The Giant Lilikoi

First and foremost there is such a thing.  We have one growing on our property now.  It is the same genus as the lilikoi or passionfruit, but it is not the same species.  Giant lilikoi also known as giant passionfruit or Giant Granadillas has the scientific name Passiflora quadrangularis.IMG_0204.jpg

You can see above, the giant lilikoi is just that, GIANT.  The reason we started growing it is because we love lilikoi, and what could be better than a giant one, right?  When in season, I make lilikoi jelly, it’s my husband’s favorite of all the jellies I make.  Making jelly requires individually cutting a lot of lilikoi and scooping out the pulpy seeds.  Imagine (at least this is what I thought), a giant lilikoi filled with copious amounts of pulpy seed.  I was excited at the prospect.  Instead of scooping 100 lilikoi, I could cut 5 and have the same amount pulp for jelly.  Well it didn’t quite work out that way.  But don’t worry, in some regard, it came out better.

 

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This is what the giant lilikoi looks likes on the inside.  Yes, there still is a pulpy seed center, but surrounding it, is a fleshy outer core.  When ripe it can be cut just like a melon.  We tried one for the first time about a week ago, and I am excited to report it was delicious.  To me it tasted just like a pear, my husband thought it tasted like honeydew melon.

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Above is a picture of some of the fruits growing on a vine.  The vine currently is growing over one of our avocado trees.  It’s such a large fruit that this is working out quite well as they hang nicely.  Ripe, the lilikoi turns a slight orange, just slightly.  We’ve waited way too long on many of them and they just rot. You can eat them green and cook it much like a squash or green papaya.

I did scoop the center out and juiced it to see what it tasted like.  It was not as tart as a regular lilikoi and tasted a little like an orange to me, but milder.

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The flower of the lilikoi is so exotic.  The giant one is even more so.  I would definitely recommend this plant to the home gardener.  Right now our vine has about 10 lilikoi in various stages of development.  You do need something to hang your vine on, because fruit on the ground tend to rot faster.  It’s perfect for our climate in Hawaii, although it doesn’t like flooding, so don’t plant it in any area that can be prone to that.   It grows best from seed, but you can propagate it from cuttings.  Typically it takes a couple of weeks to germinate, but can take longer in colder temperatures.  There are ways to prepare your seeds to help propagate it better – soaking the seed the 48 hours and scraping the seed with a little sandpaper before planting it said to help the process.  We’ll try growing some here to see how quickly we can get them to sprout.  But truth be told, one vine is plenty for us, it’s a little like a Jack and the beanstalk vine, luckily we have a large avocado tree for it to grow on.

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Avocados

 

We have 14 different varieties of avocado growing on our property.  We have 19 trees total.  The goal was to try to produce avocados that would give us a year round supply.  We’re close, although while is a period where we get a break from ripe avocados, there is at least one tree if not more with avocados on it at any given time.

Above is a picture of the avocados that are currently fruiting.  Sometimes when we get an avocado, we are told it is one thing, but when it fruits, it is clearly not what we thought we bought.  We have a few of those trees on our property and have done our best to figure out exactly what kind of avocado they are.  You can grow an avocado from a seed, and a lot of people do just that.  But here’s the rub, the only way you will know what kind of avocado you will actually get is by grafting a known avocado scion (a branch that is about to start budding into leads) on to a root stock.  You have to match the diameter of the scion exactly to the root stock.  Avocados cross pollinate which means they can get pollinated by bees or the wind from avocados in the area, so you don’t know what kind of avocado you will get.

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So from left to right, the avocados above are:

  1. Kahalu’u
  2. Linda (these get HUGE aka dieter avocado due to low oil content)
  3. Malama (easy to tell because it gets really dark purple)
  4. Murashige
  5. Pinkerton
  6. ? we were told this is a Kahaluu, but it looks nothing like our kahaluu.  we believe it’s a Nishikawa.
  7. ? Again, we were told it’s a Malama, but it doesn’t have the classic purple until it’s completely ripe.  We believe it’s a cross between a Malama and a Sharwil
  8. San Miguel (MY FAVORITE!!!!)
  9. Sharwil
  10. ? (this was here when we moved in, we think it’s a mini shawil, it has a tiny tiny seed)

Our spring/summer avocados which aren’t shown in the picture are Yamagata, green/gold, Ota, and Fujikawa.  We have one other variety that was grafted by a co-worker’s husband from a tree in their neighbor’s yard.  He named it after the neighbor whose name we can’t remember.

All of our our avocados are creamy and buttery.  If we had a tree produce stringy, watery ones, it would be cut down, and use it for mulch.  My absolute favorite avocado is the San Miguel.  While I said all our avocados are buttery, this one is the so creamy it melts in your mouth.  We have 3 of these trees.

We had one avocado tree growing when we bought the property.  So the remaining 18 were planted by my husband in the last 13 years.  All are producing at this point.  From graft it takes about 3 – 5 years to start producing fruit.

Avocados are one of the healthiest foods for you.  In a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving you will find:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
  • Then it contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).

This serving size has 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 “net” carbs, so it’s considered a low-carb food.  Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fats.

 

 

What it takes to make a cup of coffee …

The first year that we harvested coffee from our own plants and roasted it, we didn’t get much. We had a couple of pounds of processed coffee.  The processing of that first batch taught us a lot.  Everything that first year was done by hand.  We hand pulped the coffee and hulled the parchment by hand as well, as we had no equipment.  Those two bags were precious, and I wouldn’t have sold them for anything (well maybe for a whole lot of money, and I’m talking a few grand).  I barely wanted to offer anyone a cup of coffee, let alone a bag.  It was a LOT of work, and after that I can say that I truly appreciate a cup of coffee because I literally know the work that goes into making it.

I’m not a huge coffee drinker, and reserve it mostly for the weekends sitting on the porch in the morning before we start our day.  But I think anyone who grows things, whether it be on a huge farm, or a backyard plot, or herbs grown in a planter on the kitchen window, understands the work done to have producing plants.  That translates to the taste of the products grown.  Whether it actually tastes better may be subjective, but it’s yours from your hard work, so yeah, it tastes the best, better than anything you’ve ever tasted before.  AND just for the record, I want to be clear from an purely objective view point, our coffee is the best coffee around, and not because we’ve grown, just because it actually is.

So over the last few years, we’ve progressed from hand processing to buying equipment to assist with that processing.  That was a quick decision; hand pulping a bucket of coffee cherries is one thing, it simply can’t be done when you have any bulk.  Well sure it can be done, but not without losing your sanity, and without any level of efficiency.  So our first pulper was one that we have now, we’ve just added the motor this year.  Seriously can I get an “Amen” for electricity.   We picked about 10 gallons of coffee yesterday, and that little motor got it done in minutes.  There is something to hand cranking, and muscles gained in the process, but after picking for two hours, you don’t want to hand crank anything.

IMG_0975.jpgwith the hand crank

IMG_0130.JPGwith the motorized crank.

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The cherry is the red coffee bean

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So the hubby and I got in a little disagreement last week about when to pick.  He thought we should wait a week, and I thought he didn’t want to pick that weekend, and he was coming up with excuses.  But well, he was right.  We waited a week, and our cherries are a beautiful dark red, and clearly that weren’t quite ready to pick the week before.  The picture above shows a little bit of whitish residue on our cherry and leaves.  That is a clay we are using to manage the coffee borer beetle, and it works like a charm.  It’s all natural, and organic, and we’ve had a lot of success with that.  We had probably 5 beans yesterday that showed coffee borer damage, and that’s out of 10 gallons.

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fermented bean (they get all bubbly)

So after you get the red cherry off the bean, you ferment your beans. Best fermenting times are 8 – 14 hours, it depends, on the quantity of beans you have, the temperature,  and the kind of bean.  When you take the red part of the bean, you’re left with two slimy half beans.  They’re slippery, and hard to pick up if they fall on the ground because of that mucilage.  So the fermenting part, gets rid of that mucilage.  Too much fermenting can change the taste of the coffee bean.  It’s an art, growing and processing is an art.  It’s an art we’re learning, which means one day our coffee, which is already really good, will be even better.

After fermentation is done, you rinse the beans off with water, and lay the coffee out on dry racks.  We now have a little house my husband built.  Today, it’s raining, so that house is awesome.  Our first go at dry racks worked well, but they were only protected from the elements from three sides, so during raining season, we did have some beans go bad with mold.  This shouldn’t happen in our dry house. Again, something we learned along the way.

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Drying coffee can take about a week or so.  Yesterday it got up to 104 degrees in the dry house.  We have a fan in there as well.  Ideally you want it less than 100 degrees, but hot, hence the drying part.  But Mother Nature has a lot of control over that.    You dry the coffee so that the bean has about 10 -12% moisture left.  This is something my husband can tell.  He literally bites the bean and he can tell if its dry enough.  I’m still learning this part.  Once dry, you can store coffee with its parchment on for up to two years.  We keep ours in large burlap bags, until we’re ready to roast it.

When it’s time to roast, you remove the parchment.  This is the paper like part covering the bean.  We had a small hand parchment remover, which was fine when we just wanted to roast a batch for ourselves.  But we’d have to put the coffee beans in a few times to fully remove the parchment.  Not only was it time consuming, but it would damage some the beans in the process.  So we ended up buying the electric huller.  Again, can I get an “Amen” for electricity.  This will save us a lot of time.  I’m not going to lie, it was spendy, but we decided to go for it, as we’re going to be doing all our own processing.

IMG_0137.JPGcoffee be a with parchment on top, coffee bean (green bean) with parchment removed on bottom

 

IMG_0140.jpgold huller

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new huller

Once the parchment is off you can roast.  For our coffee, we’ve found that that French Roast or dark roast leads to a really smooth coffee taste – not fruity, and little to no bitter after taste.

IMG_1008IMG_1009IMG_1011Coffee roaster

 

IMG_0142.jpgThen we weigh it, and bag it in 1/2 pound or pound bags, and put our pretty label on it.

 

There is a whole other discussion on how to actually to brew your coffee. I will say, don’t grind the bean until you’re ready to actually make your coffee.  That preserves the quality of your bean the best.  But using a French press, or ninja machine, or regular coffee brewer, is a whole conversation in and of itself.

And that my friends, in a nutshell is how you make a cup of coffee …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When life give you lemons …

make limoncello.  It took a lot longer to do than I had planned.  Making limoncello is actually easy.  You basically peel lemons and then scrape off all the pith and put the pithless rinds in a jar with some alcohol.  I chose vodka.  I made limoncello once before with Everclear; it tasted like rubbing alcohol.  Okay, well I’ve never actually tasted rubbing alcohol, but that’s what it smelled like and my limoncello was horrible.  It was a waste.  So this time, I took my time and really made sure all the pith was off which was pretty time consuming – hence the “it took longer than I had planned” part.  For those who don’t know the pith is the white stuff on the inside of a rind, and when making limoncello that pith will ruin your liqueur.  I followed a recipe just to insure I had the right proportions and used 10 Meyer lemons.   I choose vodka because I’ve had success making liqueurs with that before.  I made jelly out of the remaining parts of the lemon.  If the limoncello doesn’t come out, at least I have the jelly.  That tasted good, it takes like lemonade in a jar.

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I also finished making the pineapple liqueur.  It’s okay tasting, just a hint of pineapple.  I think I may have let it sit too long, which I didn’t know was possible.  My son said he had some made by someone else, and they only let it sit overnight and their’s was delicious.  Next time I’ll try it that way.  The lilikoi, however, I know tastes better sitting.  I tried it yesterday, it was okay.  I need to add more lilikoi, but we don’t have any currently, so I’m waiting.  You can see the pineapple liqueur in the top left corner of the picture.

For the limoncello, the recipe said let it sit for 3 days, so I will do that and see what happens.  Crossing my fingers it comes out okay because we have so many lemons, and this would make a really nice Christmas gift.  I bought some really pretty bottles at Ben Franklin the other day just for this purpose.

We should have plenty of coffee this year, so I’ll be making my coffee liqueur like I do each year.  For coffee liqueurs I usually use rum instead of vodka for the alcohol.  I like making liqueurs because it’s a different way of preserving what we grow, they’re easy to make, and they’re the perfect gift to bring when invited to a holiday party.