Business

How Do You ‘Ulu?

March 2, 2021, 2:46 PM HST
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The Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative (HUC) plans to use recently awarded grant funding and community partnerships to create engagement and educational opportunities for Hawai‘i and beyond.

The co-op has successfully executed multiple initiatives that include releasing new products, supporting families affected by COVID-19,  and curating chef-inspired food boxes that encourage families to cook with ‘ulu (breadfruit) and other indigenous starches. 

Breadfruit. Big Island Now stock photo

Recently, the co-op released two new products: ʻulu flour and ʻulu chocolate mousse. With support from the Atherton Family Foundation, HUC ⚊ along with its partners Hawai‘i Farmers Union Foundation and Voyaging Foods ⚊ converted approximately 8,000 pounds of fresh ‘ulu into 2,400 pounds of gluten-free, Hawai’i-grown and milled flour. This partnership prompted the 30% x ‘30 Initiative, which promotes increasing the state’s production of local staples to 30 percent of what the state consumes by 2030.

A portion of ‘ulu flour sales will be used to support this initiative by investing in ongoing consumer education about how and why it is important to eat local. indigenous starches such as ‘ulu and kalo. Over the next few years, HUC plans to continue scaling its flour production to offer a shelf-stable outlet for the increasing volume of fruit being produced by its 100-plus family farmers.

‘Ulu flour, now available statewide, offers a variety of uses including thickening, coating, and baking. The flour also provides significant nutritional benefits including three times the dietary fiber of conventional all-purpose flour and is an alternative for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

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The second product now available statewide is ‘ulu chocolate mousse, a dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate dessert sold in three ounce single-serving cups. The logo is designed by Native Hawaiian artist Haley Kailiehu. A portion of sales from this product support Kailiehu’s nonprofit, Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili, a community organization in Paʻauilo, Hawai‘i that works to re-establish the systems that sustain Hawaiʻi Island communities. ʻUlu Mousse is made with just four ingredients: ripe ‘ulu, coconut milk, raw hawaiian honey, and 72 percent organic fair trade chocolate. To view a list of stores carrying these products, customers can visit the product locator on the HUC website.

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In late 2020, HUC received a grant from O‘ahu Resource Conservation & Development Council (O‘ahu RC&D), which allowed the co-op and its partner Chef Hui to launch a chef-curated food box initiative in January 2021 to bring a taste of Hawaiʻi’s best local farm products to food enthusiasts across the country.

Breadfruit “Ulu” Home Fries with onions, peppers and arugula. Photo credit: Kristin Frost Albrecht.

The boxes include recipes and access to cooking demos hosted by ‘Ulu Ambassadors along with high quality ingredients provided by HUC and other local farm enterprises, encouraging recipients to discover the abundance that Hawaiʻi agriculture has to offer and to learn new ways of preparing local products. The first food box, Pahu ʻAina Awakea (“Lunch Box”) curated by native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and chef Kealoha Domingo of Nui Kealoha Catering, successfully sold out at 155 units. The kit included bakers ripe ‘ulu, recipe-ready kalo, corned beef, and Hawaiʻi-grown bean to bar chocolate, and was accompanied by a virtual cooking demonstration, sponsored in partnership with the Hawai‘i Culture Based Education for All Conference on Feb. 12. 

The second food box, Pahu ʻAi Palaoa  (“‘Ulu Flour Box”), was released on Feb. 25 and features upcoming local chef, Chris Kamalu Fujimoto, who showcases three diverse ways of using ʻulu flour. The box includes one pound of ‘ulu flour, two pounds of Punachicks free range chicken, and one pound of diced Hawaiʻi-grown white pineapple. Boxes are available for purchase online now through March 21, 2021. A third chef-curated food box will be released in April featuring Magics’ chef, Dan Robayo.

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In another effort to promote the use and education of local agriculture, HUC and Chef Hui are launching an ʻulu recipe contest in the month of March that will run through the end of the month. Culinary enthusiasts and professional cooks alike are encouraged to submit a recipe using ‘ulu for a chance to win placement on HUC’s website and a $100 gift card to XO Restaurant on O‘ahu. Recipes will be judged on appearance, creativity, clarity and replicability by XO Restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine Harrison Ines and HUC Board Member and local ʻulu farmer Andrew Trump from Island Harvest. More details are available on HUC’s website.

Amidst the execution of these and other creative projects, HUC has also provided over 60,000 pounds of minimally-processed local starches to families in need across the state. An additional 3,170 pounds was also donated through the HUC website to the Hawaiʻi Food Basket through the partners’ COVID-19 Relief and Response Campaign since March 2020. HUC’s goal is to strengthen food security in Hawaiʻi by helping to create a more sustainable local food system. The co-op is currently developing more products in order to continue to broaden the horizon of Hawaiʻi agriculture, while providing opportunities for people to be healthy, creative, sustainable and well-fed. 

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