Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hog Plums

Yeah! It is that time of year! The hog plums, most commonly known as "hobos" (the "H" is silent) are ripe and dropping to the ground.

This little fruit has a unique taste which may be described as a cross between peach, orange and a red plum, but I'm not an expert when it comes to sorting out flavors. It is something I look forward to every year. Around August/September the fruit ripens and falls from the tree. The plums are about 1" to 2"in circumference and bright orange-yellow in color. The first time I drank the juice on the island, I was bowled over. So now, every year, I anxiously wait for our 7 hog plum trees to start dropping fruit. I was informed too that this fruit is exclusive to the island as no one on the mainland had seemed to hear of it. Yet, again, maybe they call it something else.

The trees are really tall, so picking the fruit is out of the question. As you can see, in the photo above, the hobo tree, the one in the middle, is quite tall. The branches are at least 30-40 feet from the ground. Of course, one or two of my trees are not full grown but picking this fruit is not my choice, as the ground will become covered with them in a short period of time. Below is a photo of the beginning of the dropping of the fruit, with a few plums on the ground.

Of course, as in all fruit on the island, it is mostly seed and it takes a lot of these little suckers to make enough for a half-gallon of liquid sunshine! My worker will bring me sacks of these fruit for me to wash and then squeeze.

The women of the island put them in a huge bucket or pan with water and then squeeze them with their hands, which becomes very time intensive and laborious. I have two ways of doing it. One, I can put them in a "V" shaped colander and then smash them with a wooden mallet that is specifically shaped for the colander. Or, two, I can place it in the top of my huge kettle that has a special insert for steaming the fruit and collecting the juice in the bottom. Depending upon how many hog plums I have in a day will determine which method I choose.

Of course, then my day is devoted to juicing the plums. Once I have obtained the juice, it is just a matter of placing it in Zip Loc bags for freezing. I once made jelly with the juice, but since we don't consume a lot of jelly at our house, I do not do that anymore. I still make a jar or two and like to make it up like a hot pepper jelly to use with cream cheese on crackers. Yummm!

One year I decided to sell the juice already prepared and packed in Zip Loc bags. Everyone was very enthusiastic about wanting some; not so enthusiastic about paying for it! The second year there were less buyers and I decided it was not worth my time and trouble to try selling it on the Cay, even though people still ask about it. They figure if it grows free here, why should they pay for it even though someone has done all the work for them!

If you ever get to Guanaja this time of year, remember to get some Hobo Juice, a/k/a Hog Plum Juice. Or, stop by my house and enjoy a ice cold glass of a taste you won't forget!


  1. Sharon,nice blogs. I forwarded the wedding one to Abi and Andrew Cooper he likes to hear about the island.

    As for the hogplum juice I gladly buy some from you what ever the price also the jelly it sounds wonderful and now that I have found Brie on the coast I have been thinking about the cheese topped with the jelly and melted in the oven.MMMMMM

  2. Will be on island tomorrow afternoon for nearly a week. We'll have to taste some!

  3. Hello

    Hog plums used to grow wild in south Florida. We used to eat them when I was little. The last time I found some I was on vacation in Jamaica. I have never had the juice but I am sure it is delicious. I am looking fir seeds or a seedling to plant in my back yard in Florida. If you know where I can find one please post the info in your blog.

  4. Anonymous:

    Other than planting the seeds that I throw away, I have no idea where one could obtain them. Hey, got an idea! Come on down to Guanaja in Aug./Sept. and you can have some free juice and as many seeds as you can get back to plant! Of course, make that late Sept. as I'll be in Germany from mid-Aug. to end of Sept.!

    1. I have one of these trees in my back yard. Never knew what is was until recently. Mine turn a bright red color when they ripen.

  5. You may have what you think are hog plums but they do not turn bright red. They stay a yellow/yellow-orange color.

    1. Actually, there are a few varieties of hog plum that bear red fruit. They are also known as red or purple mombin. The two in my yard have reddish purple leaves and dark brown bark. Not only are the fruit a different color, but they are ready for harvest in late April or early May here in zone 7 - before even the first cherries of the season. These taste like rhubarb to me when raw but when simmered in water with a little sugar they make a wonderful tart sauce that I use with meat...similar to a cranberry sauce but much tastier. I am currently trying my hand at a hog-plum apple butter. I have a feeling it will be amazing.

    2. there are yellow and red hog plums there both so good..