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Fresh and local: delicious Haitian produce not to miss this December

Cherries

Photo: Franck Fontain

Flying to Haiti in December? You're in for a treat.

Here's our guide to the quintessential Haitian fruits and vegetables that are in season at the turn of the year.

Street vendors in Fermanthe

Photo: Franck Fontain

Island ingredients

Haiti’s pristine white sand beaches and turquoise blue coves make it a compelling destination for summer holidays, but the year’s end is one of the best times to be here. In December, Christmas activities, patron saint festivals, and seasonal produce abound! Because of its tropical climate, Haiti benefits from a diverse seasonality of produce, and the months of September to December are a great time to do the foodie tour of Haiti.

 

Before we begin, it is important to note that while this produce is available at supermarkets in Haiti, you will get the most bang for your buck – and a more worthwhile experience – bartering with street vendors at one of the many marchés (street markets).

 

Now, let’s get stuck in!

Avocados

01. Avocados

There is nothing quite like a thick, creamy slice of avocado alongside some white rice and black beans – as you will learn soon after arriving to Haiti. Avocados are easily found everywhere on the island, in some places for as little as 25 HTG, or about 35 US cents. Make sure to stock up!

Beetroots

Photo: Franck Fontain

02. Beetroot

Bright, bold, sweet and crisp, this delightful root vegetable is in season around December and very popular in Haitian cuisine! Salade Russe is one of the most popular side dishes featuring beetroot, often featured next to diri kole or diri djondjon – your host will be more than happy to show you how it’s made!

Cherries

Photo: Franck Fontain

03. Cherries

Haiti produces a variety of cherry which, while tart when tasted alone, makes one of the most delicious and refreshing juices the island has to offer. The cherries are rinsed and blended with water, pits and all. The juice is then poured through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot before being diluted and sweetened – making for the perfect end-of-year refreshment, best enjoyed under the sun!

Grapefruit (Chadèk)

Photo: Franck Fontain

04. Grapefruit

Coming in close second – sometimes a little bit too close – to orange juice as Haiti’s favorite juice, grapefruit is one of the more popular fruits in season in December. Most people drink the juice, but you’ll also find it on your plate as a garnish, or grilled for breakfast.

Haitian oranges

Photo: Franck Fontain

05. Oranges

As sweet as they come! Oranges are a fan favorite in Haiti, mostly used in freshly-squeezed juice. Locals will tell you though, that the sweetest oranges are from the city of Cap-Haïtien, up North. If you ever happen to be in the area, make sure you get your hands on some!

Fried plantains

Photo: Franck Fontain

06. Plantains

In Haiti, no meal – especially not a Sunday meal – is complete without fried plantains. December is the season of family dinners, and as such, requires a lot of fried plantains – savory and sweet. These little golden pucks of pleasure are best enjoyed hot, with some fresh pikliz on top!

 

Fried plantains also feature in our guide to the Haitian street food you have to try, according to a Jacmel local.

Pigeon peas

Photo: Franck Fontain

07. Pigeon peas

You will hear people call them pwa kongo – almost always cooked up as a gravy accompaniment to white rice, pigeon peas are a Sunday dinner favorite – their distinct flavor cuts through the soft, tender white rice, and depending on where you’re eating, can complement some griyo, some fried chicken, or fish fillet!

Pumpkins

Photo: Franck Fontain

08. Pumpkin (joumou)

This is the star of soup joumou, on Haitian dining tables around the country every Sunday, and even more so every January 1 - when Haitians celebrate independence day.

 

Once cooked, its tough, hard outer shell houses a soft, delicious and incredibly tender flesh – which is blended down with water and spices, and stewed with meat, root vegetables, and pasta to make for a hearty breakfast soup.

Sugar apples (Cachiman)

Photo: Franck Fontain

09. Sugar apple

For those who are looking to explore different taste and flavor horizons, Haiti is a land ripe in sugar apples, especially towards the end of the year. The sweet and creamy fruit is a prized ingredient in juices and even in ice cream!


Written by Kelly Paulemon.

 

Published November 2018


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