Lilikoi is the Hawaiian name for passionfruit. It has a pretty tarty taste right out the gate, but with some sugar and butter, it is just heavenly! I had never seen it "in the wild" before until last year when walking up a hill in my neighborhood with my sister-in-law. One of the things I love about Hawai'i is that if fruit is on the public side of a fence or street, it's fair game! We'd discovered a lilikoi vine on a fence outside the public water municipal property. We kept our eye on it, waiting for the time when the fruit would be ripe.
In Hawai'i, the yellow variety is most prevalent (the fruit turns from green to yellow). A beautiful flower sprouts up on the vine, and the lilikoi fruit comes out of the flower! How cool is that?!
(not ripe when it's green and hard)
It's kind of weird, you have to wait until the fruit gets wrinkly and looks like it's going bad before it gets ripe. When I had my fruit ripening on the counter also, it made my whole kitchen smell like stinky feet. Not desirable but I was willing to wait it out to get that delicious fruit! You can eat lilikoi just by cracking open the peel and sucking out the juice/seeds. The seeds are surrounded with delicious fruit pockets and are okay to eat, although I prefer to spit the seeds out.
I'm currently growing my own vine in the small strip of dirt we've got on our lanai. I got this tiny, 6-inch clipping from my husband's cousin in December, transplanted it in April, and it has just now started to take off!
I've heard they grow pretty fast, and I thought it would just magically grab onto the fence and climb but it needed some help. I picked up this bamboo trellis and I'm hoping to train it to go all over the place. So far, it's grabbed onto three different places.
I'm hoping that next year, I'll be harvesting my very own lilikoi! The concentrate from Perfect Purée out of Napa Valley is pretty pricey (which can be found at Foodland Farms market in Aina Hina), so being able to make my own fresh from the fruit is practical and worth it. I also like knowing exactly what is in my food. No preservatives or too much sugar here!
I found this recipe for lilikoi butter and decided to give it a whirl! I used about seven fruits and got 2 mason jars full of lilikoi butter. I picked up the lilikoi at this amazing little local market called Waialua Fresh on the North Shore of O'ahu. It's a drive (45 mins from Town), but it's so worth it! It can be used on ice cream, toast, or you could modify the recipe and make it into a thick curd for tarts, pie, etc! (just add more egg yolks or some cornstarch, your choice!)
(adapted from LavaLily)
1 cup fresh lilikoi juice
8 oz unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
In a saucepan, bring to a boil the lilikoi juice, butter and sugar. Temper this hot mixture into the eggs, then add all back to the pan and return to a boil, whisking constantly. The original recipe recommended cooking for another 1/2 hour at a simmer, but I just stopped after it came to a boil. You can strain the liquid if you like before you pour it into some sterilized jars. Cap those suckers and turn them over to seal the jars. Refrigerate after opening.