Citrus (and blogging)

So I’m late on this post, my goal is posting once a week.  I’m in the process of switching blog sites.  In an effort not to lose my domain name “ourhawaiifarm.com”, this process has been a major hassle and a time consuming one.  Oh, and frustrating, did I mention, extremely frustrating.  So I didn’t want to post until I could post on the new site.  Seeing as this may not happen for a few more days (or so I’ve been told), I’m just going to continue to write in a timely manner.  For those contemplating a switch, if you’re not completely savvy to this blogging world thing (which I am not) find someone to help you OR pay the extra bucks to do it an easier way.

So done with that rant, BUT be looking for a new looking site soon (crossing fingers … waiting impatiently).

Okay, now the farm.  We’re overloaded on citrus right now.  So I must make a confession.  I know I’ve mentioned this in my blog previously, although not in this context.  I’ve always been jealous of the people who have tons of citrus on their trees, BUT also a little judgmental about their lack of prompt picking – okay, a lot judgmental.  I’d often see piles of fruit on the ground wasted, and I would think that they were a bit lazy for not picking their fruit.  But now, I understand why this happens because I’m faced with the same dilemma.  Our tangerine tree became so loaded so fast it was all we could do to keep up.  I went down to the tree determined to pick all the ripe tangerines and give them to neighbors and friends just so they wouldn’t waste.  But there were plenty on the tree that had already been stung by fruit flies that were no good, not to mention the loads on the ground already fermenting.  Plus the fact that my husband and I work all week at jobs that actually pay us, we’re limited to work that is done during the week, hence limited picking time.  So never again will I question others picking practices.  I get it, I get it, sometimes there is too much of a good thing.

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In addition to tangerines, we have Meyer lemons, Tahitian limes, different types of oranges, kumquats, and ruby red grapefruit.  Some of the oranges we have were here when we bought the property.  We don’t know all the varieties that we have, but we do have caracara which are a really pretty pink side, blood oranges, and minneolas which are great for juicing.  We also have what appears to be a Ka’u orange.  This year, all of all citrus are doing well.

If you’re a backyard farmer and you can only grow one kind of citrus, hands down I would say choose a Tahitian lime.  The limes are larger than your typical lime, and turn yellow when ripe.  They’re really juicy and have a slightly sweeter taste.  They’re great, but best of all the tree fruits year round.

I’d write more, but I have a ton of oranges, and I need to get juicing!!

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Ulu (breadfruit)


Ulu is a Hawaiian canoe plant, meaning the plant was brought by Hawaiians on canoes to the islands. Also known breadfruit, it is a very versatile fruit. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to cut it up and boil it. After it cools I cut it into bite-size pieces and fry in olive oil with a little garlic salt. You can also roast it or bake it. It can also be prepared like poi. I found a really good recipe for breadfruit pudding; it’s like bread pudding but instead of using bread you use breadfruit.  I’ve attached the recipe that I used this week. It turned out really well.  Breadfruit is a little like the jackfruit in that it also has a sticky sap. It’s not as bad as the jackfruit I will say, but if you oil your knife well before cutting it open, it helps a lot with the cleanup later .

Breadfruit Pudding – Jamaican Recipes

The breadfruit tree itself is one of my favorite plants. It has beautiful big leaves which are shown in the picture above. You can also see the white milky sap coming from the fruit in the picture above. After you pull one off the tree it’s a good idea to let it sit outside until the sap stops running. It doesn’t take more than half an hour for it to stop. The breadfruit ripens quickly and should be used within a few days of picking.

To market to market …


It was a busy afternoon harvesting dragon fruit,starfruit , and Meyer lemons. We’re selling them to a local CSA in Hilo. Dragon fruit is our cashcrop we sell each year but this is the first time were selling the lemons and starfruit. Our tree is so loaded with starfruit I’m surprised some branches haven’t snapped yet. We gathered almost 400 pounds of all the fruits today.
Weekends are usually tied up with farm and home chores that we barely ever go to the beach anymore. But this morning, David had to work so we ventured to the Kona side, and got some snorkeling in. It was so nice. Then we made a quick pit stop to Costco.  It was a good, productive day. Feeling very grateful.

Pumpkins

We have so many Kabocha pumpkins right now. I started with five and took this picture after I already cut one. One pumpkin produces a lot meat. What’s nice about this pumpkin is the skin can be eaten too. I ended up cutting four and froze 10 -1 quart bags for later use. I also saved some to roast this week. I even saved the seeds and roasted them in a little olive oil and salt. They were really tasty.
I also cut one of the jackfruit and am drying that. I covered everything in plastic and wore gloves before I started cutting it. It was much better this time.

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We had  great blue heron stop by for a short three day visit. In case you’re thinking I didn’t know there were herons in Hawai’i, you would be somewhat correct. There is the Aukuu which is a black crown night heron that is native but the great blue isn’t from here. Sometimes they find their way here but they’re a long way from their home. It appeared his wing was a bit damaged but he was still able to fly. He feasted on tilapia from our pond, got his strength back then was gone. He was tall around 4 feet. He was skiddish so some patience got me this shot. Truth be told I wish he would’ve stayed. The other birds, our chickens and ducks didn’t seem to mind him at all either. He would’ve been welcome to the family.

Acerola Cherry Tree

We’ve had our acerola cherry tree almost ten years, and have had very little fruit.  My husband thought of getting rid of it a time or two, but I said give it time.  He fertilized it and gave it some potassium, and BOOM, we’re loaded with cherries.  The acerola cherry while not related to a regular cherry is eaten and can be prepared the same way.  The pit is not hard, it’s rather soft and fleshy, kind of like an apple core, but way smaller.  So making into a pie would be a bit tedious.  We picked a bunch this morning added some lilikkoi and made a beautiful looking jelly.  It’s almost too pretty to eat.  The acerola cherry tree is a prized plant.  It can be easily grown in Hawai’i and is drought resistant.  We used to have a plant in Waikoloa and that bore fruit all the time.  I have to wonder if the drier climate might have something to do with it.  The fruit is highly prized because it has many vitamins and minerals.  It has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C than any other fruit, 65X more than an orange!  Sounds like a lot, but it’s true.  It is also good for regulating sugars in the body and has some anti-cancer properties.  So glad we decided to keep it around.  


I had two of these bowls full of cherries.  Apparently the green cherries have even more vitamin C than the red.  I just read that.  I’ll have to try it, although I’m thinking it might not taste so good.  

We had two of these bowls filled with cherries. 

the finished product!

Circle of Life

Ever since we got married, pets have been a part of our life.  When we moved to the farm, we expanded our family of furry friends to include many farm animals – sheep, donkeys, ducks, geese, chickens, a goat, not to mention our dogs and cats.  Along the way we have lost a number of animals, some due to things that happen on a farm; mongoose snatching baby chicks to wild dogs getting sheep.  It’s never easy, but it is part of living on a farm.  But when we lose one of our fur babies that have been with us awhile, it is difficult.  This past week, we lost Abby.  She came to us 12 years ago.  Her mom was hit by a car on the highway and was taken to the vet hospital.  She gave birth to three or four pups.  The person who found her on the highway nursed her back to health, and the pups were given to various homes.  We were one of those homes.  Abby had skin issues, one ear that went up and one that went down, and a large underbite.  To say she loved avocados is an understatement.  She used to find them and bury them for a later snack, at least that’s what we thought, we were never quite sure why she buried them.  No other dog could touch her avocado or she’d give them a quick nip.  She never had a dog mom, and tended to be a bit needy.  Best of all she was the sweetest dog, and we all loved her.  She loved to be petted, and wouldn’t let you stop once you started. She would nudge you to continue if you stopped, and if another dog came in for a pet, she would give them a good growl to stay away, as if to say, this is my human, go find your own.  She had a good 12 years. She got bladder cancer and when the vet said there was nothing they could do to cure it, we put her down so she wouldn’t be in pain.  Abby is buried underneath one of her favorite avocados trees.  We placed an avocado between her paws when we laid her down.  Rest in peace sweet girl.  We will miss you. 

Abby                Charlie                    Petie.                   Lily.                   Gus

Jackfruit


Jackfruit is the largest fruit in the world.  We have two jackfruit trees on our property.  One of them is fruiting well.  It has about 10 fruit on it in various sizes.  I picked this one about a week ago because it had a large crack in it. It ripened over the week so I cut it open today.  WHAT A MESS!  I recommend before you try and cut one open yourself and process it, read how to do it.  I read a number of different articles and watched a few videos.  If you get it just right you can avoid the latex which is like glue, super sticky glue.  You can see it above in the picture.  You need to oil your knife and board before you start to help in the clean up process later.  Even oiling it didn’t make it easier.  I should’ve wrapped the handle in plastic before I started.  I saw that one video, but thought it a bit much work, but now, I wish I would’ve worn gloves, and saran wrapped my whole kitchen before I started.  There are three different parts to the fruit you can eat.  You can see the seed above, they’re supposed to taste like a nut when roasted.  There’s the pod, which is the orange pocket that surrounds the seed, which we are drying, and then there is the shredded looking stuff in between which you can make into a vegan pulled pork type of food.  Following is a picture of the pods which are in the process of drying, as well as the seeds and shredded pieces.  I’ve had dried jack fruit before, and really like it.  I’m going to be making the “pork” today and roasting the seeds.  We’ll see how that comes out.  Jackfruit can range from 10 to 100 pounds, there are record setting ones that are even larger.  I’d said this one weighed closer to 10.  I have a feeling I’m going to feel sticky for about a week, and this is after I scrubbed myself with comet.  I know I know, not good, but did I tell you it was a MESS!

Asparagus

When we started our farm, we planted things we enjoyed, but we also thought about produce we could sell.  Two of our primary cash crops are dragon fruit and white pineapple.  We also experimented with different varieties of asparagus.  They do exceptionally well in Hawaii climate, and are a year round crop.  When not picked, the asparagus go to fern.  Most people wouldn’t even know it’s asparagus looking at it.  We started with 2500 crowns (starts) of asparagus and planted on not quite a quarter acre of land.  While it is still a future consideration for a cash crop for us, it is a little labor intensive for us, two people with full time jobs.  We hand pick the asparagus, which in an of itself is not difficult.  But asparagus grows fast.  We can pick in the morning, and then pick again in the afternoon.  Then there is getting the crop to the buyer.  It ended up being too much work.  My husband just mowed a field for picking.  Yesterday was the first day I could see some asparagus ready to pick.  I picked about 10.  I could see some more poking their way through the dirt.  This morning I went out and picked a bucket full.  And I know by this afternoon, there will be another bucket full.  If we don’t pick it, in about a week or so, it’ll all be fern.  

Once picked, we place it in a plastic bag or small pitcher with some water.  Asparagus lasts a long time once it’s refrigerated.  I’m going to experiment with canning some.  Since it’s a year round crop, my husband doesn’t quite see the purpose, we can get it when we want, but I’m going to try some pickling too, which I know he will enjoy. 

Our dragon fruit and pineapple are in season now too.  The dragon fruit should be ripening soon, and we’ll have a nice size crop this year.  Unfortunately we have someone or rather something eating much of our pineapple.  It’s a problem, we’re going to have to figure out how to deal with soon.  We had an unusual dragon fruit growing directly off the arm of the cactus.  The one on the top is how it normally grows.  My husband ate the other one, he said it tasted normal, it just looked a little weird.  Not sure how that happened, but nature does some surprising things sometimes. It’s just a reminder that in life it’s okay to be a little different.

 

Bread

I love homemade bread,  but have personally found it somewhat difficult to make a good loaf. I even purchased a bread machine many years back, but  the loaves were very dense, and the square shape aesthetically unappealing. I recently stumbled upon a recipe in Mother Earth News for artisan bread cooked in a Dutch oven. I have two Dutch ovens that I love and use frequently so I was excited to try this out. I haven’t tasted it yet but I must say it looks pretty good. Following is a link I found on line for the recipe as well as pictures of my own loaf.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/no-knead-dutch-oven-bread-recipe-zmaz07djzgoe.aspx