Learn about the "Crowned Fruit": An Authentic Plantation Experience
By Alain Gayot
Known as the "King of Fruits" through its crown of leaves, the pineapple is also renowned as the ultimate tropical fruit, holding both fantastic flavor and historical significance. The yellow meat of the pineapple is prized for its sweetness mixed with tart undertones. It is the quintessential tropic treat. Countless recipes use it as an important ingredient— in relishes, sorbets, kabobs or salads. And it holds a place of importance in history as well. Among native Caribbean tribes, the fruit was hung outside the entrances of dwelling as a symbol of hospitality and friendship. In England and Spain, the motif was used in carvings and as a decorative design.
The pineapple has been big business since its first harvest hundreds of years ago, and a century-old Maui-based company is working hard to make sure the tradition and heritage of the succulent fruit are not compromised. Established in 1903, Maui Pineapple Company, a subsidiary of Maui Land and Pineapple Company, Inc., is the only remaining pineapple operation that has stayed on the island—Dole and Del Monte have since gone elsewhere. The corporation owns approximately 25,000 acres on Maui, of which 6,000 was used exclusively for pineapple cultivation. In 2007 owner Maui Land & Pine shut down operation and in 2010, a few of the former employees, along with Ulupalakua Ranch owner C. Pardee Erdman, formed the Hali‘imaile Pineapple Company. They leased more than 1,500 acres of Maui Land & Pine’s fields in upcountry Hali‘imaile and their company, Maui Gold Pineapple Company (MGP) exclusively grows the eponymous hybrid fruit.
The sun-filled days, breezy nights and fertile volcanic soil have allowed the company to create a signature fruit, the Maui Gold. The hybrid thrives in the designated environment and has been very successful. The Gold is sweeter than most other pineapples (namely Champaka) and is less acidic. Since MGP values delivering a fresh product, anyone in the U.S. can order Maui Gold pineapple online and it will be sent by FedEx within 24 hours of being picked. For a unique tropical gift, the pineapple can also be shipped in a variety of decorative boxes.
Priding itself on offering quality fruit and managing holistic communities that aim to build a sustainable future for Maui, MGP draws its values from three traditional Hawaiian concepts: Ho’ohanohano, Po’okela and Malama’aina. The concepts call for MGP to see itself as a member of Maui’s community, bring the best services to the marketplace and maintain agricultural accountability.
On your next trip to Maui, we highly recommend taking a plantation tour at Maui Pineapple Company. There is no better place to learn about the cultivation of the revered fruit.
This uniquely Maui experience offers two kinds of tours: the pineapple tour and the regular tour plus a distillery tour. On the 1 1/2-hour Pineapple Tour in Hali’imaile farm visitors will learn about the growing cycle of pineapples and cultivation techniques-tasting the pineapple at each stage- plus each guest will receive a free pineapple. The sun-filled days, breezy nights and fertile volcanic soil have allowed Maui Pineapple Company to create a signature fruit, the Maui Gold. The hybrid thrives in the designated environment and has been very successful.
The Pineapple and distillery tour includes a tour of the Hali’imaile Distilling Company, located in the heart of Maui's pineapple region. Their drinks include: the Pau Maui vodka, the only vodka in the world to be made from pineapples, Paniolo Blended Whiskey, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum and Maui Moon Flavored Vodkas made with pineapple, orange, guava, chocolate and macadamia nut. The 30-minute tour includes three tastings per person (there will be more than 10 spirits to choose from) and a complimentary shot glass.
The tours are open to people of all ages though no one under 21 is allowed to partake in the tastings or receive a shot glass during the distillery tour.