Coffee, pineapple, missile warning, medicinal herbs … missile warning??!!!

What a crazy weekend this turned out to be.  For those not from here, the national news minimally covered the missile scare in Hawaii.  So to quickly summarize, on Saturday at 8:07 a.m. we (we being people in Hawaii who have cells phones) received a warning text to our phones stating that there was an incoming missile, take shelter, this was not a test.  The warnings subsequently came on the radio and on the television.  Hawaii has been preparing for such an event for months.  We get updates at work, and there is information in our newspapers regarding how we should prepare in the event this occurs.  Our sirens have been changed to include a new sound to indicate a missile strike. We’ve also been informed it would take 12 -15 minutes for a missile to strike us once launched.  To be clear it is a nuclear missile from North Korea that we are preparing for.  When that message came blaring across our phones, there was no reason to doubt it.  29 minutes later I got a text saying that there was no missile, it was a false alarm.  Talk about scary?!  I really cannot verbalize adequately those 29 minutes, but it was bad.  I had a lot of things planned for this past weekend, but the rest of Saturday was spent decompressing, and accessing my life.  Seriously, it was a life contemplating experience.  I’m still a little shaken, and the family members I was able to reach during that period were left shaken as well.

Homework!

So Saturday afternoon after I felt a little better, I decided it was time to get to work on my medicinal herb garden. My daughter and I had recently visited the used book store in Kona and I bought some books on the topic.  I also have a few books on Hawaii medicinal herbs.  I went on-line to Baker Creek Seeds, a really good source of organic products, and purchased a number of seeds to start this garden.  I took my hubby out, and showed him the spot I wanted to utilize for this purpose.  He’s all in.  I’m going to need some help with fencing, but hopefully I can do most of the planting myself.

This is the spot (the before)

It’s right next to the piece of property my husband is preparing for more pineapple.  I’ll start the seeds in containers first.  I’m going to carefully document what I’m growing and what they are utilized for.  I haven’t quite decided how to organize the garden.  I’ll probably have a native section of just Hawaiian medicinals, but I’m thinking about organizing them in sections according to health, i.e., skin issues, stomach issues, etc.  We’ll see; I need to do a little research and get some inspiration in order to make this a really special spot.  I also need to research the Hawaii medicinals better, and find a resource for those plants.  I’m very excited about this area.

In addition to the medicinals, we’re starting a whole new section dedicated to just white pineapple.

The new pineapple patch

If you’ve never had white pineapple, you’re missing a special treat.  You know how sometimes when you eat pineapple, it kind of burns your tongue a bit. The reason is does this is because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein.  I know this sounds bad, but it actually dissolves protein, so it’s literally eating at your tongue.  Your tongue produces new cells so quickly, that feeling goes away very fast once you stop eating the pineapple. White pineapple doesn’t do this.  I tried to find out why, and couldn’t locate any information.  But my guess is that it contains less bromelain.  Also known as sugar loaf, these pineapples are just the sweetest. It’s the only kind of pineapple we grow on our property.  In addition to just eating them fresh or putting them in smoothies, we also dry them and make a  liqueur with the fruit.  My husband prepared the land today, and soon we’ll be planting the slips.  It takes about 1 1/2  years for us to get pineapples off the slips.  Slips come out of the bottom of the pineapple after it’s done growing.   Some people grow pineapple straight from the tops.  There is debate about what makes a better pineapple.  The tops take longer to grow, about 2 years.  We’ve found that tops produce smaller inferior tasting pineapples.  Others will argue the opposite.  But on our property, the best pineapple come from the slips. We have a few patches of pineapples already and get a nice yield, but we love them so much we wanted more.  It’s also one of the crops we sell.

Today, I picked the last of this yield of coffee.  We do have some new flowers and beans on some of the trees, so we’re not completely done.  It’ll be awhile before those are ready to pick, so for about a month or so, we have a reprieve from picking coffee!!! Yeah!!

Otis swimming with ducks

It’s been a warm few days, so we’ve enjoyed the pool.  We have no idea why, but recently the ducks have been coming up to swim.  UGH!! They’ve got 5 ponds they can swim in down in the garden, and they come up to use ours???  Otis was NO help at all.  On one level we’re glad he’s not chasing/killing ducks, but swimming with them?  Otis, help us out buddy.

Holidays are over, guests are gone, and our daughter is back in school on the mainland.  Things are quieter, but still busy, just a different kind of busy.  Farm busy.

 

 

 

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The Miracle Berry

So I managed to get most of my “to do’s” done before Christmas.  The tree didn’t get up until the 23rd, but hey it was before Christmas so it counts!  We picked a bunch of coffee, scooped lilikoi, picked mulberries, and even made jam.  I have family in town which is always nice.  What I most love about company, whatever time of year, is that it forces us to get out of the farm routine (or other household chores), and get out and explore the island or just go to the beach for the day.  We also love sharing our little farm, and showing everyone what we grow and produce.  This brings me to my next blog topic … the miracle berry.

Most of the things we grow on our farm are for  our consumption or for selling.  We do have some flowers which I love to pick and display.  And then we have the miracle berry.  What is exactly is this little fruit??

It’s a red berry that grows on a small shrub. When the flesh part of the fruit is sucked on (we don’t really eat it, we just break the berry up in our mouth and kind of suck on it for a few minutes and then spit it out), a molecule in the berry binds to your tongue’s taste buds which causes sour foods to taste sweet.  You can suck on a lemon and it tastes super sweet.  The molecule is called glycoprotein and it contains miraculin, a carbohydrate chain within the molecule, hence the name “miracle” berry.  It’s pretty amazing,  and it never ceases to thrill those who try it.  The effect lasts about 30 minutes or so.  Anything sweet is intensified.  I once had spaghetti for dinner soon after I tried a miracle berry, and it ruined it.  The sauce was so sweet, I couldn’t eat it.

I often wonder about this plant, and why nature created something like that.  I think it was tried as a sugar substitute, but for some reason it didn’t quite work.  Maybe back in the day when people sailed the world and scurvy was an issue, it made lemons and limes more palatable. The shelf life of a miracle berry is only a few days after it’s picked, so I don’t know that they would’ve brought it on a ship.  What I do know is that it is a neat little addition to our farm that we enjoy sharing it with guests, and they in turn enjoy trying it.

 

Chickens

We recently bought four new chickens.  They’re not quite full grown, but should be laying in the near future.  Two of the chickens are Polish.  I’ve never heard of Polish chickens before and even though they apparently aren’t the best layers I insisted on getting them because 1) I’m part Polish!! and 2) they’re a little different looking than the normal chicken.  They have have what looks like hair on top their heads.  IMG_1023.JPG

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Above are pictures of the all the chickens we got.  The all black one is Polish, and the black and red one at the top is a Polish one as well.  We’re keeping them separated from the rest of the flock for a few weeks so they can get a little bigger and get used to the place.

We’ve got a lot of fruit ripening right now – dragon fruit, pineapples, mangoes, starfruit (we’re loaded!), bananas, berries, and lemons.  We’ll be selling some of the dragon fruit and starfruit shortly.  I’m going to try making limoncello again with our lemons.  We have the perfect lemons for this, Meyer lemons, but last time I made it, I think there was too much pith in the rind still and it just did’t taste that good.  So this time I’ll take it slower, and see how it comes out.  I’ll keep you posted as to my efforts on that one. IMG_1017.JPG

Fruit salad from the farm.

Coffee time!

Berries are starting to turn red.  Last week, I picked some of my sister in laws beans, and this week, I picked a few of ours as well.  Good news is that while there appears to be some coffee borer beetles in our beans, it is very minimal.  This last batch had only 2 beans with the beetle.  I’m so relieved, but still cautiously optimistic.  We’re going to be treating monthly to help insure the level of infestation stays really low.

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We recently made a big decision regarding our coffee processing.  We decided to purchase a motor for our cherry huller, a larger home roaster, and a parchment husker.  We currently have a cherry huller, that takes the red coating off the bean (see pictures above).   As you can see from the above picture, there is a hand crank.  It works well, and is a work out in some respect, but with the amount of beans we produce, hand cranking just isn’t sustainable.  This new motor will make this process substantially quicker. For large yields, we typically sent our beans off to a local coffee producer  who would take the parchment off the bean and then roast the coffee.  These recent purchases will allow us to do this all by ourselves.  The roaster that we had (and still have) roasts about 1/2 pound of coffee.  The new roaster will roast about 5 pounds of coffee at a time.  I’m excited to take this big step.  It was a large investment financially, but in time in will easily pay for itself.  Best of all, it looks like the family will be getting some special estate coffee for Christmas!!

 

Jaboticaba

 

 

 

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We have two jaboticaba trees on our property.  One has never flourished.  The other, however, when in season bears a ton of fruit.  Okay maybe not an actual ton, but a lot.  The jaboticaba grows on the trunk of the tree.  It’s odd looking.  It almost looks like some sort of wart or growth on the tree.  I actually know people who won’t eat it because of this very reason.  It is a shame for them, however, because the fruit is delicious.  It looks a lot like a dark purple grape, but the skin is much thicker.  When eating, you can eat the skin, but most people don’t as it’s a little tough and slightly bitter.  Rather you simply pop the whole thing in your mouth,  pop it open with your teeth and suck the pulp and seeds out.  Then you spit the skin and seeds out.  It doesn’t sound too attractive but it is really good.  People make jelly, wine and liqueurs out of it.  The wine process is a bit time consuming and to be honest I’m always nervous about the fermenting process, so I haven’t tried that yet.  We picked two large baskets full of the berries.  I made some jelly and am in the process of making the liqueur.  This jar will sit for a few months before I strain it and add a simple sugar syrup to taste.

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Jaboticaba can fruit year round if taken care of well.  This is our second batch this year.  Once ripe, they don’t stay fresh long.  So it’s important to pick quickly, else they’ll simply fall on the ground and rot.  Jaboticaba is native to Brazil.  It has high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-aging properties (who doesn’t want that??).  It is also a good source of Vitamin C, B1, calcium and phosphorous.

 

It’s raining mulberries, hallelujah

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We have loads of mulberries right now.  I learned recently that mulberries are part of the fig and breadfruit family.  Mulberries are super easy to grow here.  When in season, we can pick all day long.  The berries should be picked when they’re dark purple, not red.  Mulberries are a good source of vitamin C and have more C than oranges.  As a fruit, they  provide high levels of protein and iron.  Mulberries have many health benefits from building bone density, preventing cancer, aiding digesting, and reducing stress.  Not only can the berries be eaten, but the leaves can be used to make tea.  I haven’t made tea yet from the leaves, but I use the berries to make jam and often put them in scones.

We picked a bunch of berries today.  We’ve been freezing them, so when I have a large batch I can make some jam.

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It’s been dry and sunny for the last week.  David was able to drain and repaint the pool.  We filled it up yesterday.  It looks so nice.  Much improved from the last photo I shared.

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With the dry weather, I’ve had an opportunity to explore the farm and see what’s growing and sprouting.  We have so many flowers on our mango and avocado trees.  There are flowers on the jaboticaba and cherry trees, and new flowers on our allspice tree.  And for the first time, we have some flowers budding on our clove tree.  I’m so excited about that.  Cloves take a long time to produce the flower, they say 10 years.  Ours has been growing for longer than that.  We also have a flower on our giant lilikoi.  It’s beautiful.  I’ll write more about the giant lilikoi once we get actually have one.  But here’s the flower.

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