Have you ever bitten into a bilimbi? Or juiced jaboticaba? These not-so-well-known edibles are among a growing number of ultra-exotic fruits that are intriguing island chefs and shoppers.
"Besides offering unique flavors, shapes and colors, they bring novelty to the table and can delight the senses," said Ken Love, president of the Hawai'i Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).
Members of the statewide organization are growing a wide variety of ultra-exotic tropical fruits, and they say the fruits are under-utilized by the mainstream market. Ultra-exotics under cultivation in Hawai'i include Surinam cherry, calamonsie, jackfruit, ulu, abiu, durian, lychee, white sapote, mangosteen and others.
"Many of our Hawai'i chefs are aware of their attributes and availability and are using them with great success," added Love. "You commonly see these ultra-exotics in ethnic and farmers' markets, but many of them are unknown to the typical Hawai'i consumer. We want to change that."
HTFG is working to build markets for these juicy rarities. Growers are partnering with chefs to present a series of free public taste tests and culinary demonstrations at stores on four Hawaiian Islands throughout 2012.
During ultra-exotic fruit events, attendees will be able ask questions and taste the chef's recipes. Participating stores will stock the fruit in their produce sections, accompanied by recipes and additional fruit information to take home.
Titled "New Markets for Ultra-Exotic Fruits," the event series is funded by the Hawai'i Department of Agriculture through a USDA competitive grant program to foster small farm sustainability. A total of eight events are planned around the state.
For more information, contact Love at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 969-7926.