flesh means it’s mature. Additionally, a red tint may also appear on the skin. With mamey, you can pick while firm, it then let it ripen/soften for an additional few days indoors. When kept indoors to ripen, make sure you are checking for when the mamey sapote becomes softer to touch and gives a little (like an avocado), and it starts to wrinkle just a little. If it is too soft or over ripe the fruit will start to brown or blacken (also like an avocado) and will taste a bit off. When it is frozen, mamey sapote may hold its texture well. The ripe fruit should last a few days in the refrigerator.

Health benefits:

22-49% the RDI of Vitamin C and 20% the RDI of Vitamin A (Morton, 1987). 10% the Daily Intake of Fiber (Fisheries, 2008). It was traditionally used to treat gastric ulcers and dysentery (Morton, 1987) .

Mamey sapote growth patterns:

Mamey sapote grows in low to mid elevations in Hawaii (up to 2000 feet elevation). The mamey sapote trees are evergreens. Seedling trees bear fruit in 7-10 years. Grafted plants may start bearing in 1-2 years. Mameys grow to 60-100 feet tall. Frequently, the fruit ripens year round but often peaks in the Summer. They loves hot humid tropics. It takes two years from when it flowers until the fruit is ripe. Mature trees may bear 200 to 600 fruit per year.

Most commercial growers say that pruning is important because the mamey sapote is a vigorous tree and pruning helps contain possible tree damage and to ease the harvest. Generally, it’s a good idea to fertilize the tree a few times a year. However, if given a good start, frequent enough watering and some mulch the tree will be likely to still bear a large amount of fruit. Some common cultivars of mamey sapote are Pantin, Florida and Magana.

Pests: Specific pest problems may occur in some locations, but the mamey is generally regarded as having few problems.

Toxins: The white latex is an irritant.


  1. Permacopia Book II. D. Hunter Beyer Dr. Franklin Martin.
  2. Hawaiian Organic growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992)Oasis Maui /inc.
  3. Miami Culinary Tours