Hawaii has a lot of secrets—spaces among the valleys and trails that are meaningful to people who live there. Luckily there are enough secrets to go around, at least until the next guide book is published.
We have a few places we go regularly for foraging. There are seasons for fruit, in Hawaii, despite being an average 80 degrees most of the year. Currently we are in a mountain apple season. During this season we make plans to visit the mountain valleys that have the best trees and we pay attention to the groves of trees that are getting ripe so we can come back. We come back with bags of fruit and the fruit flies love it as much as we do.
It’s hard to describe mountain apple to those people who’ve never had it (which is most people, really. Even people who live in Hawaii may not ever see it). It is like the softest, ripest pear, in texture, without any of the grit, but the flavor is slightly rosy and slightly sour. It has wonderful chew that seems to melt and feel chunky at the same time. It has a lot of juice but has a dry skin. It has a small pit in the center. The skin is not even skin at all—it’s just a red extension of the flesh. There is an edge of bitterness. The whole fruit is like a fleeting moment.
My husband, Jake, is a fruit hunter. I think this could be a great reality show on the Discovery channel.
Mozely was so excited that he opened his eyes for all of 30 seconds on our 2 hour hike.
Amaya has been Jake’s apprentice for a while now, and she spots fruit and calls out from her perch. Jake hands her fruit and she devours it. She will eat as much guava and strawberry guava as you can find. They hike a few times a week and we always have passionfruit (lilikoi), guava, strawberry guava (waiwi), or mountain apples around the house. Sometimes we can even stock up on local avocados (which, I’m telling you, have so many varieties and flavors that Haas avocados will hold no interest for you ever again).
Fruit is an instant, beautiful taste, and probably whatever you do to it will make it worse than if you had just eaten it off the tree. So if I make something from it, it better be dang good.
Mainland fruits, like blueberries, are expensive here. If I wanted to make a traditional fruit tart, it’s likely that I’d be spending about $20 just on the topping. I decided to forage for our ingredients and make ourselves an island fruit tart.
For this challenge (#4—Can you believe I’ve made it this far?) for Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog, we were challenged to photograph our process, whether this was for a cooking method, or recipe. Our process starts out with the fruit. Foraging for your own fruit changes the whole game and makes you feel a little more connected with your food. Everything tastes better when you’re hiking.
Island Fresh Fruit Tart (printable version will follow in the next post)
For the hike
- Hiking snacks, a large pole with a net attached, good eyes
For the topping
- 4 large handfuls of guava
- as much passionfruit as you can find
- 6-8 mountain apple (if you can restrain yourself from eating this many)
- 1 mango, if you’re lucky, as your tree has already been stripped
For the pastry cream:
- 1 C cream
- 1 C milk
- pinch salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 C sugar
- 3 T cornstarch
- 4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 C guava puree
For the crust:
- 4 T unsweetened grated coconut
- 5 T sugar
- 5 graham cracker sheets
- 3 T melted butter
For the lilikoi glaze
- 1 C lilikoi (passionfruit) puree
- 1/2 C sugar
- For the hike: Pass the cow, the no-parking sign, and the WWII bunker. Stop and enjoy the fruits along the way. Swim, if you can (swimsuit optional), and eat your snacks. Get dirty and sweaty and hungry. Pick all the fruit you can find.
- Create your purees. Cut off tops of guava and puree in the blender with a little bit of water. Don’t blend it TOO much, because you don’t want the seeds to be so miniscule that you won’t be able to strain it out. Strain it out with a large hole wire mesh sieve.
- Cut open your passionfruit, scoop the pulp into the blender, add a little water, and blend for a few seconds, again, don’t puree the seeds. Strain with a fine-holed wire mesh strainer. Constantly scrape the bottom of the strainer with a spoon and stir so the seeds will be moved around and the juice can get through.
- Make the pastry cream: Heat the cream and milk on medium heat (with a pinch of salt) in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add half the sugar. Stir occasionally and monitor to make sure that it doesn’t burn.
- Whisk the egg yolks for about 15 seconds. Add the rest of the sugar. Whisk about 15 more seconds. Add the cornstarch. Whisk again until the mixture has turned light yellow and seems a bit thicker (until the sugar is dissolved, about 30 seconds).
- When the cream is simmering, add it in a thin, steady stream to the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Whisk until combined, then put back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat. Add 3/4 C guava puree and bring to a simmer, almost boil, for a few minutes, until it is thickened. Remove to a bowl and set to cool. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours to cool completely.
- Make your crust: While the pastry cream is cooling, turn the oven to 325 degrees. Put your coconut flakes in a glass pie pan and put it in the oven for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally until the flakes are slightly toasted.
- Throw the graham crackers, coconut flakes, and sugar into the food processor and blend until the crackers are fine bits.
- Remove the cracker mixture to a bowl and add the melted butter. Stir with a fork until combined. Press the crust into a tart pan with the bottom of a heavy metal measuring cup.
- Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is dark and fragrant. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Lilikoi glaze: put the lilikoi puree and sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Simmer over medium high heat, stirring constantly, for about 7 minutes, or until thickened.
- Assemble: Cut mango, mountain apple, and guava into thin slices. Pour the now cooled pastry cream into the crust, smoothing out to the sides. Spread all but 3 T of the glaze on top of the cream. Place fruit slices over this, in some sort of pattern. Brush the remaining glaze on the fruit. Serve.
- Wash the dishes, because you used every single one in the house.