Sunday, October 10, 2010

Processed Fruit

 IMG_0020 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.

IMG_9938 And it’s absolutely nothing like an apple. (although it makes a wonderful pie, if you pick more than you can eat raw, since it lasts for about 2 days off the tree.)

My husband, Jake, is a fruit hunter. I think this could be a great reality show on the Discovery channel.

Vicious animals guarding the trails.IMG_9909

Dangerous river crossingsIMG_9983 Remnants from the last civilizationIMG_9933

And hotties like this:IMG_9795

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).IMG_9836

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.

IMG_0025 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


  1. For the hike: Pass the cow, IMG_9918 the no-parking sign, IMG_9937 and the WWII bunker. IMG_9942 Stop and enjoy the fruits along the way. IMG_9939 Swim, if you can (swimsuit optional),  and eat your snacks. IMG_9960 Get dirty and sweaty and hungry.IMG_9970 Pick all the fruit you can find. IMG_9934
  2. Create your purees. Cut off tops of guava IMG_9865 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. IMG_9876
  3. 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. IMG_9096 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. IMG_9101
  4. Make the pastry cream: IMG_9878 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. 
  5. Whisk the egg yolks for about 15 seconds. Add the rest of the sugar. IMG_9898 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Make your crust: While the pastry cream is cooling, turn the oven to 325 degrees.    Put your coconut flakes in a glass pie panIMG_9985 and put it in the oven for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally until the flakes are slightly toasted.
  8. Throw the graham crackers, coconut flakes, and sugar into the food processor and blend until the crackers are fine bits.
  9. Remove the cracker mixture to a bowl and add the melted butter. Stir with a fork until combined. IMG_9993Press the crust into a tart pan with the bottom of a heavy metal measuring cup. IMG_9994
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is dark and fragrant. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Lilikoi glaze: put the lilikoi puree and sugar into a small heavy saucepan. lilikoiglaze Simmer over medium high heat, stirring constantly, for about 7 minutes, or until thickened.
  12. Assemble: Cut mango, mountain apple, and guava into thin slices. IMG_9988 Pour the now cooled pastry cream into the crust, smoothing out to the sides. pastrycream Spread all but 3 T of the glaze on top of the cream. Place fruit slices over this, in some sort of pattern. IMG_0013 Brush the remaining glaze on the fruit. Serve.
  13. Wash the dishes, because you used every single one in the house. IMG_0055 


Joanne_choi said...

Love it! Love how you found your own fruits and made a delicious fruit tart on the way. I love all the flavors you put in there (haven't had a mountain apple since I lived in Hong Kong) but the flavors you represent are gorgeous.

emily (a nutritionist eats) said...

Love your post and beautiful pictures!

Anna said...

Wow...beautiful pictures, your babies look adorable. loved the picture of your girl in the river. Your pie looks delicious. Good luck in this round. You sure got my vote. Have a great week

burp_excuzme said...

You've got some of the most beautiful pictures ever. I love that this post isn't just about the food-- it's about the people, the experience, the emotion of delight and sensuality, too, so clear in every photograph. Brilliant.

Damaris said...

voted! Good luck

Amy (Sing For Your Supper) said...

What a great post!! Looks like you guys had so much fun!!! I'm a little jealous of all that wonderful fruit and nature...

Foododelmundo said...

What a lovely post. I live in the big ol' city and seeing this really makes me miss my simple rural upbringing. Thanks for the memories, the visit and the vote!

Delishhh said...

Love the post and the pictures are awesome!

Runs With Spatulas said...

Love your pics, and the story leading up to the recipe was great! Good luck in round 4!

Allison said...

This looks so yummy! I love how you included the hike and foraging in your process. I love, love, love Hawaii. Great job!

Jun Belen said...

What a lovely post. The photographs are so pretty and those fruits and that fruit tart are just simply gorgeous. I'm now daydreaming of Hawaii. Well done!

5 Star Foodie said...

This tart is looking so gorgeous and lovely with all those fresh fruits! The lilikoi glaze is very unique! Good luck in round #4! I will vote!

Maggie Hong said...

Ok, I'm a regular on here now! Mariko, very jealous! Free island fruits. I was just talking with a friend today about island fruits. Our closest hike is the Judd trail- was told today by friend that there are tons of strawberry guavas. And they also gave us some mountain apples that only my daughter likes. My son doesn't like them - unfortunately, costco fruits have spoiled his palate. I just tried Just Add Water's fruit box for the month - too pricey and stingy but my one year old loves the guavas and lilikoi's (the 3 they throw in), so I am looking for places to get some in town. Love your photos too.

thelittlefoodie said...

Maggie-- I know there are TONS of fruit spots close to you. Where exactly do you live? We'll find you some. Hawaii's too rich in fruit to not have all the guava and lilikoi you can get. :)

thelittlefoodie said...

That is very nice of you to say, since your photos are totally gorgeous. I've been dreaming about halo halo all day.

thelittlefoodie said...

Thank you! I probably can't take credit for how pretty Hawaii is, of course. :)

thelittlefoodie said...

Thanks so much. I'm feeling the pressure now that we're going to 72!

Foodshethought said...

What a beautiful post. My family lives in Hawaii, so I visit often. I consider it my second home, part of my heart is definitely there. Thank you for sharing.

Sues said...

This is beautiful! And I love how the recipe is so special to you and where you live :) I spent some time on the Big Island when my sister was living there and ever since, I've wanted to go back so badly and just do more exploring and wandering around!

Jeanne said...

I love the photos of your foraging adventure! And the tart looks incredible too. Excellent work on this tutorial, you have my vote!

Sonya said...

YYYYUUUUMMMM dont tell my hubby where the mountain apples are hiding. he's an addict. he prays over the mini tree we have in that back that one day it will grow and give him something to eat!

we also have a strawberry guava tree - but between the bird and the 2 year old, there's never any left!

Jayne said...

Wow! I just happened on your blog and realized I live near you! We recently moved to the North Shore this past summer. I'm liking this idea of my hubby foraging for fruit each week. It looks delicious and is definitely cost effective!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

This post wasn't just a recipe; it was an experience! I loved hiking with you through your photos. You have a vote from me!

My own post is a romp through croissant making that's filled with humor, exhaustion, and a little bit of popstar glamor. Come see if you'd like :)

thelittlefoodie said...

If you're on the North Shore there are definitely lots of places to find
fruit, just barely a step outside. You can even grow lilikoi in your yard!

thelittlefoodie said...

If we had a tree in our yard it would probably die from being over
harvested. :)
There are mountain apples all over the place though-- no reason for him to
not have his fill. Any wet valley hike should have a few.

DailySpud said...

"The whole fruit is like a fleeting moment" - such a beautiful description! And thanks for reminding us that recipes start with where our food comes from. It's a step we so often forget.

wizzythestick said...

Love this fruit. They are quite common here in the Caribbean where it is called pommerac or rose apple

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