For many people who live in Hawaii or visit our island home, there is no flavor that reminds us of the tropics like lilikoi. On a recent hike, the sight of the green vine reaching out and wrapping its bright green tendrils around anything in its path immediately sets our eyes to searching the twisted vine, like hunting for treasure. We are always stoked when we see that pre-historic-like flower followed by the prize of its globed, eggshaped fruit.
Recently, we started debating the old question jelly vs. jam. You all know this difference, right? Jam is made with bits of fruit but jelly is made with juice of the fruit. This sparked the debate…can lilikoi be made into a jam when it has no fruit bits? We also talked story about lilikoi curd, lilikoi butters but decided to stick just with lilikoi jelly.
We shopped on the internet for as many Hawaii-based lilikoi jellies as possible and purchased 11 different brands from across all the six islands. Our on-line shopping experience was epic and more on that in our blog. We covered all the labels and invited opinionated tasters with trained paletes to sit at our table, taste test, and describe each jelly. We asked the talented private chef, Jana McMahon of www.chefjana.com to hold court and guide our tasters through a flavor journey as winding and whimsical as the lilikoi vine itself. Jana served green tea and white Japanese toast to cleanse our paletes between all jelly tastings.
Special thanks to our lilikoi tasters: Daryl Fujiwara Dabney Gough Rosanna Ha Robert Ramshur