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Today's Farmers Market Haul, Dragon Fruit & Nutmeg

Fresh from my local farmers market today! About 15 years ago I discovered the farmers market at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu and I was in love. Farmer's produce is so fresh and beautiful, I love that my beets look like a bouquet not just a vegetable to eat! Plus they last so much longer then produce I would buy at the market and it is substantially cheaper. These are just a few reason why farmers markets are the bee knees. Another reason is it makes me happy to hand my hard earned dollar straight in to my farmers hand, no middle man. That dollar now stays firmly in my local economy helping stimulate and stabilize local agriculture . Plus it makes my heart happy.

When making syrups, shrubs and other things behind the bar, the final production is always going to be better quality if all of the ingredients are quality. Farmers markets usually have the best stuff around and it’s mostly seasonal insuring freshness and a relevance of the time of year that can translate to your cocktail list. As a matter of fact I love to change my menus with the seasons so I can take full advantage of this. For instance my fall menu is going to have apples and pears, summer mangoes and my spring menu strawberry. My inspiration comes from what I have a available. Once I come up with something I can make extra to freeze or I can come back to it at the same time the following year. At the Pacific Club I created a Manhattan with star fruit and black cherry shrub. It was a challenge to always have enough star fruit shrub on hand out of season so when it was in season it was a big production to prep enough to last. I was lucky enough to have plenty of storage and freezer space there to ensure I wouldn’t run out. Circling back to my breakfast this morning, the dragon fruit are in season now and blooming all over Kona. They have a very mild flavour but they are so visually striking they are amazing in drinks. Try a melon baller to make little circles to drop in your drink or they look like dragon eggs dehydrated, both the white and magenta.

Today's real market score are the funny looking nuts and the delicate looking red petal looking things. These are nutmeg seeds and the covering they grow in. The covering is called mace and is also a spice of a milder flavour. Nutmeg are originally from the Moluccas Islands in Indonesia. These special nutmeg are grown here on Hawaii island and boy do they bring the flavour. Some popular uses are for grating over a drink like holiday Egg Nog, a Dark n Stormy or a tropical Painkiller. I will also use the nutmeg in infusions to add a spicy content. Since these ones are fresh from the tree first I’m going to sun dry them for a few days and then put them in a dry spot to finish for a few weeks. You can tell they are ready when you shake the seed and hear a little rattle.

Note: When crafting using botanicals of any kind it’s very important to make sure there are no conflicting or harmful medicinal properties to anything you may use and so today I learned that other uses for nutmeg include

Sexual stimulation(who knew) 😉

Carminative (a drug that relieves gas or flatulence) 😳

Externally for rheumatoid pain

They can be toxic in large doses as well as cause hallucinations 💀

Nutmeg can also cause an allergic reaction for some people so make sure it’s listed as an ingredient if you use it.

So use sparingly and you should be find but something to be VERY wary of.

What spices grow where you are from? What local flavors can you grab at the market and incorporate in to your cocktails? Remember it’s always more satisfying using unique spices acquired from unusual places over the years rather then store bought in a container! I’ll be adding these to my personal flavour library. My flavour library is something I’m always adding to and pulling from and we will cover it in much more details as we progress through the K. C. A. program and in my next months blog. Until then check out your local markets! It will make your tummy, wallet and heart happy.

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