Hala Fruit: Exploring Its Unique Taste and Uses

This tropical fruit holds a unique place among those with unusual shapes

Photo of author

By Alex

Hala Fruit, derived from the Hala plant native to Hawaii, goes by the scientific name Pandanus tectorius and is a common sight across the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia.

The Hala fruit stands apart from all other fruits we know, resembling almost a mineral with its vibrant colors, a geometric marvel of nature. Let’s take a closer look at what it’s all about in this exploration.

Hala Fruit: What is it and where does it come from?

It’s one of the most peculiar tropical fruits, large in size, typical of Southeast Asia, Eastern Australia, the Pacific Islands, and Hawaii. It’s also known as Tahitian screw pine, owing to the distinctive pinecone-like shape of the mature fruit.

The plant belongs to the Pandanus species, a genus of plants in the Pandanaceae family: it can grow up to 15 meters in height and is characterized not only by its fruit but also by its spiky trunk.

In particular, Hawaiians use the tree in various ways; the wood of the tree, which is very sturdy and durable, is used in construction and even in pipelines.

But even the leaves transform into a natural textile fiber useful for various purposes.

hala fruit

Hala Fruit: A truly unique fruit

Lastly, the fruit itself. Truly unique. Both in shape and in its vivid, vibrant colors, as well as its remarkable size. Imagine that a Hala Fruit “pinecone” can reach over 25 centimeters in length: inside, hundreds of fractals (or phalanges, or segments) represent the edible part, the most colorful and geometrically shaped, leaving everyone speechless.

Its taste is very distinctive: in our opinion it’s somewhat reminiscent of pumpkin, with a hint of papaya, but opinions may differ on this topic. The inner part of each segment is what’s edible, while the outer part is tough and fibrous. It’s eaten by holding it from the outer part and chewing the segment from the inside until the pulp comes out.

In Asia, it’s eaten fresh, boiled, and often used as an ingredient in dessert preparation.

In Hawaii, it’s even used as a pigment for painting.

How does Hala Fruit taste like?

The Hala fruit offers a gentle and sweet tropical taste. It is often compared to a blend of mango and pineapple, with a hint of sweetness reminiscent of sugar cane juice. Its flavor has also been likened to the richness of ripe jackfruit. As we hinted before, we found it somewhat reminiscent of pumpkin, with a hint of papaya.

hala fruit

Recipes with Hala Fruit

Here are three delicious recipes featuring Hala Fruit:

Hala Fruit Salad with Coconut and Lime Dressing

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 2 Hala fruits, peeled and segmented
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine the Hala fruit segments, pineapple chunks, strawberries, and shredded coconut.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and honey to make the dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the fruit salad and toss gently to coat.
  • Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh mint leaves before serving.

Grilled Hala Fruit Skewers

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 2 Hala fruits, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Instructions:

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • Thread the Hala fruit chunks onto the wooden skewers.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, melted butter, and ground cinnamon.
  • Brush the honey mixture over the Hala fruit skewers.
  • Place the skewers on the preheated grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the fruit is slightly caramelized and tender.
  • Remove the skewers from the grill and serve hot.

Hala Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients /for 2 people):

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 Hala fruit, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Toppings: sliced kiwi, granola, shredded coconut, chia seeds

Instructions:

  1. In a blender, combine the frozen bananas, chopped Hala, frozen mango chunks, and coconut milk.
  2. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour the smoothie into bowls.
  4. Top with sliced kiwi, granola, shredded coconut, and chia seeds.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

These recipes showcase the unique flavor and versatility of Hala fruit, adding a tropical twist to your meals and snacks.

Where to Buy Hala Fruit?

These fruits are seldom exported, though occasionally they make their way to other regions, such as Europe, serving as a novelty item. You might also stumble upon them in several online stores.

However, it’s worth noting that their price is often quite high compared to locally available seasonal fruits.

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