It's Wilelaiki Season!
The brilliant red berries of the Wilelaiki tree are starting to pop up all around the island ; one of the rare signs in Hawaii that winter is on it's way. This weedy invasive tree needs more understanding and attention. Not only does it make for an incredible honey collected by foodies and honey connoisseurs but it also contains the highest amount of antioxidants, which protect your cells.
The tree originates from South America and is also known as the Brazilian Peppertree. It was brought into Hawaii as a decorative plant but quickly spread all over the island. Honeybees love it, but it is considered a pest by ranchers. It is often called Christmasberry due to its beautiful red peppercorns that mature in the winter time. In Hawaii , it was named after the well known Big Island paniolo (cowboy) William Rice. He apparently , always wore a hat festooned with the lei of the berries. Hence, the locals started calling the tree Wilelaiki. Its scientific name is Schinus terebinthifolia.
This plant has been valued by traditional healers of the Amazon for hundreds of years. All parts of the plant are used medicinally. The red berries contain an extract with the ability to debilitate dangerous antibiotic resistant staph bacteria. The traditional healers would use the extract to treat infections of the skin and soft tissue. Modern researchers of medical ethnobotany at the Emory School of Medicine found the extract to disarm MRSA bacteria. The body's own immune system can then stand a better chance of healing a wound. This is a potential life saving discovery as antibiotic resistant infections are a growing international problem.
There are also a myriad of other traditional uses and benefits of the much maligned Wilelaiki tree. Throughout the tropics , it has been used as a remedy for many maladies including gout, eye infection, tuberculosis, rheumatism, ulcers and wounds. In Brazil today, the dried bark and leaves are employed for heart problems and general inflammation.
Although I do not recommend making your own concoctions of medicine from the Wielaliki tree, the honey made from the plant is quite safe as well as delicious! We know that raw honey is a very useful, easy remedy for coughs and sore throats and I suspect Wilelaiki honey is even more effectual. So stock up your cupboards and medicine cabinets with the 2020 Wilelaiki honey harvest! Get ready for a home Halloween party with these easy to make , healthy and yummy honey gummy bears for the Trick or Treaters in your home. Hint: these would also make great throat lozenges!
Halloween Honey Gummies
- 1/2 cup fruit juice ( grape, berry, pineapple or mango work well)
- 2-3 Tablespoons Organic Wilelaiki blossom honey
- 2 packets Knox unflavored gelatin
- Silicone gummy bear mold with dropper ( or 8x8 silicone pan)
- Whisk together juice and honey in a saucepan.
- Wile stirring sprinkle gelatin in, one packet at a time.
- Bring mixture to low-medium heat and stir constantly.
- Do NOT bring the mixture to a boil.
- Keep stirring until gelatin is dissolved and mixture sticks to spatula.
- Remove from heat
- Using the dropper, drip mixture into silicone bear molds.
- In place of silicone mold, you can pour the mixture into a 8x 8 silicone pan.
- Place in refrigerator to set ( 15 to 20 minutes)
- Remove from silicone mold and store in the refrigerator. If using the 8 x 8 pan, cut up the gelatin into small squares.