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.

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Home is my happy place

I’ve been on Oahu for a week on business and the weekend before we were there visiting family.  It’s nice to be home.  I got up early and exercised.  This is actually quite a big deal for me because I fell of the exercise wagon awhile back, and couldn’t even see the dust of the wagon anymore – that’s how long it’s been.  I started back up on Oahu because our training started later than I normally go to work and since my commute was an elevator ride instead of a 40 mile drive, I had plenty of time to go to the gym, no excuses.  Except for the first two days of having difficulty walking because my legs were so sore, I was happy to start this routine again.

So now back at the homestead.  I took a nice stroll through the farm with my camera to check things out and just enjoy the morning air.  So some happenings:

Tangerines:

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This may not seem that exciting, but to me it is.  All along my drive to work and through Hilo town I see houses with mature tangerine trees that are just LOADED.  They have so many tangerines they don’t know what to do with them.  But alas ours at home have none or very few every year.  We have two trees.  Well this is the year, we’re going to get tangerines!  Lots of tangerines.  I’m so excited to finally have them.  Not sure what it can be attributed to, but we are definitely seeing more bees than we have in awhile so I’m sure that’s part of it.

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I stumbled across this gorgeous little bird’s nest in our soursop tree.  It was high up, so it was hard to get the shot in focus, and although I didn’t capture the whole thing, I liked the way this photo came out.  This bird did a lot of work on her little home.

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I fed the ducks, geese, geese and chickens.  For the most part the birds all get along.  I love the variety.

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I picked some black raspberries for breakfast.  We’ve got a bunch right now.  I can always get my husband to pick these with the promise of fresh scones.  This is a thorny little plant, but the berries are worth a poke now and then.

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Our red bananas finally have a bunch.  I’ve never had them before, but I believe they’re more of a cooking banana.  More on those once they’re ripe.

We have a pumpkin vine starting again, which will be nice for the holidays.  We have lots of guava, so I’ll probably be making some more jelly soon.  The new coffee plants my husband planted in our new coffee field are growing so well.  The dragon fruit season is winding down.  We still have quite a few, but not a ton for selling.  The starfruit is loaded as is the breadfruit.  I ended up bringing about 60 breadfruit into my office to give away.  I didn’t realize there were so many breadfruit lovers.  It is a versatile fruit.  In addition to the tangerines, our other citrus are doing well, and we should have a number of different types of oranges this year.

Today is just touching base and putting things away from two weeks of travel.  Tomorrow, coffee bean picking … maybe some black raspberries scones first!

 

 

Guava guava jelly

We have a few guava trees on our property.  The most prolific one is right next to one of our ponds and many of the guavas end up in the pond.  Unfortunate for us, but the ducks eat them so not as unfortunate for them.

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So I spent the morning making guava jelly (while humming the Ka’au Crater Boys guava jelly song the whole time).  Not sure if my nephew Mika reads this blog, but yes, I’ll be sending some his way.  Guavas have a lot of pectin, so making jelly is super easy.  I simply cut the guavas in quarters and boiled with a little water for about 45 minutes.  Then I strained all the seeds out.  Once I had the juice, I measured it.  You’re supposed to use equal part sugar to equal parts juice, so I had 8 cups juice, which technically means I should’ve used 8 cups sugar.  I used a little less sugar just to try and be “healthier”.  But as anyone knows who makes jelly, if you don’t use sugar it’s not going to jell.  I also added about 1 cup of lime juice. It’s a little more lime juice than most recipes call for, but guava jelly is super sweet, so it adds a tiny bit of tart.  I then boiled everything together again, first a rolling boil to dissolve the sugar, then a steady boil (I set my stove to 6 out of 10 in heat) for about half an hour.   It’s super important to stir throughout, especially if the sugar hasn’t dissolved; one it can actually burn, and two it can boil over your pot.  Sticky jelly all of your stove it not fun, and unfortunately I keep learning that lesson over and over again.  DO NOT leave a pot of jelly unmanned on your stove for more than 2 seconds.  Don’t do it, I tell you, it’s a mess.  I digress, after it’s cooked and you test for readiness (I use the cold spoon test – dip a cold spoon into your mixture, let it sit, is it starting to get tacky – yes, it’s ready, no cook a little longer), pour into jars, boil jars, then Pau – Guava jelly.  Well not quite, done, they have to cool and set, but that just requires waiting.

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Finished product

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It came out a dark red color, I think because I used an organic raw sugar instead.  It’s usually a little more pink colored.  It tastes pretty good if I say so myself.

I also picked up lilikoi today; I say picked up, because you’re literally picking them off of the ground.  If you try and pick a lilikoi on the vine, it’s not going to be ready, be patient, let them drop – they’re sweeter that way.  Lilikoi jelly is my husband’s FAVORITE!  Last year, we had a horrible year, and only had a handful of lilikoi.  Usually we have a loads.  This is year is better than last, not like our normal yield, but I should have enough eventually to make some jelly.  I also make a mean lilikoi liqueur.  I hope I have enough lilikoi this year to make some of that as well.  We have a number of varieties of lilikoi on the property.  The purple one is new and isn’t fruiting yet, but our orange and yellow varieties are fruiting.

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You can see the difference in the two in the picture above.  I find the yellow one slightly more tart and the orange a little sweeter, but they’re both delicious.

We have a lot of fruit right now.  My son took the picture below.  Not only did he take the picture, he harvested all the fruit.  I saw it on his Instagram account, and wished I had the picture for my blog.  Little did I know he actually took some pictures of the yield with my camera.  What a nice surprise.  (Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, starfruit, dragonfruit, papaya, pumpkin, and breadfruit, oh my!)

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He took a bunch of pictures.  I love this one, because Otis is licking his lips.  He loves bananas!  I made some pumpkins soup out of the pumpkins, we dried the pineapple, my son gave some of the breadfruit away (we have SOOOO many if anyone wants), and we’re slowly eating or giving other stuff away.

I feel extremely grateful for this little piece of heaven.  But most of all I’m extremely grateful for my husband.  The property was beautiful when we got it, but all the trees, and ponds, and fruit and vegetables, that was my husband’s work.  He is the hardest worker I know.  When he comes home from work, he’s in the garden.  Every weekend, he is in the garden.  While I know for a fact, it is a lot of hard work for him, the farm is his church – it’s his place to connect and be grounded.  He loves it, and I love that he loves it. I’m grateful everyday for him.

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.

 

Starfruit

To say our tree is loaded would be an understatement. The pictures don’t do it justice. The boughs of the tree are so heavy I think they may break. So what do you do with so much starfruit?  Give it away, sell it, eat it, juice it , and make jelly. Starfruit juice is mild so I juiced it with some turmeric, ginger, and carrots for a nice healthy concoction. For jelly I added some mineola oranges, guava, pineapple, and lemons for a nice tropical blend jelly.

Starburst also know as carambola may have originated from Sri Lanka.  It can be found all over now in Asia and the Pacific islands. It’s rich in potassium and vitamin c. It can cause problems for people with kidney issues because it has oxalic acid. Like grapefruit it can interfere with some medications for high blood pressure. You have to eat a lot, but it is good information to know.

Some of our starfruit are HUGE, like the size of a head. For those unfamiliar, when you slice it to eat , it forms perfect little stars, hence the name starfruit.

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