My Favorite Hawaiian Fruits + Durian Ice Cream

My Favorite Hawaiian Fruits + Durian Ice Cream

The world of fruit is so vast, so insane, so unbelievable {do yourself a favor and watch Fruit Hunters!} There are hundreds of fruits out there that we are never, ever exposed to in our traditional grocery stores and markets. Which in my opinion is a good thing. I wouldn't want to have access to so many tropical fruits when living in the Midwest because it isn't sustainable for the planet. Plus, it gives you something to look forward to while traveling! 

So even though I am loving apples & looking forward to berry season here in the Midwest, it doesn't mean I can't share my love of all the fruits Hawaii and tropical places offer. These fruits that are down right amazing & a must try if you ever find yourself in the tropics! This list does not by any means cover all the fruits. There are just so many but these are my top nine. Enjoy! 

Apple Bananas. These simply changed my relationships with bananas, in the best of ways. I mean, they are a complete game changer and everyone who goes to Hawaii leaves upset they can't get apple bananas on the mainland #hawaiiproblems. They are roughly half the size of the typical cavendish banana that we all know and are slightly less sweet. They are a bit firmer (even when ripe) and have a distinct tartness to them. It is definitely a blessing these are not widely available on the mainland and that they pretty much ruined my love for cavendish bananas. It will  make it that much easier to live off the local fruits in the Midwest. Apples, peaches, pears, and plums will replace my long time staple and I am a-okay with that. 


^^ Apple bananas went with me everywhere. One of the easiest & tastiest snack ever. ^^

Cherimoya. How does one describe a cherimoya. For starters, it's part of the Annonaceae family, which includes fruits with a soft, creamy, custard like sweet fruit that ranges in flavors. According to some cherimoya is a blend of "banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry"... that is kind of hard to comprehend (how can we really imagine all those flavors together at once?) but I'll roll with it. Cherimoya are often referred to as ice cream fruit - and that one I can back with complete confidence. It's honestly so delicious & custardy. Just slice it in half and spoon it right out. #nommmmmnommmnommm


^^ Cherimoya froobs ^^ 

 ^^ some cherimoyas grow to be monsters! this one was huge & shaped like a heart ♥ ^^

Chico {Sapodilla}. This is basically like eating brown sugar in fruit form. It has a soft, slightly granular texture yet juicy fruit that essentially melts in your mouth like I'd imagine a spoonful of brown sugar would. uhhhh. I die. They are generally quite small, ranging from kiwi size to a small orange. Wait until they are soft to get down with these little gems ♥

Durian. The King of Fruits. Literally, people travel the world to eat this DIVINE fruit. & some of these people include my best friends. It's a stinky fruit, housed in a spiky shell. Inside these alien spikes lie the creamy pods of fruit. The flavor profiles vary from fruit to fruit, from pod to pod, from bite to bite. One bite it may be like eating creme brulee, the next like coffee. It's unreal. My first experience of durian was a frozen one my friends Patrick, Rachel {featured in the video linked above ⇑} and I bought in Chicago last winter. Gross! My stomach went into a series of flips & I couldn't handle the taste or the smell. But this past fall I had my first fresh durian and I realized in that moment why people devote their lives to this fruit. It's that good.  

 ^^ Charles picking us out some durian at the Hilo's farmers market ^^

Jackfruit. This fruit led Charles and I on our weekly Sunday trips to Kipahulu (an area just south of Hana) while he lived on Maui with me. The flavor for Juicy Fruit gum was derived from jackfruit but as it should be, nature's version is wayyyyy better than any artificial flavoring could ever attempt. Within the jackfruit world, there are of course a fair amount of varieties and I managed to get my hands on quite a handful over the last year, both on Maui & Big Island. For me the best jackfruit must include the following: big & crunchy pods, be super sweet, & juicy. You know jackfruit is ripe when it has a bit of a give and smells sweet and fruity. Be prepared with a good knife and some coconut oil to clean the blade & hands because you will inevitably become covered in its sticky latex goo. And e v e r y t h i n g that you come in contact with. Jackfruit is certainly an experience, as eating fruit should be :) When jackfruit is overripe, it becomes a delicious frozen treat! Just remove the seeds and pop them in the freezer for mini jackfruit popsicles! 

^^ Jackfruit is the largest of tree borne fruits. The largest one recorded was 80 lbs! ^^

Jamaican Lilikoi. Most people are familiar with the common yellow & purple lilikoi (aka passionfruit) but this variety is less common in my experience. It has a soft skin (as opposed to the hard shell in the common lilikoi) and is filled with a much sweeter fruit than common lilikoi. You eat the inside of the fruit - the seeds and gooey 'fruit' that the seeds are contained in. They are delicious on their own - just bite off the top or cut in half and suck the seeds and goo out - but they also pair beautifully with fresh papaya. And mango. And banana. And any other fruit because they are just too good!

^^ Jamaican lilikoi is the orange one on top. mmmmmm ^^

Mamey Sapote. In 2009 I ate my first mamey sapote while I was farming on Maui at Hale Akua. I wasn't yet into or aware of the complex and magnificent diversity of plants that existed in the world but I do remember my life pretty much changed the day I ate that mamey. I recall where I was sitting, who I was with, allll the details of the moment my mind was blown away. When perfectly ripe the fruit has a similar consistency to a baked sweet potato {in fruit form, whhaatt?!}.  The flavor is a fusion of pumpkin/garnet sweet potato/brown sugar. If you asked me what my favorite fruit of this entire list is, I would say mamey sapote. Hands down. 

Rollinia. This fruit is often said to taste like lemon meringue pie. I agree but I find it is more so a lime flavor. Lemon or lime aside, it is dang good! It's a soft, creamy, juicy fruit just like cherimoya but the rollinia is even more soft & gooey. Like all these other tropical fruits, it is so sweet and the flavor is just ridiculous. Lime meringue pie straight from nature? Yes, please.

While there are SO MANY MORE fruits abundant on the Hawaiian islands, these are my favorite. Of course there are many varieties of the more commonly known fruits like banana (including Cuban red, Williams, Plantain, Lady Finger...)  & papaya (including Solo, Red Lady, Strawberry...). The key to enjoying all these is knowing when they are RIPE, otherwise they will not be at their peak sweetness, texture or flavor! 

And drumroll please....


Many Asian markets sell frozen packets of de-seeded durian pods - perfect for making ice cream! My friend Amelia and I picked up $7 packets at a Honolulu Asian market when we were craving to make this fun treat. Each packet contains one large pod (de-seeded) - plenty to make one batch of ice cream for yourself & 2-3 others to share. Be sure to call around Asian markets in your area and see if they have any in stock...And treat yo' self!


1 frozen durian pod, deseeded

1 tbsp raw cacao or carob powder

1/2 tsp mint extract

1-2 tbsp cacao nibs

*small touch of water if needed


Chop durian into smaller chunks. Place in blender & blend until smooth.

Add in powder & mint extract. Blend until fully   incorporated.

Scoop into a bowl & top with cacao nibs