For many, one of the “must visit” booths at the Punahou Carnival is Jams & Jellies. With eager customers lining up long before the event opens, it’s a booth where you come early or are forced to wait until next year for its delectable delights.
This stalwart Carnival attraction grew largely as the result of the efforts of Francis I. Bowers ’20 and his wife, Laura Pratt ’21 Bowers. It’s a result that Mr. Bowers would joke about in an April 1976 oral history interview by saying, “Well, if I’d only kept my big mouth shut, we wouldn’t have gotten involved.”
Fortunately, he did open his mouth. You see, Bowers had valuable skills that were honed working as a horticulturist at the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station from 1947 to 1965. While there, he was particularly involved in the development of taro, guava, and lilikoi plants.
Today, the skills offered by Bowers are the bailiwick of well paid food technologists who labor in well stocked industrial kitchens developing tomorrow’s foods and technologies. But it is precisely these skills that were needed to increase Jams & Jellies production to meet carnival demand, and Bowers had them.
According to Mrs. Bowers, “When we first beganmaking jelly up at Dole Hall, we would hang all our juice in bags on broom handles and let it drip overnight. Then we had to get up real early in the morning to get there to get the kitchen in order for use for the day. And that got to be a little chore. So my husband–he’s always inventing something so he invented this washing machine.”
The invention was a stainless laundry extractor that would spin the juice out of the pulp. Thought Bowers, “They do the same thing with sugar Why can’t you do it with juice?” Why not exactly. So a washing machine was purchased from the School for the Blind, which was closing its laundry facility, and put to work spinning pulp for carnival.
That solved one problem and more Bowers inspired innovations were to follow. Said Bowers:
I started in my plantings of fruit and then after we’d gotten all the data we needed we had no use for the fruit. We used a lot of it at the food processing laboratory, but they could use only so much of it and I said, “Well, what if I just borrowed a little bit of it and used it down at Punahou for jams and jellies?” And so I brought some of that down.
And then came this spin dryer deal. I was always coming up with some brilliant idea of how to do something a little bit better, because I was born lazy and I wanted to do it easier. And that’s where I volunteered, so we made jams and jellies for over twenty years.
When we first began, we used to gather up bottles and then in the middle of the night you’d try to match your cover to your jar and you had to put paraffin on it. Well, we were getting a little busy and a little too old for that so we said, “If we don’t buy jars, I don’t see how we can keep on doing this.” We were working at the same time. You know, you’d sit up until one or two in the morning and then come to work kind of bedraggled the next day. So then we began ordering jars and when we were doing it well. Before I retired we were doing 20,000 jars, which is a lot of jam and jelly.
Today’s Jams & Jellies booth offers a variety of delectables including mango sauce, lilikoi and guava butter, as well as red pepper, green pepper, surinam cherry, guava and lilikoi jelly … depending upon fruit availability, donations, and the imagination of booth chairpersons.
Of course, the best seller is mango chutney. It’s a wonderfully chunky tart chutney with a spicy bite that comes from just a few small red peppers. But you have to get there early to grab it because it’s the first to sell out in the booth’s inventory.
Can’t get there early or living off island? Here’s the recipe to help you make it yourself at home. Of course, if you are in the area, why not drop buy to buy a jar to support this wonderful scholarship fund raiser?
Punahou Mango Chutney
10 pounds mangoes (green or half-ripe), peeled, sliced and cut in chunks
3/4 cups salt
5 pounds sugar
6 or 7 cups cider vinegar, depending on acidity of mangoes
1-1/2 pounds almonds, blanched and cut in thin strips
1 pound finely sliced candied lemon peel
1 pound finely sliced candied orange peel
2 large onions, chopped fine
2 pounds seedless raisins
1 pound finely sliced citron
2/3 cup green ginger, cooked and chopped fine
1 cup finely chopped preserved ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
8 small Hawaiian chiles, with seeds removed, chopped fine
Sprinkle mangoes with salt and allow to stand overnight.
Boil the sugar and vinegar 5 minutes, add to the drained mango, cook until tender. Add the other ingredients and cook slowly to desired consistency, 30 minutes to an hour. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal immediately.
Makes 15 pints.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per 2-tablespoon serving: 90 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 0.5 g. saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, greater than 150 mg sodium.