Hawaiian Escape: Tropical Fruit and Drinks

by Madeline Popelka


If there’s anything I miss about being home on the weekends, it’s definitely the farmers market. I’ve been living in San Francisco for about 14 months now, and have not missed my local produce shopping spree any weekend I’ve been in town. The past few days I’ve been in Hawaii (rough life, huh?) and I missed going to the market with Kendall, but I was still determined to feed my local fruit and veggie obsession.

On Sunday I went to a market located outside of the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. I was VERY pleased with my findings: papaya, starfruit, soursop, mango, guava, local Hawaiian apples, pineapple, baby bananas and more! 

Hawaiian Squash

Hawaiian Squash

Green Chili

Green Chili

Starfruit

Starfruit

Guava

Guava

What’s the first thing I wanted to do after I bought all these beautiful tropical fruits? Make drinks with them! So, I picked up a bottle of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum and got to work.

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One fruit I had not tasted before was the starfruit. It’s this small fruit (about five inches long) that ranges from a light green to bright yellow color. The fruit has five ridges, so when you cut through it, it resembles a star, hence, the name starfruit. Clever.

The whole fruit is edible, so you don’t have to peel it, but you should cut off the brown part along the five ridges. There are also a few small, brown seeds on the inside that you want to avoid. The texture of the starfruit is similar to that of a plum, and the taste is a cross between an apple and green grape, with a mild pineapple flavor. I found that the yellow starfruit are much sweeter than the tart green ones. The starfruit is not only great to snack on, but it works great in salads and cocktails (of course).

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For my Starfruit Crush I muddled half of a starfruit with juice of half of a fresh orange in a rocks glass (using the handle of a spoon—forgot to bring some bar tools with me on vacation).  I then added a couple ounces of Appleton, stirred, and then added a mountain of crushed ice (made by smacking a Ziploc bag full of ice cubes against the granite countertop). That’s it!

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Since I was just a baby, my family has been taking vacations in Hawaii. One of my favorite memories is visiting a fruit stand, getting a fresh coconut, drinking the refreshing coconut milk, and then eating the sweet flesh. Now, every time I go back to Hawaii, I need to get a fresh coconut. 

I was able to get my coconut fix at the Aloha Stadium market. I drank all of the milk at the stand, and the woman who sold it to me cut out all of the coconut meat and stuck it in a Ziploc bag for me to take home.

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My trip to Hawaii would have been incomplete without a Piña Colada (or 2… or 3). For my Classic Piña colada, I threw fresh pineapple in a blender with coconut milk, sugar, fresh coconut meat, a few ounces of Appleton, and ice. Let it blend till it’s smooth, serve, and enjoy!

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I love papaya. Some people are afraid to try it because of its unusual odor—they’re all missing out. This nutrient-rich fruit is juicy, fruity, and has a unique, tropical flavor that always reminds me of the islands. The texture is similar to the mango, and the taste is a cross between a peach and a mango. Papaya is fantastic in smoothies, so I knew my Papaya Colada was going to be great.

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I froze the flesh of one papaya one night. The next day I blended it with fresh coconut, coconut milk, half of a banana, and a few ounces of Appleton. No ice necessary, because I froze the papaya ahead of time. This left me with a smooth, flavorful, undiluted drink, with the consistency similar to that of a milkshake. You gotta give it a try!

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One fruit I had not seen (nor tasted) before was the soursop (this big, green, prickly thing). The one I got was around three pounds, but I heard that they can grow up to fifteen pounds. The flesh is white, with a mango-like texture, and big black seeds (don’t eat these). To me, it tasted like a combination of a sour pineapple and a sweet banana. YUM.

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The soursop would have made a killer daiquiri, but unfortunately, it wasn’t ripe until four hours before my flight back to San Francisco (and I had already finished my bottle of rum!). I’ll be returning to Hawaii in December—maybe I’ll be able to give that a try then.

Pina Colada + Lime Juice + Chili Powder (not spicy)

Pina Colada + Lime Juice + Chili Powder (not spicy)