Types of Hawaii’s Exotic Fruits
There is an extremely wide range of Hawaii’s exotic fruits. Some of the more well-known ones you already know about probably. These include pineapple, papaya, mango, apple banana, passion fruit and guava. But Hawaii even has exotic fruits that you might have not heard of or seen at your grocer back home. Mountain apple, dragon fruit, lychee and star fruit are examples.
But amazingly, there are exotic fruits in Hawaii that even long-time residents might have never seen. These are fruits like poha, wi, strawberry guava and loquot. So if you have an opportunity to try Hawaii’s exotic fruits, you certainly must try to do so.
The poha or the cape gooseberry is low lying shrub producing a orange fruit the size of a cherry tomato. It’s related to the tomatillo. But unlike the tomatillo, it has a tart, sweet taste making it ideal for fruit salads, preserves and pies. You can also enjoy this berry by simply popping it straight into your mouth. The poha berry is high in phosphorus, vitamins A, B and C as well as healthful bioflavonoids. You can find a number of places in Hawaii that sell delicious poha jams or jellies. They are nice gifts to share with your relatives and friends back home.
The poha plant is native to South America but grows in places like England as well as in South Africa. Some speculate it got its cape gooseberry name because it grew at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. While others believe it got this name because the fruit is caped with a translucent leathery-looking covering. The first poha plant in Hawaii started growing on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1825. Today, a number of farmers grow poha. But you can also find it growing wild in many places throughout the State.
This tree, a relative of the common guava, has been somewhat of a mixed blessing in Hawaii. The tree bears what some consider a nice tasting fruit. But many feel it is one of the most invasive trees ever introduced into in Aloha State. Imported in 1825 from Brazil, it grows in a dense and think manner overcoming all other plant life. As a result, this makes it difficult to eradicate.
On the other hand, many in Hawaii consider the fruit of strawberry guava tree very tasty. You can eat it raw, make it into juice or use it in preserves and desserts. Some also consider it an attractive ornamental species. While others prize its wood for use in smoking meats and fish.
Pronounced “vee,” the wi tree produces a fruit similar to the mango. Some claim it tastes like a combination of a mango and an apple. In other parts of the word, people call it an ambarella. People believe it came from French Polynesia.
Some say wi tastes best raw while the fruit is still firm. And at this stage, it can produce a refreshing juice. As in the case of the mango, one can make the wi fruit into jelly, relishes or a sauce for soups and stews. It is reportedly a good source of iron.
This tree, which produces clusters of oval shaped fruits, was first cultivated in Asia. It is one of the most popular fruits in the world. People grow it throughout Asia, the Middle East, India, South America as well as in some parts of Europe. That being the case, it’s somewhat strange most will never see it in grocery stores in North America. Supposedly, the Chinese introduced loquot into Hawaii in the late 1700’s. Some refer to it as pipa in Chinese or biwa in Japanese. One can find it as a backyard plant in a number of Hawaii residences.
Mature loquat fruit is orange in color, sweet in taste and a good source of vitamin A. You can see it in farmers markets and outdoor fruit stands in Hawaii. It is also a popular with hotel chefs in Hawaii as a fresh fruit dish as well as an ingredient in various recipes.