Apple 02 Caramel Charlotte (page 215) – the ultimate and only apple in Hawaii

one of the most difficult cakes on the Cake Bible is the Ethereal Pear Charlotte:

one of the most difficult cakes on Rose’s Heavenly Cakes is the Apple Caramel Charlotte.  for decades, i’ve been hearing about apples growing in Hawaii.  my friend Tracy from Hawaiian Vanilla Company just made apple sauce from ‘wonderful apples she just picked.’

for ROSE’S heavenly CAKES: Apple Caramel Charlotte (page 215) i may need to make a special hike to the end of the world (actually, the beginning of heaven) to find local apples!

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seems that the hike is difficult:

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Cafe Pesto has been offering a special dinner menu with Hot Keanakolu Apple Crisp, reviewed on the blogosphere as “There’s the after dinner desert that brings all things together.  Hot Keanakolu Apple Crisp, Freshly sliced apples with a macadamia nut crumb topping, Hot and with Ice Cream.  A perfect desert to finish a fabulous meal.  Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, its the American Dream.”

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here is what i found on the internet (some of the links are no longer active):

“Apples in Hawai’i- it’s all about elevation.  Just few types of temperate fruit are grown in Hawai’i. . .  There are a few native berries that have close temperate relatives:

The native O’helo berry grows above 4,000ft and reminds me of a cross between our two California huckleberries, the red and blue. The native Akala berry is nearly identical to our Salmon Berry, and grows above 3,000 ft

Strawberries and Raspberries are grown commercially in upper Kula, Maui (3,000ft+). Besides the sickly wine grapes Jeff mentioned that are grown commercially at Ulupalakua Maui (2500ft), a few acres are also grown on the dry side of Volcano, Big Island (4,000ft).
Persimmons, Figs and Loquats are found bearing well at low elevations, But those are pretty low chill ‘temperate’ or subtropical plants. I have never seen apples at lower elevations, though rumors persist. And it’s true- the fruit flies are brutal.

Things really start to change as you get higher in elevation. This luxury of climate is found only in small areas of Maui, and a larger but still limited area on the Big Island. Frosts (32F) are known to occur maybe once a year at 2500ft-3000ft. At 6,000ft frosts are pretty dependable. Snow comes down to 9,000ft (Haleakala, Maui) once every few years. I have seen snow on the north face of Mauna Kea (14,000ft) in July.

To grow real deciduous fruit, 6,000 ft seems high enough.

Here is a recent account of an adventure to harvest apples, pears and walnuts at 6,000 ft on the east flank of Mauna Kea, island of Hawai’i

Look at these photos:


Any guesses on the variety of apple? Pears look like maybe Bartlett, Bosc, and Seckel?

This is a historic experimental orchard that was planted around 1890. Here is a brief account of the place 100 years ago:

The Hawaiian Forester and Agriculturist
By Board of Commissioners of Agriculture and Forestry, 1909
12 years on the Big Island, and I never made it up to the old orchard- but I did eat some apple pie friends made from fruit they harvested up there.

So not impossible, only rare, apples do grow in Hawai’i.

The following thread was started by John Valenzuela Sunsetz16-17,Novato,CA on September 25, 2008 at 3:22 am PST

Fruit in the clouds


Did some research on your figuires as I never heard of sub 32f degree temps at the 2500-3000ft elevation in Hawaii
( Lanai city is at nearly 2000ft ! )
I have been there and while not muggy tropical, its still tropical at that elevation…. at least warm enough for coconuts to grow as high .

Hawaii volcanoes national park HQ at
4000 ft, is still warmer than 99% of Ca Averages for Dec highes 67f/ low 50f…
Temps below 40f are rare there, and there never has been a freeze there…I wouldn’t think there would be enough chill to grow apples that low… but as Axel said the do have so low chill varities

I did find a place with a weather station in Hawaii at the 5100ft elevation. called KULANI CAMP. Even at this altitude… temps are still mild… about like San Diego. 63 /43 in Dec.
As far as I can see… it has only dropped below 32f a couple of times in its history… with 31f as a record.

So as you mentioned… and back up by data that temperate fruits can be grown in Hawaii, you just to grow them you have to climb some tall moutains to do so …. not many people living at the 6000ft elevation!

Thanks for the info … I dig this researching this stuff.


The above followup was added by Jeff on September 25, 2008 at 12:46 am PST.

Thanks for the true data on Hawai’i cold temps


Hey Jeff,

Great research. My stories were based on just my own personal impressions. Those actual temps are really suprising- I guess the numbers don’t lie. I think it just feels like frost when it gets below 50F in the tropics.

The towns of Volcano (4,000), Kamuela/Waimea (3,000), and Kula (3,000) all have climates (and flora) that feel like Southern California to me. Warm days and cool nights (great for a sound sleep)

I am not sure if the actual elevation of the experimental orchard is 6,000 or closer to 5,300ft.

Yea, not many residents way up there at that altitude. In the old days there were the sheep herders, now just a few ranchers/cowboys. There is some Koa forest restoration work going on up at that elevation too (daily commute drive?).

Then there are the astronomers working at the 14,000ft summit of Mauna Kea . . . staying acclimatized by living at 9,000ft.

Do you ever get back to visit the Islands?

The above followup was added by John Valenzuela Sunsetz16-17,Novato,CA on September 25, 2008 at 11:13 pm PST.



Those mountain climates unlike a true temperate climate dont get warm or hot summers to balance the winter cold-right?
They are like cloudforests..the highs dont vary much -all year it could be 68f,low 58 or so.or lower numbers depending on how high ya go.
So,an apple could get all the winter chill it needs at 8,000 ft and never see above 58?.
My point is, Apples in the high tropics must have a hard time knowing what season it is..Hawaii might be different as it might be further north to have day lengths varie.But what about those right on the equator in Asia,South America,Africa?

The above followup was added by stan on September 27, 2008 at 8:25 am PST.

Warm days cool nights in Kamuela This will be our 3rd winter living on the wet (east) side of Kamuela (a.k.a. Waimea) on the Big Island. Last winter was the coldest, when we consistantly registered mid-30’s f at night. (Jan-Feb) Days got up to around 70 f. The daytime cloud cover keeps it warm, but when it clears up at night, it chills down quickly. We have a lot of things here that can’t be grown in the rest of the state, and when the weather doesn’t get cool enough, we find shortcuts. Like the time they iced down the roots of the cherry trees so we would have blossoms in time for the cherry blossom festival. However, I do have a bird-of-paradise plant and a stand of bananas in my backyard! My point is, if those are our temps, I’m pretty sure it gets colder up on the mountain. We’re trekking to the orchard tomorrow, and we hope for lots of apples and pears.”

6 thoughts on “Apple 02 Caramel Charlotte (page 215) – the ultimate and only apple in Hawaii

  1. Just this past week friends of mine went up to the Keanakolu orchard and brought back apples and pears. I was given some of them to play with in my kitchen and my friend Liana reported that her experimental apple tarts were delicious or ono as we say here for delicious….I told them next time they go up there I want to go! I’ve been hearing about this place for years, but you need 4 WD to make it to the orchard which is around the 6000 ft elevation of Mauna Kea on Mana Rd from Waimea (Kamuela)
    I think I need to check if Cafe Pesto in Hilo has any of that Hot Keanakolu Apple Crisp w/Tracy and Jim’s Vanilla bean ice cream this week!

    • S, thx for the report. lets keep our ears up for local apples and pears. i know pears need to be harvested green, and ripe off the tree, so the ones we import to Hawaii are VERY acceptable. regarding apples, i have no idea how fresh harvested compare with the imports we bring in.

      all i know is that Rose’s Ethereal Pear Charlotte is ULTIMATE, both in sacrificial labor, and in flavor. i expect the Apple Caramel Charlotte not any less.

      i want to do the hike. is this on the way to Mauna Kea telescope park which i have visited over a dozen time over the past 5 years! maybe i can ask my astronomer friends to pick some apples for me?

      • Aloha, Hector…no this is on the other side of the mountain…although you could possible follow a road from the road off Saddle Rd going up to Mauna Kea obsevatories, (if you know the way) this would be from the Waimea (Kamuela) side of the mountain, following Mana Rd.
        Unless the astronomers working up there are familiar with the trail to the orchard, I doubt many of them have ever been to the orchard…its more of a well-kept local secret.
        I am hoping that when Liana and Glen drive back up there they ask me to go along – it is more than a hike….
        You need a 4WD to get there.
        I hear there are also walnut and that holly grows up there since it is such a high altitude.

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