Harvesting for Makahiki

28 09 2017

The urge to harvest food from the home garden tells me the Hawaiian Makahiki season soon will be upon us. When Makahiki starts, in early November this year, all feuding and all work in the fields end. The harvest is over, we remain friends, and it’s time to call on others and play—for four months!

Today I pulled out 7-1/2 pounds of ‘uala, or sweet potatoes, of various shapes and sizes from the semi-circular patch out front. At the same time I plucked and saved the edible tender sweet potato leaf shoots. I rinsed and dried the greens and reserved them for sandwiches and salads.

‘Uala (Sweet potato)

Adjacent to the ti leaf and panax hedge, the semi-circular bed of sweet potatoes is 85% harvested.

I pluck and use only the growing tip of the vine. Any other part of the vine is too tough and not as tasty, in my opinion.

I rinsed greens carefully under running water for some tasty crunch in a cheese sandwich.

I also gathered kou tree blossoms that fell from above to make a saffron- or ochre-colored dye bath.

Tubular flowers from a kou tree

What now? I prepared candied sweet potatoes and an uala leaf and tofu salad for dinner, and I reserved the kou flowers for later when I can organize a day of fabric dyeing and decorating with my artsy friends.

I roasted sweet potato chunks in the oven and baked them a second time with butter, a little salt, brown sugar, and rum to make them taste like Thanksgiving candied yams!

For this tofu salad, blanching the leaves and a vinaigrette dressing has darken the leaf color.

How about a Makahiki party soon to enjoy the bounty? There are lots more sweet potatoes!

“Lono i ka Makahiki!”

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