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A bounty of true Kauai flavors awaits clients who walk through the door of Monkeypod Jam, located on the island’s south shore. The distinctive shop offers samples anytime, as well as weekly tastings of jams, jellies, chutneys and preserves made solely from area-grown ingredients.
The company is a perfect fit for Kauai. Nicknamed the Garden Island, it’s a fertile destination, thanks to its rich soil, tropical climate and the creativity of its growers and chefs.
Monkeypod Jam exemplifies how Kauai is making the most of what's cultivated locally and sharing it with enthusiastic patrons. Using the tagline "Preserving Hawaii,” it beckons visiting foodies, farmers and fans of authentic island products.
Food With Deep RootsMonkeypod Jam is the brainchild of Aletha Thomas, who comes by her talents honestly.
"My mom grew up in Saskatchewan, and my dad's from Minnesota — the sort of places where you have to put away food to get through the winter,” said Thomas, who remembers learning the tricks of the canning trade while working in the kitchen alongside her mother and grandmother.
Channeling that passion as an adult, Thomas began crafting jams from Kauai-grown produce, then selling them at farmers markets around the island. Her creations quickly caught on, and a business was born in 2010.
Today, Thomas uses only Kauai-sourced foods that are in season. She has developed close relationships with dozens of growers, many of whom set aside part of their crops just for her.
Her entrepreneurial spirit has paid off. Since she launched the company, she has become the second-largest buyer of fruits and vegetables on Kauai.
Monkeypod Jam’s line includes 55 seasonal, Kauai-inspired delectables such as orange chocolate sauce, Tahitian lime curd and Seville orange marmalade.
Free Tastings and $25 FlightsAbout four years ago, Monkeypod Jam started a new chapter when it opened a retail shop and bistro in the tiny town of Lawai. Although nondescript from the outside, the shop’s attractive interior features a hospitable decor of rich woods and plantation-style furnishings.
Throughout the day, clients who stop by the shop are offered gratis samples of Thomas’ luscious concoctions.
“We take the same approach as you’d find in a wine room,” said Thomas, as she handed out mini-spoonfuls of spreads in tantalizing combinations including orange/ginger; papaya/vanilla bean; white pineapple/ginger; and apple/ banana/cinnamon/brown sugar.
In 2018, Thomas introduced a weekly, sit-down tasting on Thursdays from 2-2:45 p.m. For $25 per person, visitors can try a flight of three different courses — one savory, one pickled and one sweet — that show off her products. Homemade lemonade enhances the experience.
During the tasting, clients learn about the company’s history, methods, goals and sustainable efforts. Participants receive a 10% discount on their purchases.
Light Meals in the CafeMonkeypod Jam also presents a bistro menu of flavor-forward foods including soups, paninis, grain bowls, salads and biscuits with gravy.
"We make everything in-house," Thomas said. "We're taking the cafe seriously, so we’ve hired an experienced chef who's very farm-to-table oriented."
Meanwhile, clients can taste and buy Monkeypod Jam’s products at a pair of farmers markets: Wednesday afternoons at The Shops at Kukuiula Village in Poipu; and Saturday mornings at Kauai Community College in Lihue.
With each purchase, visitors can feel good knowing they’re supporting Hawaii’s agricultural future.
It’s the ultimate jam session.
The DetailsMonkeypod Jamwww.monkeypodjam.com