If fresh produce is your thing, you will love the Kauai Community Market each Saturday from 9:30a.m. to 1 p.m. located at Kauai Community College. You will find organic produce grown on Kauai and boy is there a lot of it! Some of the things you will find are apple bananas, arugula, avocados, beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, kale, lettuce, mango, radish, scallions, snow peas, sour sop, tomatillo, lilikoi, papayas, coconuts, rambutans, oranges, limes and much, much more!!!
I love that our kids will grow up with memories of picking fruit and vegetables out at the local farmer’s market
Banana Hearts?? I had never seen nor heard of banana hearts (pictured above) before the Kauai Community Market. The banana heart is the flower of the banana plant. The banana heart itself is edible at that stage when it is cooked as a vegetable. It is most commonly served as a salad or as a sautéed vegetable dish with coconut milk. To prepare the banana heart: pull off the outer layers which are very fibrous and not to be eaten, pull layers until you reach the soft core, cut off the stem portion and discard. Cut the banana heart into halves. Slice thinly. The banana heart is ready to cook at this point. If you’re not using it immediately, soak in cold salted water. The most common way of cooking the banana heart is with coconut milk.
One of our kids favorites, rambutan!!! The word means “hairy”. I find them to be similar to a lychee. You can find them for sale on the side of the road all over Kauai. Rambutan is a popular garden fruit tree grown in small orchards. Rambutan is one of the top three tropical fruits produced in Hawaii. It is one of the best known fruits of Southeast Asia and can be found elsewhere in the tropics including Africa, the Caribbean islands, Costa Rica, Panama, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, Ecuador where it is known as “achotillo” and on the island of Puerto Rico.
They are usually sold fresh and eaten as a snack or in a fruit salad. They can be used in making jams and jellies, or canned.
Every week we purchase papayas at the farmer’s market. The kids love to eat them for breakfast! They can really vary in price depending on the vendor. Generally they are cheaper the more you buy. Often times they are priced according to their size. Today we found a gigantic papaya for $2.50 (pictured below). We tend to purchase some that are ripe to eat now and some that still need to ripen. This way you can eat them throughout the week. Some vendors will sell them for 3 for $5.00. You can ask to sample the papaya. Usually there is one already cut open.
Eggplant??? I have never seen eggplant that looks anything like the eggplant sold at the Kauai Community Market. It looks quite unusual but tastes very good. It is thinner than most eggplants that you would purchase in a supermarket that tend to be egg-shaped and very dark in color. The local eggplant also looks twisted and curled. It is easy to chop into cubes and stir fry or put into a curry dish. I am sure there are thousands of ways to cook and serve this eggplant.
The eggplant pictured is a Chinese variety, commonly shaped like a cucumber. They are sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America. Eggplant is commonly known in British English as aubergine and also known as melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash. Eggplant is commonly used in dishes such as moussaka and ratatouille. It is related to both the tomato and the potato.
Choosing Produce ~
The farmer’s market enables the customer to speak directly with the grower. For example, what is the difference between bananas, apple bananas, and ice cream bananas? What do they taste like and how to eat/cook with them? We were able to get information from the vendor as to which bananas are best for baking bread.
How do you choose the best pineapple? Sniff, look and feel the pineapple. First thing to know is that once a pineapple is picked, it will not ripen further. Sniff! If it smells sweet than it is usually ripe. If there is an absence of scent than it is not ripe. Be cautious of an alcohol or vinegar scent which indicates a spoiled pineapple. Look at the pineapple and note that color is not always an indicator for ripe. Just because the pineapple is green doesn’t mean it’s not ripe. Don’t buy if it has cracks, if the skin in reddish-brown, wrinkled or mold is present. The leaves should not be withered or brown. Only choose a pineapple with healthy, green leaves. The pineapple shape is important. It should have rounded edges and developed eyes (spiked centers of the round circles of the pattern). Squeeze the pineapple to ensure it is firm. A whole, refrigerated pineapple can last up to two weeks. Once cut, don’t store at room temperature. Fresh, cut pineapple can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Lilikoi (passion fruit)
In Hawaii passion fruit is called lilikoi and comes in yellow and purple varieties. It is very sweet and smells delicious. Passion fruit can be cut in half and the seeds scooped out with a spoon, but be careful not to scoop out the lilikoi. It is mixed in with the little, black seeds. Lilikoi can be made into a flavored syrup for shave ice or used as a desert flavoring for malasadas, cheesecakes, cookies, ice cream and mochi. Passion fruit is also made into jam, jelly, or butter. Lilikoi syrup can also be used to glaze or marinade meat and vegetables. Many local restaurants use the fruit for cocktails. Most passion fruit comes from backyard gardens and is commonly sold at farmers markets throughout the islands. However, passion fruits are seldom sold in grocery stores.
Leigh Drachman’s Lilikoi Bars
Servings: 24 bars
11/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor mix until all ingredients combine to form a gravely texture. Spread into a 13 by-nine-inch baking dish. Press evenly onto bottom with the palm of your hand. Bake 20 minutes.
While shortbread is baking, prepare custard.
4 large eggs
11/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lilikoi juice
1/3 cup white flour
To prepare the fruit, cut through the thick rind and scoop seeds into a food processor. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute to loosen membrane from seed. The seeds will remain in tact. Then press the slushy pulp through a strainer with the back of a metal spoon.
With a food processor or whisk, mix eggs and granulated sugar until combined, then stir in lilikoi juice and flour.
Once shortbread is done, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Pour lilikoi mixture over hot shortbread and bake 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into bars. Sift confectioners sugar over bars and serve.
Wholey Avocado!!!! Avocados are grown in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a green-skinned, fleshy body that may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. The best characteristic is that they ripen after they have been harvested. The word “avocado” comes from the Spanish word aguacate. In Portuguese it is known as abacate. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear. The avocados range in price more than any other produce at the market. In the picture above, you can see that the smaller avocado is priced at $1.00 and the medium one is priced at $2.00. I have seen them as high as $6.00 each.
What’s not to love about avocados?? They are great on omelets, sandwiches, plain with a little salad dressing or the ever popular guacamole. They are also a very healthy fat. About 75% of an avocado’s energy comes from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat as oleic acid. The saturated fat content amounts to 14% of the total fat in a single serving of avocado while containing zero cholesterol.
Avocados have 35% more potassium than bananas but we always hear people say eat bananas for potassium. Avocados are rich in folic acid and vitamin K and are good dietary sources of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and pantothenic acid.
Sharwil avocados are a medium-sized fruit with rough green skin and oval in shape. The fruit has greenish-yellow flesh with a rich, nutty flavor and high oil content and a small seed. The skin is green when ripe. It represents more than 57% of the commercial farming in Hawaii. Sharwil avocados are sensitive to frost and probably why they grow so well in Hawaii!!! The other types of avocados at the farmers market are Beardslee, Fujikawa, Green Gold, Malama, Linda, Kahalu’u, Lamb Haas, Ota, Murashige, Yamagata and San Miguel.
It is a great experience to walk around the Kauai Community Market, even if you aren’t purchasing produce. Enjoy the tropical breezes while taking in the view of the mountains. There are plenty of food vendors to experience and products to purchase. Moloa`a Bay Coffee hand picks their award-winning coffee from 4,000 arabica coffee trees basking in the tropical sunshine. They also grow cacao, bananas, and a variety of citrus. Their beans are roasted and packaged at their roasting facility in Kapaa.
Monkeypod Jam uses copper pots and old-fashioned recipes to make their unique line of fruit spreads. All spreads are handmade using locally grown fruit and contain no more than five ingredients. Island favorites include Lilikoi Lemon Curd, Banana Foster Jam and Tomato Chutney. I tried the banana foster jam and it would be amazing on frozen yogurt or ice cream!!!
Hanalei Juice & Taro Company serves up traditional Hawaiian favorites such as Laulau, Kalua Pig, Poi, Lomi Salmon, and Kulolo made from taro grown on their farm.
The menu also includes contemporary flavors like Taro humus, Taro Veggie Burgers, Taro Mochi Cake, Tropical Taro Smoothies, and Banana Poi Bread.
Miki Macs Honey is made from bees dining on mac nut, citrus and tropical blossoms which are harvested in the Kalaheo area. The owners have been beekeeping hobbyists for the past six years and have a total of five colonies. Miki Macs Honey is sold in convenient 2 oz. bottles to take with you on the plane. They are also sold in 8, 16, 32 and 50 oz. containers.
Stop by Hanalei Pasta to pick up dry, packaged pastas to cook later or to eat their wonderful hot pasta dishes which include vegetarian and meat lasagna options. They offer fresh pasta made in the kitchens at Tahiti Nui and accompanying sauces.
There are herb plants, farm fresh eggs, Manoa lettuce, tropical flowers, nuts by Kauai Nut Roasters available for purchase at the market as well. There are many more products and vendors available at the famer’s market. Check it out for yourself!
Our son’s favorite thing to purchase at the farmer’s market is Uncle Bear’s Smoked Pork musubi!!! Musubi’s are usually made with spam but Uncle Bear makes his musubi’s with smoked pork, rice, egg and wrapped in seaweed. Somehow we always seem to end up here, purchasing the colossal musubi for $3.00 or 2 for $5.00.
Stop by JC’s Puerto Rican Kitchen for some amazing pork pasteles, pastele stew, nachos, chicken or beef burritos, tacos and the best ever salsa!!! JC’s offers an outdoor seating area where you can watch all of the excitement of the market while enjoying lunch. They have great vegetarian options as well: tacos, burritos and nachos. Be sure to visit with the friendly owners, John and Rhonda.
$$$ saving tips: Each week we head to the farmer’s market with $20.00. It is sort of a game with the kids, how far can our money go?? They compete to find the best prices for local produce. They love rambutans, so they actually care how much they can purchase for $4.00 0r $5.00. As it gets closer to 1 p.m., vendors may go down on their prices to get rid of the produce.
However, much of the produce is picked over or gone by 1 p.m. Don’t purchase the first cluster of bananas or bag of rambutans that you see. Walk through each aisle and find the best deal. Cheaper is not always better! Some of the produce is cheaper because it is bruised, not ripe or damaged skin. Inspect before you buy. Ask the vendor their price and then ask if the price is cheaper if you purchase more than one. Prices vary drastically! We have seen one avocado for $1.50 and another one for $6.00.
5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine