I grew up on classic Caribbean ice creams which were homemade and usually flavored with many of the fruits that grew at the back of our home in Guaracara Trinidad. Coconut, mango, sour soup and barbadine (Giant Granadilla) were the flavors of the day. Unless it was the odd time mom would bring home Flavorite (brand) from the grocery store, where we'd get a taste of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and the odd time .. rum and raisin. After having a superb pina colada in old San Juan (Puerto Rico) a few years ago, I knew I had to give this a spin in my ice cream maker.
In this the final smoothie in our "Week of Smoothies", I thought I'd round off things with one that's not only very simple to make, but it mimics a popular drink we enjoy in the Caribbean, Carrot Punch! With orange juice and diced apples, it's packed with health benefits and so refreshing. While smoothies are not something we traditionally make in the Caribbean (as I've mentioned before), you'll find that it's becoming very popular the past few years. And while we normally reach for tropical fruits, apples are widely available - to be honest I've had better apples in the Caribbean (imported) than in Canada.
If you've been keeping score you'll realize that we're up to day 4 or simply the 4th smoothie recipe is this the first annual Week Of Smoothies at CaribbeanPot.com. While you won't automatically associate Kale and Cantaloupe with the Caribbean, the last few times I was down on the islands I saw them both readily available. I assume the same way we can get any tropical fruits and vegetables in North America, you're seeing the reverse on the islands. Luv it!
We always looked forward to watermelon season when I was a kid growing up on the islands, but having the patience to not prematurely pick the massive melons dad grew in his garden wasn't the easiest thing for a kid. Pops has his own technique for telling when the watermelons are perfectly red inside and while he never passed that tip on to me, I do get a chuckle when I see people tapping, scrutinizing, holding them up to the light and do other weird things to them at the grocery store. My tip.. go to where they have the cut slices for sale and if they are red and look perfect, chances are the whole ones on sale will be good. After-all, that's where that cut piece came from.
As we continue with this week of smoothies, it's time to use a very common but ignored Caribbean (tropical) fruit, Jackfruit. A sweet (like refined sugar) tasting fruit, with a sort of custard-like texture, but the scent can be a bit overpowering when it's fully ripe. We had just driven through Fern Gully, Jamaica and had stopped for 'refreshments' at a road-side bar, when I gazed on a Jackfruit tree on the side of the building laden with some of the largest fruits I've ever seen. It's funny how whenever I think about Jackfuit, it takes me back to that Jamaican trip and the roadside bar where I enjoyed some of the most refreshing Guinness I've ever had.
My dad is a BOSS at making homemade ice cream from the many local tropical fruits we had growing in our yard and to this day he still relies on his old hand-crank ice cream maker (aka ice cream pail). According to him, the electric machines just can't get the consistency correct. Besides coconut, making soursop was his next favorite flavor to make for us. Ice cream making was a sort of weekend tradition, especially when relatives were visiting.
As a kid growing up on the islands, one of our favorite frozen treats were ice blocks. Any fruit juice mom would make, we'd fill ice trays with and when frozen, they would be perfect for the tropical heat of the Caribbean (known locally as ice-blocks). Besides the various fruit juices she'd make from local fruits, our fave was always cool aid... especially "red" and grape! This is one of those recipes that's not really a recipe, but rather a fun way to get the kids involved in the kitchen.
With a variety of banana and plantain trees in our kitchen garden at the back of our home, we grew up with a natural affection for boiled and/or fried plantains. Sunday lunch was all about the sides of boiled plantains to give the entire meal a sort of rounded appeal, with the natural sweetness of the plantain. It's funny how I still crave plantains from time to time (would explain why I'm always experimenting with different recipes), but I've not had a ripe banana in about 20 years.
There's all the food, the merriment with family and friends and of-course the variety of adult beverages, but nothing SCREAMS Christmas in the Caribbean louder than a thick slice of black fruit/rum cake. I remember mom having her dried fruits soaked in a lethal combination of rum, sherry and cask wine, for months (even a full year at times) and as a family we'd all have a hand in making this Christmas staple. We didn't have an electric mixer in those days, so everything was done manually.
Though not necessarily a "Caribbean" thing when I was a young fella' on the islands, smoothies are making it's way across the island chain as more and more people are looking for healthy ways to start their day, especially with the abundance of fresh tropical fruits we have available to us. Back then, you'd quicker find freshly made juices and punches with the same fruits, so I must confess that I'm not a huge fan of smoothies (it just wasn't part of my diet). This mango raspberry smoothie only takes a couple minutes to make, quite refreshing and a wonderful meal in a glass.