Paul and Jude Huber have been growing Kauai Sugarloaf white pineapple and rambutan on 38-acres in Moloaa since 1995. Growing approximately 60,000 pineapple plants, Hole in the Mountain Farm may be Kauai’s largest pineapple farm.
Kauai sugarloaf white pineapple, rambutan
Biting into a slice of Kauai White Sugarloaf pineapple is like biting into a super juicy piece of soft candy. I guess you could call it the original juicy fruit. Tender flesh, even down to the core and a sweet, low-acid flavor make this rare variety an extra special treat. Some people can’t tolerate acidity in regular pineapple, but have no problem with white pineapple. At Hole in the Mountain Farm, they’re harvested by hand at the peak of ripeness.
“We’re not trying to produce a commodity,” says Jude Huber. “We’re producing an exotic dessert pineapple that’s hand selected from the field.”
There are varying stories as to the origin of white pineapple in Hawaii. The story Paul Huber heard gives plantation workers on Lanai credit. While harvesting in the field, they found a variation of Smooth Cayenne, which was the primary variety being grown across Hawaii. Workers valued the tender flesh, and because of its syrupy–sweet taste, they called it Sugarloaf. Unwanted plants were plucked from the plantation and the natural strain was planted in backyards. Sugarloaf was never mass-produced because the fragile pineapple complicated commercial production. “You drop it once,” says Paul, “and it’s mush.”
Season: It takes two years for pineapple to grow from a tiny slip to a heavy fruit. Naturally, pineapple becomes ripe around mid-June, peaks in mid-July and tapers off in September. At Hole in the Mountain Farm, selective forcing on a weekly basis enables the Hubers to grow pineapple year-round.
What to look for
There are numerous factors to consider when deciding if a Sugarloaf white pineapple is ripe. They include skin color that ranges from burgundy to deep green, and bulging eyes that are yellow at the center. There is a “skirt” over the lower half of each eye, and its color does not determine ripeness. Ripe Sugarloaf may or may not have a noticeable smell.
“At the market, I tell people to know your farmer,” explains Jude. “The pineapple took two years to get there, so I’m not going to sell one that’s not perfect. Plus, there are unscrupulous vendors who buy pineapple at the store and re-sell it at the farmer’s market.”
The clean, delicate taste of white pineapple is best enjoyed right away at room temperature. However, it will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
“Testing a pineapple for ripeness by tugging on a leaf to see if it comes out easily, is a complete and utter myth,” explains Jude. “Sometimes they come out easy, sometimes they don’t.”
I’m pretty sure you’re just going to want to eat Sugarloaf pineapple raw, but the flesh and juice of pineapples are used in cuisines around the world, where pineapples are cooked, juiced, candied, pickled, or preserved. Cubes of fresh pineapple can be used in savory dishes such as stir-fries, salsas, hamburgers and as a pizza topping. Juice may be used in a marinade as a meat tenderizer and flavor enhancer. Crushed pineapple can be used as a yogurt, pastry or ice cream topping. Cooking pineapple intensifies its juicy flavors. Sweet pineapple pairs well with salty preserved ham such as Spain’s jamon or Italy’s prosciutto. They’re fabulous when sliced into rings, sprinkled with a little freshly ground pepper and grilled.
Bromelain is a complex mixture of substances that can be obtained from the stem and core of the pineapple. Among dozens of components known to exist, the best studied are a group of protein-digesting enzymes (called cysteine proteinases). Originally, researchers believed that these enzymes provided the key health benefits found in bromelain. In addition, researchers believed that these benefits were primarily limited to help with digestion in the intestinal tract. However, further studies have shown that bromelain has a wide variety of health benefits, which reduce excessive inflammation, excessive coagulation of the blood, and certain types of tumor growth. Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also a very good source of copper and a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, and pantothenic acid.
Can be found at
Kauai Culinary Market (Wednesdays 3:30 to 6 p.m.), Jude says to come early because she sells out quickly. Grocery: Living Foods Market & Café, Banana Jo’s. If you’d like to send a taste of Kauai to someone, Hole in the Mountain Farm ships to the mainland. For more information, visit KauaiSugarloaf.com.