We sometimes get asked whether Tiny Isle products are organic. The answer is, as far as certification goes, no. As far as food quality and food ethics are concerned, we believe we hold our products to as high a standard as any certified organic manufacturer.
As anyone who owns a small business will likely agree, when you’re small, margins are tight. Paying for organic certification (many thousands as a yearly expense) doesn’t look like a sensible choice to us, especially in the local/artisanal products market where the organic label isn’t as necessary.
We also know that our local macadamia nut farmers and beekeepers are going to face similar choices about getting certified.
It’s Not About the Certification
Instead of looking for a certificate, we get to know our producers and see their operations. We gain firsthand knowledge of the quality of what they produce. Visiting the farm, we get a sense of their relationship to the land, and see that organic farming methods are in use. This makes sense to us, and we think that approach is also appreciated by the people who enjoy our products.
As many of you know, we also have a vanillery here on Kauai. This is the first big year for beans out of our vanillery, and we now have beans from our 2018 harvest available for purchase over at The Vanillery of Kauai.
Well, the official word is out, we’re no longer allowed to put love into our products.
Just kidding…really we’re just not allowed to list “love” as in ingredient on our product packaging.
We’ve had “love” listed as an ingredient from the beginning, and although we chose to remove it several months ago (in order to be compliant with Whole Foods’ requirements) we still love making delicious, healthful treats in our kitchens here in Kapaa. We work with conscious intention for health, healing, love and gratitude in making all our products.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help commenting on this news item because it’s so typical of the humorlessness of these bureaucracies that can’t recognize that people have the common sense to know when something is meant as an intention as opposed to a physical thing. I mean who thinks that we have a big bag of “love” back here and are adding it by the spoonful? Metaphorically, yes, that’s exactly what we are doing…but I think everyone gets that.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved a request made by the Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Corp. to use a health claim on their product labeling. We’ve long known that Macadamia Nuts are a healthy source of fat (due to it’s beneficial omega-3/omega-6 ratio) but retailers have not been able to make specific health claims on their labeling due to FDA restrictions.
This recent ruling by the FDA gives us the OK to make labeling claims like “heart healthy” or “reduces the risk of coronary disease.” Their official statement is:
“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat [and calorie] content.”
Now, this doesn’t make a big difference to us, we know the nuts are healthy, and our customers know it too. It’s not a part of our marketing to cite such specific health benefits because we take a much more holistic view of health and nutrition than the FDA or the AHA (American Heart Association) generally does. Nevertheless, it’s good to have some science that supports what we’ve long known getting recognized.
In most Tiny Isle products, salt plays a subtle, yet critical role in enhancing the flavor of the foods we produce. For us, it is essential that the salt we use be 100% sourced from Hawaiian waters and made by a local business. We found an excellent source of such salt from Kona Sea Salt on the Big Island.
Anyone who has done a taste test with salt knows that all salt does not taste the same. Even though all plain salt is nearly 100% sodium chloride, the trace minerals, moisture content, and actual crystalline form of the salt play an important role in the flavor. Describing the flavor of salt is difficult, but Kona Sea Salt is one of the best-tasting salts I’ve tried. As a person who is very passionate about delicious food, I pay a lot of attention to the salt I use, and this is one of the best.
Kona Sea Salt is collected from over 2,000 feet below the surface. The waters at these depths are old and pure. The resulting salt is a bright white color, and it comes in the form of fluffy crystal flakes that have a nice crunch. You can directly experience this with our Sea Salt Truffle.
For our recipes, the salt is ground into a fine powder so it will blend and marry with the other ingredients. We use the smallest effective quantity of salt so you’re not really tasting it in most cases. On the other hand, we have sea salt truffles and our salted caramel truffle where the salt flavor is more present.
We’re proud to be using this 100% Hawaiian sea salt made on the Big Island.
It looks like we can add Macadamia nuts to the list of niche foods (like vanilla and chocolate) that are experiencing increased demand beyond what can be produced.
South Africa is the largest producer of Macadamia nuts, so price news there will affect the entire market. It looks like in anticipation of a short supply Chinese buyers began buying larger quantities of the in-shell nuts, according to an article in South Africa’s Fresh Plaza news site. The will have consequential effects on the shelled nut market and then on to all other products using the nuts, including Macadamia nut butter.
This is in contrast to lower prices that were experienced about 10 years ago in Hawaii because 10 years before that, lots of new Macadamia nut production was planted. The total amount of Macadamia nuts produced in Hawaii (47,000 lbs. last year) isn’t enough to directly affect global prices, however.
–– Jansen, Carolize (2017, June 26). South Africa: Record prices for macadamias as demand exceeds supply. Fresh Plaza. Retrieved from http://www.freshplaza.com
Here’s a recipe for a simple avocado salad that is really, mostly just avocado! Naturally, the success of this dish depends on having really good flavor and texture in your avocado. Use avocados that are ripening, but still firm enough to stay as chunks in the salad. If it’s too soft, you get a paste and it’s hard to call it a salad anymore.
I used this large, dark purple avocado from a tree that is just coming in. You’ll need about 1 1/2 lbs. of avocado fruit. I like to peel it instead of scooping it out for a cleaner look, but whatever lets you keep it in chunks will work. Cut it into pieces, smaller is better so there’s more surface area, but not so small it mushes. Sprinkle with the Hawaiian sea salt (ours comes from Salt Pond on the west side of the island) and gently fold it in.
Give the salt a while (like 15 minutes or more) to melt, then add the lime juice, fresh chilies and 3/4 of the green onion. Mix it in (minimally) and let that sit for a while. It’s really convenient to let it sit while you prepare other food.
Now fold in the macadamia nut butter and tomatoes and spoon the salad into a serving bowl. It’s pretty dense…maybe it would be best to serve it over a bed of massaged kale, water cress, or sliced radicchio. Top with the remaining green onion.
1 large (1.5 lbs) avocado: firm, yet ripe
1/2 tsp. coarse Hawaiian sea salt, the alaea (pink) kind if you can
juice of 1/2 lime (about 2 tbs.)
fresh chile to taste, chopped: I’d suggest using a medium spicy chile like jalapeño or aji cristal
1 small green onion, thin thin slice or chopped
3 tbs. macadamia nut butter raw or toasted (yes, of course it should be Tiny Isle!)
1/4 c. diced fresh tomato: quartered cherries or grape tomatoes work well
Most of what you need to make guacamole can be found outside your back door here in Hawaii. We probably have 10 avocado trees around here, make that 10 different kinds of avo trees! Several are ready now, so we are required to eat lots of avocado every day.
Each of us here makes the guac in their own way. My way is to season the avocado with enough lime, chili and salt to make it exciting. Those four ingredients make kind of the perfect ensemble, but even so, additions like cilantro and green onion are welcomed also. The light, assertive flavor of those greens adds distinct and harmonious notes. We enjoy the guacamole frequently during avocado season, which for us lasts from September to March.
I wanted to take this picture because it shows these essential ingredients in their purest, freshest state. The mac nut butter was because I thought it might go well. Do we put macadamia nut butter into our guacamole? No, not really! It might well be good, but nobody I suggested it to thought it sounded good. So instead, I made an avocado salad.