A few weeks ago, just as July was coming to an end, the Hawaiian Islands were in the direct pathway of Hurricane Douglas. At Pualani Bee Farm, we prepared for the potential impact of hurricane-force winds and rains in the usual (almost yearly) way: boarding up windows; bringing in potted plants, garden furniture, and all things lightweight and loose, and of course, securing our hives by placing heavy lava rocks on top of the hive covers.
What made this year different from previous years is that our papaya trees, which we had planted about a year ago, were finally beginning to fruit. Though plump, most were not yet ripe. Given the possible threat of 75+ mile an hour winds, I thought to myself, "I will be damned if this hurricane takes our first papaya harvest!" So I grabbed three empty 5-gallon buckets we had laying around the farm and began filling them with not quite ripe papayas. At the time, I had no grand plan as to what to do with the papayas beyond saving them from the storm and maybe making a green papaya salad.
Well, Hawaii Island (and the rest of the chain) lucked out! The hurricane remained just offshore. We saw minimal gusts of wind and some rain showers but nothing worse than an average winter day. Now, what to do with my buckets of green (and in the meantime some yellowing) papayas? Green papaya salad would use up maybe one or two papayas, not the numbers I had in the buckets! So chutney seemed like a more feasible way of using up so many papayas, which I figured would all ripen at the same time if left alone!
I searched online for chutney recipes that sounded delicious and included the kinds of ingredients I already had in my kitchen. My favorite finds included, Sweet and Savory Spiced Papaya Raisin Chutney Recipe featured on The Spruce Eats and a Green Papaya Chutney recipe on Good Food. In my usual chaotic manner, though, I can never actually follow a recipe exactly as written, since I like to improvise and taste along the way, throwing in additional ingredients of what else needs using up or what replacements I can conjure up when I don't have what a recipe calls for. So I ended up fusing these two recipes to which I added my own flair, which of course, included honey!
So here is my version of a Hurricane Inspired, Honey-Infused Papaya Chutney using our Pualani Tropical Wildflower varietal:
5 cups papaya (I used a range of ripening papayas from completely green, to partially yellow, to deep gold) peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
2/3 cups raisins (original recipe called for golden raisins but I only had black raisins)
1 cup honey
3 tablespoons (1 to 2 limes) fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
a pinch of ground anise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Soak papayas and raisins in honey and lime juice overnight.
2 The next day, heat coconut oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium to medium-low heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 additional minute, stirring often.
3. Add cider vinegar, ginger, grated coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, anise, and salt. Stir until well-combined. Bring to a boil.
4. Add honey-infused papaya and raisin mix. Bring to a boil again, then allow it simmer slowly on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and left only with a few inches of liquid at the bottom of the pot. This will take an hour, more or less, depending on how many green versus how many ripe papayas you have in the mix.
5. Allow the thickened chutney to cool slightly and then pour into sterilized and air-tight sealed jars.
[Hurricane Inspired, Honey-Infused Papaya Chutney. Photograph: Pualani Bee Farm.]
Although some chutney recipes note to keep for one month before eating, our household can never wait that long, so I always prepare a jar (or two) for immediate consumption, which we keep in the refrigerator. The above recipe calls for a more "normal" quantity of papayas. With three 5 gallon buckets full of fruit, I created an exponential batch and then shared jars with family, friends, and neighbors. The final result was a sweet and sour chutney that makes the perfect companion with summertime grilled chicken, pork chops, or fish. Partner the chutney with crackers, cheese, and Pualani Comb Honey rounds for a delightful snack. I even tried adding a spoonful of my Hurricane Inspired, Honey-Infused Papaya Chutney to my run-of-the-mill tuna fish sandwich, endowing it with that "je ne sais quoi" quality.
Thank you, Hurricane Douglas!