The first time I heard of mountain apples was when I started dating my husband. That was over thirty years ago. His family had a huge mountain apple tree on their property in Kahaluu on Oahu. These unique fruit are in the myrtle family, which is related to guava. They are native to Malaysia and Australia and are often called Malay apples, rose apple and Otaheite apple. They have a similar look to apples, but are different in texture and taste. They are much softer and the skin is fragile and will bruise easily. To me, they taste similar to a pear, and when ripe are super juicy.
We grow two varieties on our property – a red and white. I’ve written a little bit about them before. The white takes on a pinkish tinge when they are ripe. The fruit tends to ripen all the same time, so you tend to give a lot away because one tends to end up with way too many to eat at one time. Because the skin is fragile and can bruise easily they are not typically sold in local supermarkets. You will find them at farmer’s markets or if you’re lucky your neighbor who grows them may bring over a bunch to share.
The Hawaiian name for mountain apple is ohia’ai and their flower looks very similar to the Ohi’a blossom. The white mountain apple has a white flower and the red one has a hot pink flower.
Start of red mountain apple.
White mountain apple. They still have quite a bit of growing to do, and will be white with a pinkish tinge when they are ripe.
We have two seasons of these apples on our property. We had some in September, and now they are fruiting again, so we’ll have some by April. Because they tend to ripen all at one time, this is especially nice because the season is relatively short. They are a nice addition to a Hawaiian garden. They’re a beautiful tree when flowering, and it’s a fairly prolific bearer of fruit. The only issue we’ve ever had is with the Chinese rose beetle. One of our trees has never grown very large or fruited because these beetles. The other two trees were not bothered by the beetles at all.
We eat them as is. You can make a jam out, and some people pickle them. Pickled mountain apple has been compared in taste to a pickled mango. When these get ripe, I may just have to make that.
Mountain apples were a canoe plant brought over by the Polynesians. The wood was used for building things, and the bark was used medicinally to ease sore throats. The fruit was also used by Hawaiians to make dye for their tapa.Follow my blog