HONOLULU (KHON2) — At the gateway to thousands of plants on nearly 200 acres that is the University of Hawaii’s Lyon Arboretum — a kitchen with volunteer cooks, the “Jams and Jellies Group” churning out the chutney.
The group formed about 40 years ago, now kept alive by its latest crop, a handful of ladies.
“The lady I took over for is in a care home now and she said, ‘Ann, you have to take this on because I’m 93-years-old and I can’t keep doing this,” said Jam and Jellies Group Volunteer Ann Kadowaki.
And a gentleman — all who grew up standing over pots just like this, making jams and jellies with grandma.
“My grandmother used to cook a huge pot on a gas stove and my job was to wait for the bubbles to reach the top of the pot. I’d have to call for her so she could stir it down but you know sometimes it wouldn’t be quite to the top and she’d go not ready yet and so.”
With ingredients like raisins, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and a lot more, it’s a lot like grandma made.
“It’s the arboretum recipe that we tweaked a little bit,” she said. “The mango chutney mangoes came from my tree. so we try to get stuff from people’s yards.”
“And we’re trying to use fruits from the arboretum so we can say on the jar from the arboretum because we have weird trees here,” said Kadowski. “One of the girls from grounds harvested some bilimbi, which is this weird really tart fruit. And so we don’t even know what it is so I had to like Youtube it.”
Ann says guava jelly is the most common because there’s just so much, and you’ll find it in the Lyon Arboretum store for just $3, lilikoi is popular too.
“More recently we started experimenting you know just to make it more exciting for us. last year we made cranberry chutney for the holidays.”
The mango chutney is $9 for a nine-ounce jar. All chutneys are a bit more expensive because there are more ingredients and it’s more labor-intensive, but it’s fun work.
“Yes fun, and we enjoy being productive and we enjoy seeing how many we made and all that kind of stuff.”
And it seems, they can never make enough, as consumers can never get enough.
“We thought we had a surplus, we thought we had a stock but maybe a month later you come in and it’s wiped out so we could never keep up so we’re hoping we’ll catch up one day,” said Kadowaki.
The Lyon Arboretum is open to the public Monday through Saturday.