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Tasty Garden Goodness – The Thing about Hawaii – Bringing Home the Sweetest Potato By Candy Webb

I recently had the opportunity to travel to one of the Hawaiian Islands. I was entranced by the beaches as much as the sunsets, and yes, I want to live there. I mean, come on, Hawaii has never-ending clear skies, oceans with seven hues of blue, friendly people who purposefully walk around saying Aloha, which is a state of mind and an actual aura, not just the word for hello. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live there?

Hawaii is a magical place, and one might guess that what I loved the most was the food. Okay, I did love the food, but that guess is only half correct. The thing is that Hawaii holds so many different colors of luxurious, tropical, enchanting green there aren’t enough words to describe the richness of the beauty found there. Everything, from the trees to the grasses, including the fruits, vegetables, and flowers, is extra colorful, vibrant, and lush.

The pineapple is sweeter and juicier than the ones found on the mainland and grown year-round, as are many other healthy treats. Unlike average fruits, bananas, coconuts, papaya, guava, and mango come in different varieties there. For instance, there are more than 60 different types of mangos growing on the islands and one type of guava that actually tastes like a strawberry. Avocados are easily four times the size of our largest continental variety. I was in heaven!

The only bad news is that newly found gems like mountain apples, breadfruit, Surinam cherries, taro leaf, taro root, and Kula onions are hard to find on the mainland and impossible to bring back in your suitcase due to USDA restrictions. Most commercially canned and ‘processed’ fruits and veggies are allowed into the states, and some fresh food can pass through the strict inspection process but must be ‘treated’ before being transported home. What are ‘processed’ and ‘treated’ again? I’m pretty sure we don’t want them.

Sound the horn, though. I did take the time to find one gem we can grow at home plentifully even if we don’t live in the tropical growing zones 9-11. A simple web search will bring you ‘Ube,’ also known as Purple Yam or Hawaiian Sweet Potato. This white tuber has a bright purple flesh inside, is sweet, nutty, immensely flavorful, and chocked full of antioxidants and health benefits. Mashed as a side dish, it’s a winner in taste plus a bit of a novelty on the table for guests.

Ready for a potting project? Order and plant a few organic slips (sprouts) as you hibernate this fall and winter. They are inexpensive, can be shipped to your home, are rooted in water or loose soil, and are grown the same as other potatoes indoors or out. They cook a bit longer than the golden sweet potato prepared more typically, but it’s definitely worth the extra time.

A bit of Aloha right here at home to last you until you can visit the islands again. Mahalo for reading. Enjoy!

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