Is It An Egg? Nope! It’s A Fruit

Wootens’ Produce of Kaua’i farms 20 acres using sustainable techniques such as compost feeding, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, permaculture and crop diversity.

What’s growing: Avocados, arugula, atamoya, bananas, basil, beets, bok choy, breadfruit, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, chard, chicu, cilantro, coconuts, cucumbers, dill, egg fruit, eggplant, fennel, ginger, hot peppers, jackfruit, kale, lemons, limes, longan, radish, rambutan, papayas, parsley, Indian curry leaf, lettuce, mangos, mint, mizuna, mountain apple, soursop, tomatoes, tatsoi, turnips and turmeric.

EGG FRUIT

In Hawaii, Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, canistel is also known as egg fruit, yellow sapote and ti-es. Native to southern Mexico (including Yucatan), Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador, the canistel tree grows to approximately 25 feet.

When ripe, the fruit is soft and the center is silky with a sweet, musky flavor. Unripe egg fruit has a chalky texture and gummy flesh similar to the yolk of a hard-boiled egg.

Season: John says egg fruit trees can produce year-round, but his trees usually bear in early spring, summer and late winter.

What to look for: Choose fruit with golden-yellow skin that’s smooth and glossy and yields to slight pressure. Any green means the fruit is unripe. Overripe fruit is mushy and smells fermented.

Storage: If kept at room temperature, unripe egg fruit will ripen in three to 10 days. Eat ripe egg fruit as soon as possible.

Tip: On the tree, egg fruit split as they ripen. This does not indicate perfection, and John recommends running a finger along the flesh. If it spreads like warm cream cheese, then it’s ready. If not, store lightly covered at room temperature.

Preparation: The pureed flesh can be used in custards, ice cream and milkshakes. Egg fruit nog is made by combining ripe canistel pulp, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg in an electric blender. Other preparations include mock pumpkin pie, pancakes, cupcakes, jam and marmalade.

Health benefits: One hundred grams of egg fruit pulp contains 138 calories, 1.68 grams of protein, 37 grams of carbohydrates and 0.13 grams of fat. Canistels are rich in niacin and beta carotene (provitamin A) and have a fair level of ascorbic acid.

Beta-carotene is one of a group of red, orange and yellow pigments called carotenoids. It’s used to decrease asthma symptoms caused by exercise; to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration, and to treat AIDS, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and skin disorders including psoriasis and vitiligo.

People who sunburn easily, including those with an inherited disease called erythropoietic protoporphyria, use beta-carotene to reduce the risk of sunburn.

Wootens’ Produce of Kaua’i can be found at: Grocery: Vim and Vigor, Papaya’s Natural Foods and Cafe, Hoku Foods Natural Market, Harvest Market. Farmers Market: Kapa’a Wednesdays at 3 p.m.

Restaurants: Kintaro, The Garden Cafe. For ordering information, including weekly custom orders (minimum $10), call 823-6807.

EGG FRUIT BREAD PUDDING WITH FIVE-SPICE COCONUT CARAMEL SAUCE

Viren Olson, pastry chef at Hukilau Lanai in Kapa’a, created this egg fruit bread pudding exclusively for MidWeek Kaua’i readers. “I am so fortunate to have Viren as part of our kitchen team,” says owner Ron Miller. “She has been with us for eight years and is now our full-time pastry chef.” Olson just returned from an eight-day workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute, a world-class pastry school.

Makes six servings.

For Bread Pudding:

* 1 cup ripe egg fruit, scooped out of skin and mashed
* 5 cups bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 3 cups heavy cream or half and half
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast bread cubes on a cookie sheet in an even layer until golden, about eight to 10 minutes. Cool and place in a large bowl. Mix together egg fruit, cream, brown sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla and spices. Pour over bread cubes, tossing to coat. Let sit for half an hour.

Pour mixture into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish, or alternatively, six individual-sized oven-safe ramekins. Bake for 1 hour, or about 30 minutes for ramekins. The pudding is done when it has puffed in the center. Serve warm with five spice coconut caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

For Five Spice Coconut Caramel Sauce:

* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup canned coconut milk
* 1 ounce butter
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice

Place coconut milk and butter in a small saucepan and bring to barely a simmer. Meanwhile, set sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Make sure there is no water present in your saucepan – it could cause the finished product to be grainy. Let sugar melt, shaking the pan occasionally to discourage overbrowning. Don’t walk away from the melting sugar, and also don’t be concerned if sugar starts to look lumpy as it’s melting. Most if not all the lumps should dissolve as the sugar melts further and caramelizes. When sugar has melted and is a deep golden color, remove from heat. Stir in the warm coconut milk and butter mixture. Be very careful, as the coconut milk will cause the sugar to bubble violently, and will be very hot. If necessary, stand back until the bubbling settles down. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes to re-melt any hardened sugar. If any lumps are still present, strain the caramel. Stir in the salt, vanilla, and five-spice. Drizzle over warm egg fruit bread pudding.

Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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