Sunday, November 4, 2012

Subtropical Mountain Apples



Mountain apples are not true apples, anymore than pineapples are true apples. They don’t taste like apples either; they are somehow fragrant, a little like a flower, and the texture is kind of starchy and fibrous, like a soft jicama or an Asian pear that’s spongy. The taste is mildly sweet, but not overpowering. Seeing them reminds me of childhood trips to Sacred Falls on Oahu, where I used to find them along the hiking path. Sadly, Sacred Falls is now closed because of a disastrous rock slide a number of years ago.

A bowl full of mountain apples. They are quite a bit smaller than regular apples, more like the size of crab apples. 

I’ve seen mountain apples recently only twice, once at Mana Foods, where I bought these specimens recently and also today at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Farmers Market. I haven’t hiked nearly as much on Maui as on Oahu, so there are lots of places on my bucket list to explore, places where I suspect mountain apples grow freely. And maybe mountain apples are seasonal too, like lilikoi or mangoes.

A cross section of a mountain apple without a seed. 

The strange thing about the mountain apples I bought were that there was no big seed inside. So, I suspect the ones I got were somehow hybridized, because there’s no way they can reproduce. The mountain apples from childhood were always refreshing after a long hike on a hot day and the round black seed would get firmly munched around and then tossed along the hiking path to grow into another tree. 

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