Keeping lilikoi, cassava & macadamia

SUBHEAD: We have found a satisfactory way of freezing for long term the food of these productive plants.

By Juan Wilson on 1 September 2015 for Island Breath -

Image above: Lilikoi fruit cleaned and ready for cutting, with frozen and fresh juice at right. Photo by Juan Wilson.

One of the things food growers frequently face is too much of a good thing. In the American northeast that can be rhubarb, zucchini or pumpkin. Here in Hawaii it can be avacado, lichi or guava. - an over-abundance -  so much so you cannot even give the harvest away.

Over the years we have not found a solution for year-round avacado, lichi or guava, but we have developed a process for keeping lilikoi, cassava and macadamia in long term storage for year round use. It does require some processing and freezer storage.

Lilikoi Juice
The easiest of the three to prepare are lilikoi (or passionfruit). We have a few vines around the property that we have let grow up on a few non-food producing trees - a monkeypod and plumeria. The lilikoi on the plumeria is right off our side porch and we can watch the ripening fruit and occasionally hear a falling fruit hit the ground or the metal porch roof.

Everyday in season we walk along the ground in front of the porch and pick up six or eight yellow ripe passionfruit. As we gather them we strip off the dried petals left on the stem. We place the fruit on a platter in the shade of the porch where our chickens don't go. Chicken learn to like lilikoi juice too, and we let them get a few on the ground.

 After three or four days, when we have a couple of dozen lilikoi, we take them to the kitchen sink and rinse them off.

We use a serrated knife to cross cut them in half. We use a large spoon to scoop out the "guts" and place them is a strainer over a pot to separate the seeds from the juice. Some stirring helps. A couple of dozen lilikoi will yield about a cup of juice. We have bought several small freezer friendly seal-able containers and use them for storing the passionfruit. This gives passionfruit an almost unlimited shelf-life - as long as the freezer is working anyway.

We always keep a thawed cup of this juice in the refrigerator. We often use it to flavor cold drinks. We have a CO2 tank to carbonate water. We make carbonated drinks with fruits and vegetables. With carbonated lemon, lime drinks a few spoonfuls of lilikoi juice makes a very exotic flavor.

My wife, Linda, has also perfected a lilikoi icing for her gluten-free cake recipe.
“It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.” ― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

I stumbled on the material for a cocktail with what was in the fridge one day - I named it "A Clockwork Orange" - largely due to its neon bright orange color. The recipe is 1) fill a Tom Collins glass with ice. 2) Fill the glass one quarter with vodka, one quarter with carrot juice, one quarter with club soda (or carbonated water) and top it off with lilikoi juice. Stir gently and sip.

Image above: A small cassava root reday for chunking. Most roots we harvest are 6" in diameter or more. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Mashed Cassava

Long term storage of something as awkward and bulky as cassava root is a problem. We have found a process for cassava (or yucca) that works for us. We have about a dozen cassava trees growing around the yard and nearby fields.

Our first efforts with cassava was to make chips. (see Early efforts were to fry them with some oil. Later we baked them with a lot less oil and a more uniform result. These chips are usually consumed quickly in a single session with guacamole or baba ganoush.  Even sealed in a bag the chips do not save well.

Another more useful way for us to use cassava is as a substitute for potato. Both as boiled or mashed as a side dish with meat, vegetables and salad.

We harvest the swollen upper roots from a cassava tree, leaving the smaller deeper roots alone. We prune the tree down by a third or so and save some thick short leafy branch section for planting in new locations.

We soak most of the clingy dirt off the roots in a five-gallon bucket and after scrub them gently with steel wool before skinning them. We trim tips and the branch stub completely off leaving only the white flesh of the root. We then use a large knife to cross-cut the root into large circular chunks.

We then pie cut the chunks into large potato-sized wedges. It is often necessary to pare off some woody central root sections. We put these potato-sized chunks into boiling water. After some time test the consistency with sharp paring knife. It yields through-and-through drain and cool. Place boiled cassava in one quart bags for freezing. We recommend dating the bags.

When thawed for use our favorite recipe is make mashed cassava much like your favorite way of making mashed potatoes. We heat the cassava in water, strain, mash and add plenty of garlic and butter.  The results are delicious and a bit stickier that potato.

Image above: "Dried" macadamia nuts ready for roasting in oven. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Roasted Macadamia Nuts 
We have one mature 30 year-old macadamia nut trees. In peak season (August and September) if drops a couple of dozen nuts a day that we can recover. Many we never find and many are eaten by rats at night. There have been days where we collected over one-hundred nuts. (see

The first season we collected a burlap bag full. We hung the bag on a peg near our kitchen window. After a few weeks we noticed a macadamia nut on the floor. And as time went on we kept finding a few here and there. After a week we realized that there was a hole in the screen to the window. Rats had chewed through a part of the screen hidden by the bag and then chewed through the burlap to get the nuts. The bag was leaking our treasure. We tightened security.

We now peal and roast all our macadamia nuts in batches as they fall. We bag them in on pint freezing bags. Now we have have our own roasted macadamia nuts year-round. Here's our process.

We collect the nuts when the have fallen off the tree and are still in their green outer husk. We place them on a 30" diameter flat bamboo basket spread out so they are not piled on one another. The basket is placed on a table in the sun on our deck during the day and brought back to the covered porch at night to keep them dry.

It should be noted that we now have a cat who is an aggressive rat hunter who sleeps on and patrols our porch. The storage on the porch described above would not work otherwise. 

We keep the new green nuts on one side of the basket and the older brown (to black) nuts on the other side. The new nut husks turn brown and many begin to split. As they split more they turn to black.

Every few days we take about a hundred of the darkest husked nuts from old side and  put them in a bowl for husking. This is the toughest part of the job. The husks harden as they dry. We leave the husks on for three reasons. 1) we think the nuts age better with the husks on. 2) they are difficult to take off even green. 3) you can tell how old the nut is by the husk color.

I use a 10" Vise-Grip brand tool to remove the husk. I adjust it to about two-thirds of a nut diameter and grab the opposite and aligned with the split on the husk. This can often push the nut out of the husk in one motion. Often it take two swipes to free the nut.

Once they are husked I put them on a large platter in the shade. Then in the partially empty basket we roll nuts to the "dark-side" making room for green newbies.

The platter sits and gathers more nuts for about ten days. After that we start a new platter and start roasting the nuts in the old platter. We take about hundred 'aged" nuts at a time and put them in a colander for a quick rinse and inspection. any nuts with a perforation or weird color is tossed.

We but the remaining nuts is an oven pan at 240ยบ for about three hours. There is a wide range of roasting that is possible. The color of the nuts can vary from a light tan to a creamy coffee color to brown, depending on your taste and use. Mostly we like medium well.

About one a week we thaw a bag of nuts and put the sealed bag in a bowl with some wrapped dark chocolates. Having to crack nuts and peel chocolate is a small price to pay for the ensuing bliss.

We highly recommend the mac nut cracker from TJs Nutcrackers from:
Gold Crown Macadamia Association
9582 Del Dios Highway Escondido CA 92029
call tollfree: (800) 344-6887



Anonymous said...

Great article, very useful, thanks so much.
~ Jenny in Wailua

Andy said...

Hi Juan, thanks for putting out all these ideas, here are some that worked for us: for the abundance of lychee this year, Sonja successfully made jam. The best batch had a few raspberries for color and a few drops of rose water to bring out the flavors. Guava needs to strained, then you can dry the mash as fruit leather as I saw in Ecuador, or make jam with sugar. For avocado, we mash them with lime juice and freeze to make proto-guacamole--just thaw and add salt and cilantro and your favorite other ingredients.

Post a Comment