Friday July 8, 2022
While many tropical fruits can be enjoyed year-round in Hawaii, some of our favorites are summer season specials. Visiting Hawaii this summer? We highly recommend stopping into a local fruit stand, juice bar or farmers' market to find the freshest exotic fruits. Here is our guide to our favorite flavors of summer. How many of these have you tried?
There are over 100 varieties of mangoes worldwide. Hayden and Raposa are two popular varieties in Hawaii. Ripe, juicy mangoes make a delicious treat any time of day. They can be eaten at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator. To eat cut in half, carving around the large seed. Score the flesh in a crisscross design and then push up on the skin from the back so the fruit sticks out. Eat with a fork or if you simply can’t resist just bite right in and enjoy! Just don’t eat the skin. You will also find fresh mango offered as a topping for acai bowls and shave ice at organic juice bars on the island.
Caution: many people are very allergic to mangoes, and if you are it's better to skip them. So, if you’re new to mangoes, proceed with caution!
A delicious summer treat! Fresh ripe lychee have bright pink/red skin and a wonderful sweet floral aroma. You can simply pop the skin with your teeth, peel and eat. Just watch out for the fairly large seed pit in the center. The fruit pulp has the consistency of the tough grape but a much more exotic flavor. Lychees have other very similar relatives including longon (mostly in spring) and Rambutan (mostly winter).
Liliko’i (passion fruit)
Liliko’i grow on vines. When ripe the fruit skin is either yellow, orange or purple depending on the variety. To eat, cut in half and scoop out the juicy pulp and seeds. Yes, the seeds are edible. Some varieties are sweet and others are tart. Hands down our favorite is the “Jamaican liliko’i”. It’s oval in shape with bright orange skin and full of the most delicious sweet tasting pulp.
You’ll also find liliko’i as a popular topping for acai bowls and shave ice and even blended in smoothies. So yummy!
Bananas are actually the largest herb (not a tree) and can grow 25 feet tall. Worldwide there are close to 1000 varieties of bananas all with varying colors, tastes and textures. Hawaii does not export its bananas so you will find many varieties here that you will not see on the US mainland.
Two of our personal favorites are “ice cream bananas” and “apple bananas”. In our opinion you’ve not truly had a banana until you’ve had an “apple banana”. It is shorter in size and sweeter to taste with noticeable hints of apple and strawberry. Perfect for taking on a hike, to the beach or along for the car ride while sightseeing.
Papayas are the 2nd largest herb after bananas. Papayas grown in Hawaii are so much more flavorful. They are available year-round, however they peak from Spring through September. When ripe the outside skin will turn from green to yellow/orange.
Unfortunately, papayas are one of the most prolific GMO crops in Hawaii. We highly recommend seeking out market vendors who are truly certified organic. To eat, simply cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and then enjoy. Squeeze a little lime on top for extra flavor.
The small black seeds are edible and are peppery to taste. Mostly enjoyed ground up and added to salad dressings.
There’s just something more delicious about Hawaiian grown pineapple. You will find both high and low acid varieties here. Our favorite variety is “white sugarloaf pineapple”- absolutely incredible! It has low acidity and the fruit pulp inside is more white in color. Pineapples grow year round in Hawaii however peak season is March through July.
The smell test: check the smell at the base of the pineapple, where the aroma is strongest. If it’s sweet then it's ripe. If it smells fermented like alcohol or vinegar then it’s overripe and no good.
Hawaiian Mountain Apple
These fruits are shaped like a bell and have super-shiny red skin.They are sweet and juicy and many say they taste like roses. Their skin is fragile so they bruise easily. To eat, simply bite in or cut into slices. They are plentiful June through October.
Starfruit are 2 to 6 inches in size with a smooth and waxy skin that turns yellow when ripe. They can be sweet and tart to taste and very juicy. Simply bite in and enjoy or slice in cross sections and you’ll see exactly how starfruit got its name, star shaped slices. You will often find these cute star slices on top of salads or acai bowls as a decorative garnish. When picking out your starfruit avoid ones that are a dark yellow to almost orange color as they tend to be overripe.
Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya is Native to South and Central America. They thrive in hot, dry climates- after all they are a cactus with fleshy stems and sharp spines. It has juicy pulp that ranges from tart to lightly sweet. There are three main varieties. Red-skinned with white pulp, red-skinned with red pulp and yellow-skinned with white pulp. You’ll find dragon fruit at local farmer’s markets and fruit stands from July through September.
A coconut isn’t actually a nut at all, it’s a drupe also known as a stone fruit. You can find a coconut any day of the year in Hawaii, but we just had to include them as they are not to be missed. They can be enjoyed in so many ways: coconut water, coconut milk, coconut meat, dried coconut shreds, flakes or chips or our absolute favorite: “spoon meat”.
At a farmer’s market or fruit stand ask for a young coconut, as these will not only have the most refreshing coconut water but also the soft and gelatinous coconut meat that can be simply scooped out with a spoon, hence the name “spoon meat.”
Hawaii Grown Watermelon
So sweet, juicy and refreshing, especially on a warm summer day. Watermelons are not only delicious but they are also 92% water so they can help improve your body’s hydration. Hawaii grown watermelon is a favorite of both locals and visitors in the islands. Look for them at farmer’s markets but they often get sold quickly so get to the market close to start time. Enjoy at the beach or on your hotel balcony.
We of course had to include noni! A Polynesian medicinal superfood that made its way to Hawaii over 1700 years ago as one of the revered canoe plants. Botanically known as Morinda Citrifolia, noni is a pungent yet powerful fruit packed with 165 beneficial enzymes and compounds that promote overall good health. When the fruit is white and yellow in color it is full mature and ready for picking. Once harvested the fruit fully ripens within a couple of days, becoming soft and translucent. This is the stage that gives noni its nickname "cheesy fruit". Yes, the ripe pulp smells and tastes like a strong blue cheese. To eat simply break open and take a bite. Noni has lots of medium sized seeds, just spit these out like you would a watermelon seed.
A word of caution, you will find noni juice sold at juice bars and fruit stands on island. We never recommend drinking noni, it's lacking the majority of the beneficial compounds since the pulp has been discarded and it is also fermented which creates alcohol further degrading the compounds that are water soluble. Trust us, we've had analytical labs complete numerous rounds of testing for compound potency and retention on our raw Noni Fruit Leather and noni juice, raw noni is 14x more potent than noni juice.
Visiting Kauai this summer? We invite you to come tour our family farm! Experience noni up close, taste the fruit when it's perfectly ripe and see up close our organic farming practices. Tours are free and reservations are required. Want more details about our farm tour click here
We certainly hope you've enjoyed our guide to Hawaii's tropical summer flavors!
Do you have a favorite tropical fruit? If you try a new one let us know what you think in the comments!