Categorized | Agriculture

Sample bilimbi at ultra-exotic fruit event (Aug. 25)

Bilimbi Soup (Photo courtesy of HTFG)


Bilimbi is the star at a free, ultra-exotic fruit tasting and culinary demonstration 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25 at Choice Mart in Captain Cook.

Chef Paul Heerlein, assistant professor and coordinator of the Culinary Arts Program at Hawaii Community College-West Hawaii, will demonstrate how to prepare Hot Sour Bilimbi Soup. (Recipe follows release).

The fruity fun is presented by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG), whose members are growing bilimbi and other ultra-exotic tropical fruits.

These not-so-well-known edibles —like Surinam cherry, jackfruit, ulu, abiu, durian, white sapote, soursop, tropical apricot and jaboticaba — are among a growing number of odd fruits that are intriguing island chefs and shoppers.

Believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, bilimbi is cultivated in tropical regions worldwide and bears several names. The fruit resembles small cucumbers and the English call it the “pickle tree.” The outer skin is thin and glossy and the green flesh is jelly-like and juicy.

Bilimbi has a sour taste, due to its high acid content and is used raw to make relishes. The juice makes a drink similar to lemonade. Bilimbi is also preserved and employed to concoct chutney or an acid jelly. Half-ripe fruits are salted and pickled.

In Hawaii, chefs substitute bilimbi juice for vinegar to make salad dressings and it appears in soup stocks and in stews. Nutritionally, it contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene and niacin.

HTFG is working to build markets for these juicy rarities via free public taste tests and culinary demonstrations at stores on four Hawaiian Islands throughout 2012.

Titled “New Markets for Ultra-Exotic Fruits,” the event series is funded by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture through a USDA competitive grant program to foster small farm sustainability.

“Besides offering unique flavors, shapes and colors, these ultra-exotic fruits bring novelty to the table and can delight the senses,” said Ken Love, president of HTFG.

A total of eight educational demonstrations are planned and participating stores will stock the fruit in their produce sections, accompanied by recipes and additional fruit information to take home.

For more information, contact Love at or 969-7926.

Incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii, HTFG is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion

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Hot Sour Bilimbi Soup with Hamakua Mushrooms

By Chef Paul Heerlein
Yield: 5 servings
Portion size: 5 oz.


4 oz Hamakua Mushrooms Pioppini, Alii or your favorite mushroom, diced
1 piece shallot finely minced
1 clove of garlic thinly sliced
½ tsp. 6-Pepper salt
25 oz Organic Chicken Broth
2 oz Bilimbi Juice
1 TB Yamasa or Kikkoman soy sauce
1 tsp. Sesame oil
1 egg whipped with 1 tablespoon of water

PROCEDURE: In a pot sauté the mushrooms with a little vegetable oil for about 4 minute while stirring. Add the shallots and garlic and continue to cook over moderate heat for another 1 minute. Add the 6-Pepper, broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and add the bilimbi, soy and sesame oil. Stir in the egg and adjust the seasoning to taste, if needed.

One Response to “Sample bilimbi at ultra-exotic fruit event (Aug. 25)”

  1. Pua says:

    YES, looking forward to attending this culinary delight!


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