Thursday, June 11, 2015

guava ketchup

Eat the invasives! I love finding uses for the invasive plants around my land. I used tomato ketchup recipes as a guide to develop this recipe. It uses mostly guava, and tastes very much like tomato ketchup with a bit of a tropical zing. Delicious and addicting! Local restaurants should really serve something like this with taro or 'ulu fries/chips!

While usually I try to back off on sugar in recipes, I found that sugar is very important for making this guava ketchup like a tomato ketchup - the ketchups we are used to are so full of sugar! When I used less sugar, the result was still delicious, but more of a sweet-and-sour guava sauce than a guava ketchup. Try playing around with spicing and sweetening to your taste.

I used the common yellow guava (the one that is about the size of a plum and pink inside) for this recipe. The fruits were mostly firm-ripe, with a few under-ripe for more flavor and pectin. To prepare the puree, I chopped up the fruit and blended it with the juice of one lemon. I then strained the mixture to separate the seeds. Guava is so viscous that it needs to be coaxed through the sieve. I did this by stirring and mashing with a spoon.

guava ketchup


7 cups guava puree (the skin and inside without the seeds, plus some lemon juice)
spices to taste, I used:
  • 20 allspice seeds, crushed
  • 20 cardamom pods, sliced
  • 40 grains of paradise, crushed
  • 1 tbsp local Ceylon cinnamon
1.5 cups raw (turbinado) sugar
6 tbsp white vinegar (5%)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste  (for umami)
1/2 tsp salt


Add the spices and the raw sugar to the guava puree and bring to boil in a wide, shallow pan/pot. Turn down the heat to low boil. Cook down for about 2 hours, until the volume it about 1/2 of the original. The guava puree is viscous, so stir frequently to prevent burning.

Let cool slightly then strain the spices from the puree. Transfer back to the pout and add the rest of the ingredients. Boil for another 1 to 2 hours, while stirring, until it is the consistency of ketchup.

If you would like to can, check the pH to make sure it is 4.0 or below (if you follow this recipe, it should be well below that), ladle into 4 or 8 oz jars leaving ¼ inch headspace, and heat-process for 10 minutes.  If you don’t want to can, refrigerate to keep for a month.

This recipe yields about 35 oz (a bit over 4 half-pint jars) of ketchup.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

drunken jaboticaba preserves

I've been making batches of jaboticaba wine, the first step of which is a fermentation of the whole fruit. After a few days to a week, I strain the slightly-alcoholic liquid off the fruit. The liquid goes into a carboy for a couple more weeks of fermentation, while the role of the fruit skins and seeds is complete.

I hate throwing out the fruit! Especially since much of the health benefits of jaboticaba is in its skin. The left-over skins are fruity and a bit alcoholic, certainly well-preserved. So, I made a jam: why not?

Because the seeds are so bitter, I spent the time to separate them from the skins. A bit tedious, but listening to the radio helped me to get into the zen of it. The seeds go in the compost, and I weighed the skins as a starting point.

The preserves turned out well! Kind of sour cherry-like. The pectin can be adjusted or left out depending om how saucy you'd like it. I made a batch where I macerated about the same amount of skins with about 10 oz sliced calamansi limes. That was great, too, almost like cherry pie filling, but a bit more bitter.

drunken skins from 5 pounds of jaboticaba = 1 lb 11 oz
juice from a large lemon
1 tsp Pomona calcium water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup of sugar (I used Maui turbinado sugar)
1 tsp Pomona pectin

separating seeds and skins
Separate the skins and seeds. The seeds are perfectly edible and they add a nutty crunch so you can leave them in, but they also add a bitter flavor. Weigh the skins and adjust the amount of sugar according to the measurement (and according to taste).

simmering jaboticaba skins with a cinnamon stick
Add the lemon juice, calcium water, and cinnamon stick (or any other spices) to the jaboticaba skins and simmer for about 10 minutes. 
glossy and done
 Combine the sugar and pectin in a bowl and stir well. Add slowly to the fruit while stirring to avoid any pectin clumps. Boil for about 15 minutes until the mixture looks glossy and sets within a minute when a bit is tested in a dish. During this time, stir constantly to prevent sticking and burning. Also, pick out any seeds that that floated to the top.

Pour into 8oz jars and process for 15 minutes in a waterbath or steam canner. Or pour into a container and put into the refrigerator for short-term storage.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jaboticaba Ginger Calamansi Marmalade

yum, jaboticaba!
This marmalade has a deep, bright flavor without the bitterness of some marmalades. It's delicious! It uses about half the sugar of a typical jam, so you need to either bump up the sugar or use a low-sugar pectin like Pomona.

2 pounds jaboticaba
10 ounces calamansi
piece of ginger, about 2 inch more or less
2 teaspoons Pamona calcium solution
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons Pomona pectin

First: make jaboticaba-ginger juice

Wash and rinse the jaboticaba, tossing any that are moldy or "deflated." Under-ripe fruit is OK. Peel and cut ginger into about 1/2 inch cubes.

Put jaboticaba and ginger in a saucepan and fill to about an inch under the top of fruit. Boil for about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes into this time, use a wooden spoon to squash the fruit against the sides of the pot. This will help the flavors seep into the liquid.

jaboticaba bursts open as it boils

After about 45 minutes, turn off the heat and let the liquid cool for 10-20 minutes. Strain the solids and ginger chunks from the juice, pressing down on the peels and seeds.

straining jaboticaba juice
Second: prepare the calamansi

Wash and rinse the calamansi. Cut into halves then slice into semi-circles. Cit them as thin or thick as you would like them to be in your marmalade. Discard the seeds, but use everything else.

calamansi slivers
Third: make the marmalade

Warm the jaboticaba juice with the calamansi slivers and the Pomona calcium solution in the saucepan and bring to boil for about 10 minutes. Mix together the dry sugar and the Pomona pectin in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the sugar/pectin to the juice while stirring vigorously. This will prevent the pectin from clumping. Bring to a vigorous boil for about 10-15 minutes. Test to see if it gels by spooning a bit onto a cold plate. It should start gelling within a few minutes.

When you are convinced the mixture will gel, pour into jars. (about four 8 oz jars.) Refrigerate and use right away, or water bath or steam can for 15 minutes to store or gift.

This marmalade is packed with flavor! It's not too sweet and not bitter. Good on ice cream!

jaboticaba ginger calamansi marmalade

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mamee Apple Chutney

I'm so enamored with mammee apples. They aren't found commonly here, but I sometimes find them at Maku'u farmer's market from vendors/growers who embrace exotic fruits. Firm and tangy, they ease my craving for a summer nectarine or apricot.

mammee apple - yum!
 I found that Mammee apples also substitute for mangos in chutney. The should work in any recipe - try your favorite and let me know! I made some chutney with ingredients on-hand, trying to keep it mostly-local.

3 cups chopped ripe mammee apple
1/4 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (used homemade pineapple vinegar, if using something strong, may want to use less.)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/3 cup diced shallots
2 in piece grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients together in medium sauce pan.

mixed, before heating

Simmer together ~15 minutes, low heat, stir often. Mixture will

mammee apple chutney served with quinoa pilaf and homemade raita

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Purple Carrot Soup

Purple Carrot Soup on a stormy night.

Harvest time for the purple carrots in our garden mean that I can make the purple carrot soup I've dreamed of so long... well, since I planted the carrots about 93 days ago. These purple carrots are super-healthy due to the anthocyanins. Purple carrots seem exotic to us, but the common orange variety is actually the weird mutant. Read a bit about the strange and wonderful history of carrot color here.

garden-fresh purple carrots

~5 cloves of garlic (to taste)
1 veggie bullion cube
2 large shallots (or 1 onion), chopped
3 large purple carrots, chopped
~1 cup chopped cauliflower (optional)
~2 inch piece of ginger, diced
1 can of coconut milk
salt & pepper to taste

Minced the garlic on a garlic grater and put aside (so that the healthy allicin molecules can be synthesized)

Put veggie bullion and 1 cup water in medium size pot on stove. Add chopped shallots, carrots, cauliflower, and half of the ginger.

Simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

not the prettiest photo of the veggies getting soft

Add the rest of ginger and garlic and simmer 5 more minutes.

Let stand about 10 minutes to cool a bit.

Blend (with blender or hand mixer) until it is as smooth as you'd like.

Return to pot and add coconut milk.

Stir to mix together and add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat on low heat for about 5-10 minutes.

Serve in a bowl that shows off the fun purple color.

purple carrot, cauliflower, coconut milk soup


This wasn't made with local-only ingredients, but it certainly *could* be.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

tangerine marmalade with cardamom and vanilla

Pahoa Village was once known for its tangerines. Most of the orchards have disappeared, but half a dozen 70 year old trees surround our little house. They produce copious quanities of delicious fruit, most of which tragically goes to waste. Our morning fresh-squeezed juice accounts for some, but our tangerine wine trials from last year didn't yield great results. After learning that most of the nutrition of citrus is in its peel, I decided to try marmalade again.

I based this recipe on this Epicurious tangerine vanilla marmalade recipe, decreasing the sugar and adding my favorite spice: cardamom.

This country-style marmalade celebrates the bitter flavors of the citrus peel, combining them with the sweet spices of vanilla bean and cardamom seeds. We happened to have some plain shortbread received as a holiday gift. The marmalade was an amazing complement when served with hot tea. We found that it is also wonderful in crepes.


2 lbs tangerines
0-4 cups tangerine juice(or substitute water)
1 lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
2.5 cups sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
1 vanilla bean
12 green cardamom pods
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

tangerines from our 70-year-old trees

Quarter and slice cross-wise 2 pounds tangerines (about 6-8 of ours) and 1 lemon. Collect in a large bowl. I found that lightly squeezing the juice from the quarters and into the bowl before slicing allowed me to collect more of the juice. Otherwise, it is lost to the cutting board and counter. You can use everything except the seeds, but I also cut off a bit of rind at the ends for aesthetic reasons. Add about 4 cups liquid to cover the slices. I used 2 cups tangerine juice and 2 cups water. The recipe I was working from said to use water, but the suggestion by a commenter to use juice was irresistible to me. Let soak for a day, covered, at room temperature.

tangerine and lemon slices ready to soak overnight

 The next day, transfer slices and liquid to a pot. Add the seeds of a vanilla bean. You can also let the bean simmer, too. I cut the bean lengthwise and crosswise, ending up with 4 pieces. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute the vanilla seeds and prevent sticking at the bottom of the pot. Keep watch for any seeds that might have slipped in and remove them.

tangerine slices simmering with vanilla bean

Remove from heat and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Use more or less than 2.5 cups sugar to taste. Simmer another 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and more frequently as the time elapses. During this time, prepare canning accessories - jars, lids, etc. Also, remove cardamom seeds from the pods and grind.

crushed cardamom seeds

 About 10 minutes before the time ends, add the crushed cardamom. I also added 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom because I love that flavor! Stir in.

10 minutes before ladling to jars, cardamom added

At the end of the time, remove pot from heat, remove vanilla bean pieces, stir, and ladle into jars. This recipe yielded almost exactly 5 1-cup jars for me. Either can the jars to store at room temperature or allow the jars to cool then refrigerate.

tangerine marmalade with bits of cardamom seeds and vanilla seeds

I love the vanilla and cardamom flavors in this marmalade. It made a wonderful gift for family over the holidays. Two weeks later, my mom already asked for a refill.

tangerine marmalade with vanilla and cardamom

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvesting Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas deserve their standing as a permaculture favorite. These plants grow fast, last for years, fix nitrogen, can be used as a "green manure" to feed other plants, can be grown as a hedge to block pigs' access, plus the peas are delicious. The pea can be used fresh, like other shelled peas or edamame soy beans, or allowed to dry on the plant to be used as a bean. Here in the windward tropics, using them fresh is much easier.

a beautiful day for harvesting pigeon peas
Our plants had two harvests this year, on in May and one in October. It takes a while to pick and shuck the peas, but it is easy, pleasant work with great reward.

pigeon peas on the plant

The pods are ready to pick when they reach full size. I like to gently squeeze the pods to see if the peas are filling out the bulges in the shell. Sometimes a pod can look ready, but the peas inside are still small.

shucking pigeon peas

I rinse the pods and leave them an hour or so to dry a bit. To shuck the peas, pry the two haves of the pod apart - it gives easily. Each pea needs to be freed from the pod.

quinoa salad with pigeon peas

I used these pigeon peas to make a simple salad with quinoa, carrot, olive, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. The peas a lightly steamed. In the past, we've used them in soup, stir fry, and on salads. Yum!

The internet is full of great pigeon pea resources and recipes. Here are a few of my faves:

basic information from
nutrition information from
pigeon pea recipes from