If you have a Hawaii vacation planned for summer 2018 (or any summer), we highly suggest you try local Hawaiian fruit, some of which you may not be entirely familiar with. In another month we will be at mango season, when we plan on gorging ourselves with these delectable treats for several months.
We look for the best Hawaiian fruit at local fruit stands, Hawaii farmers markets and as a third choice, even at our grocery stores. That is when it doesn’t come from our yard, or a neighbor’s.
Here’s are our suggestions for summer fruits along with a little help in the preparation department:
Mangoes. Hawaii mangoes are like no other (no ka oi). Hayden’s are a long-standing favorite variety, but also try enjoying other types (each with a distinctly different color and flavor). Different varieties ripen throughout the summer season. Try cutting a mango in half as pictured, carving going around its large seed. Then simply score the flesh, not the skin, in a crisscross design. Then reverse it and eat with a spoon or fork.
Lychees. This Asian native grows splendidly here in Hawaii. To eat this grape-like tree fruit, cut around the center of the fruit with a knife in order to peel off the tough outer skin (or use your fingernail). Then squeeze to pop the entire fruit into your mouth. Watch out for the seed. Look for a bright color to indicate they are ripe, delicious and ready to eat. Lychees have other very similar relatives including longon (largely in spring) and Rambutan (mostly winter).
Hawaii grown melons. Watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupes are all grown on Oahu. Hawaii watermelons in different sizes and colors are fabulous. You’ll know that they’re local by an Island or Hawaii grown label when at a grocery store.
Passionfruit (Lillikoi). These yellow or dark purpose fruits emanate from South America but are happy and productive in Hawaii. They grow as a weed in rural areas and you’ll find their ripe fruits on the ground near the vine. To eat, cut in half, scooping out both the seeds and pulp. You can remove the seeds with a sieve and use the juice fresh or frozen in drinks and smoothies, salad dressings, pies and more. They have a strong, sweet yet tart taste that is most exotic.
Bananas. Bananas are the largest herb (no, they’re not a tree) and can grow to 25 feet tall. Hawaii bananas are like mangoes “no ka oi” (unequaled) and are a lot more interesting than you probably thought. While you can buy Central American bananas here too, we highly suggest you avoid them. Hawaii bananas are not exported and are of many different varieties than you cannot find on the mainland. In actuality there are over 100 varieties of bananas, so get to a farmers market or fruit stand and have some samples, as the tastes and textures vary greatly. A personal favorite are gigantic “ice cream bananas.” You’ll understand when you try one.
Papayas. While papayas are available year-round in Hawaii, it is from spring through September that they are the most prolific. You’ll find different varieties and sizes of these too, so do give them all a try. We’ve had many from the yard that weight in at up to ten pounds. They should ripen to be soft like a peach and yellow when eaten. They are also popular when used green in cooking, such as in green papaya salad. Yum.
Pineapple. Hawaiian pineapple, either high or low acid varieties are incredible. They can be bought year round. You can take them with you when traveling back to the mainland. Read our guide to Hawaii pineapples.
Other summertime Hawaii fruit. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for things we haven’t mentioned in detail. Those include varieties of guavas, surinam cherries, coconut, starfruit, dragon fruit and much more.