Khmerican Family Abroad | #7 🌳 A Forgotten Noni Empire 🍈

justinparke
Justin Parke @justinparkeSeptember 2019 · 6 min read

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🥝🍓🍍#fruitsandveggiesmonday🥕🥒🥔

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Noni juice, noni juice, oh how me miss noni juice! There once was a time when reigned supreme over a NONI 🏰 EMPIRE!!

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🍈 | WHAT IN THE WORLD IS NONI? | 🌳

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Noni beautifully arranged by @Sreypov 💚

     Noni is a terribly stinky fruit that almost everyone either hates or loves. I would dare to say it's more out of this world than durian. Imagine a grenade-sized inside-out pineapple with a smooth and hard skin like an apple. Originally from Polynesia, this fruit has spread to tropical zones all over the world.
     The fruit, seeds and leaves of the noni tree are all edible. In Cambodia mostly the leaves are used in a traditional soup called Amok, a very thick curry-like dish containing coconut milk or cream and young noni leaves. Noni has a reputation as a famine food, much like moringa, but to me noni is the real "King of Fruits." Called "cheesefruit" by the Aussies, I think that is a fair enough name for a fruit whose fermented juice tastes a bit like blue cheese.

⚒️ | OUR EMPIRE | 🏰

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     I don't know how I ending up making noni juice having never even tried it. I only know I had seen it in hip stores in the USA for very high prices. If you've read past posts, you may know we had an I-tal restaurant when we lived in Cambodia. It was our noni juice hustle that allowed us to save enough money open that restaurant.
     As a chef and renegade picker of abandoned fruit trees and wild plants, I noticed after several years in Cambodia that the local people didn't really use the fruit at all. In time I learned this was a free resource I needed to take advantage of.
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Sakana displaying some of the day's catch 🏴‍☠️
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@Sreypov feeding the goats excess leaves 🐐

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     The mission was simple; find noni trees on abandoned or public land and pick them clean. This was before our Bajaj RE🛺 entered our life, so we had ride to around 4-deep on one motorcycle while scouting trees. Sakana on the gas tank, Sreypov behind me and Srey Yuu on the rear grab-bar was how we made this possible. We could often fill a 50L duffel bag, place that on top of the gas tank with Sakana, and slowly and carefully make our way home.

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A fresh haul ready for processing 👨‍🏭

     The site where Sreypov is pictured above feeding the goats noni leaves had a little beach which offered the kids swimming opportunities, and it quickly became a favorite after-school picking spot. It truly became a family activity for which we all had different roles.
     I was head picker, and therefore received all fallen ant🐜nests on my head. Srey Yuu and Sakana handled washing and leaf-plucking at home. Sreypov took care of sorting and sunbathing before jarring. It took some trial and error, but we finally settled on a traditional Hawaiian method for processing fruit and fermentation. This method involved first washing the noni fruit, and thoroughly sun-drying before jarring. Only when fruits turn soft, waxy and transluctent are they ready for jarring. Jarring wet fruits resulted in mold, and jarring unripe fruits turned them rock-hard and black.

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Fruits in the jar perfectly translucently ripe and ready for sunlight-exposed fermentation 🌞
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Sometimes your neighbors know you love noni and leave it on your doorstep 🚪
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She wanted to sort noni at night solo 🦉
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Think like a champion for noni success 🏆

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💪 | BENEFITS OF NONI | ⚕️

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     I mentioned earlier the taste and smell is a bit like blue cheese. Well I'm gonna go a little further and say it's actually a cross between blue cheese, pineapple and vinegar🤮. Somehow the taste grows on you with time, and you learn to enjoy sipping noni.
     For those that never learn to appreciate the taste, a bit of palm sugar and cold water make it taste very much like a regular palatable fruit juice. Because the fruit contains so little sugar, the fermentation process produces almost no alcohol and results in something more like a vinegar or tonic. When the fruits turn ripe and semi-translucent they start to give off liquid. Sunbathing the fermenting jars speeds up the process and helps keep things sterile.
     Some sort of intuition🔮 tells you the strange way in which this fruit ferments and produces liquid gives it some unique qualities. The fruits naturally ferment like this when they fall off the tree and land on the ground. I've personally seen animals selectively choose ripe fruits to eat, and animals generally have good intuition when it comes to these things.
     Noni juice is full of various B vitamins and contains 17 amino acids, loads of potassium and more. Due to these qualities, we developed a system of taking a shot 15 minutes before and after meals to aid in digestion and general health. Many western weightlifters💪, runners🏃 and bodybuilders🏋 also purchased our noni juice in Cambodia. The local Khmer producers make noni juice by simply sticking the ripe fruits in rice wine, which results in an inferior diluted product. Due to this we also had many Khmer senior🦯citizens who purchased our noni juice.
     Eventually we began to pick the town's trees dry and locals👩🏽‍🌾 wisened up to our hustle and began to sell us fruit at around 20¢ US per kilo. We did this for a number of years until it became increasingly harder to find enough fruit to fill our customers' needs. We eventually closed our restaurant, and I went to the USA in hopes of obtaining a Suriname visa while the family stayed behind in Cambodia. Sreypov continued to make a little noni juice here and there and also hosted some private buffet dinner parties while I was in the USA working. We miss our NONI EMPIRE and now hope to rebuild it one day here in Suriname, where there are many unpicked trees all over Paramaribo.

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🥝🍓🍍#fruitsandveggiesmonday🥕🥒🥔

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Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any experience with noni and tell mewhat you use it for in the comments below.


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Please upvote, resteem and follow me @justinparke

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Wow this is such a great story! I love how you told your getting into a noni empire... and I'm sure you miss it. Must have been a great adventure of trial and error.

And this is amazing:

a fruit whose fermented juice tastes a bit like blue cheese

I do like stinky cheese!

Thanks for the post


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      THANKS! Okay, I have miserably failed as a noni salesmen 👨‍💼 with this post, but the post itself has been mildly successful. We aim to be stinking 👃 up our landlord's house very soon with some jars of fermenting noni. We just have to make sure she is okay with it first.


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Haha, I'm still sold on it because I like vinegar type things and I've been loving the whole fermented foods and drinks thing that been happening again!


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Apparently in Cambodia, noni reached it peak of hipness in the late 1990's, and that's when everybody was planting trees like crazy. Now it's out of fashion and there are so many abandoned huge trees to pick full of fruit.


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Funny how fashions work. 30 years is a good number for a fruit tree to grow!


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I hope your landlady likes the idea!


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The jury is still out on that one.


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eco-alex
eco-alex @eco-alexSeptember 2019

Really nice and original post! Nice one and thanks for sharing this on the ecoTrain tag! Xx


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Of course. I guess the post isn't necessarily a good sales pitch, but noni is not for all.


0

What a great post about a unique fruit! I've never tried noni, but I'm not quite sure if I want to given your description, haha! I was never a fan of blue cheese, even before I went vegan. Sounds like it has quite a few benefits though! Thanks for using the #fruitsandveggiesmonday tag. Have you seen the original contest post: https://steemit.com/fruitsandveggiesmonday/@vegansofsteemit/7m3wvg-steemit-fruits-and-veggies-monday-challenge? If you mention myself and @lenasveganliving (the creator of the tag and contest) in your posts, and drop your link on the contest post we'd love to put you in the running for possible SBI shares. :)


20

OK, will do. Thanks! This is only my second post relating to food, so I'm still learning the tags and what curators to expose them too.


0

Well we are happy to have you! Fruits and Veggies Monday runs every week, so you are always welcome to join if you have a suitable post. All the requirements are in the contest post, but feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions on how to enter. :)


20

Wonderful! Thanks again for all the info and links @plantstoplanks.


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Congratulations! Your high-quality travel content was selected by @travelfeed curator @for91days and earned you a reward, in form of an upvote and a resteem. Your work really stands out! Your article now has a chance to get featured under the appropriate daily topic on our TravelFeed blog.
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20
oheyo
Kristina Q. @oheyoSeptember 2019

Great story about your family's scrappy little noni monopoly 👏 but wow, @justinparke, I've now filed noni (especially noni juice) away as something to *avoid*. 😅

>a fruit whose fermented juice tastes a bit like blue cheese
Okay, that sounds interesting, I'll definitely have to try this at least once

>it's actually a cross between blue cheese, pineapple and vinegar
Uh.. never mind.


22

Well, yeah it's not for everyone. Don't knock it til you try it. I would dare say it's pleasant chilled with a hint of palm sugar.


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oheyo
Kristina Q. @oheyoSeptember 2019

🤔 I know it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but do you think someone who likes kombucha might be a fan?


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     Well, to my knowledge, I hear kombucha is a bit beer-like, and has very small amounts of alcohol. I am strictly Ital, so I have never tried it because of this reason. However, I think kombucha is very similar to another drink we used to make called "ginger bug", a lactofermentation simliar to kimchi or sauerkraut.

     I think if you have alkaline fruits and vegetables, or Caribbean style bitter drinks, you might like it. All in all, I think it's hit and miss. We used to give out free shots to customers in our restaurant, because most people have never heard of it. I would say from giving it to the random masses chilled and sweetened with a bit of palm sugar, we received about a 50/50 ratio of those who like versus hate it. If you're in the USA you can probably buy a liter of noni for between $20 and $40 form a health food store or an Asian market.


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oheyo
Kristina Q. @oheyoSeptember 2019

Nice - thanks for the detailed response! You've convinced me to give noni juice a chance 😅

By the way, I could have SWORN I upvoted your post already, but Esteem isn't showing that I did! Upvoting now!


10

Give it a try, although the stuff from the stores in the USA is pasteurized, so it's a bit dead, but the only way you're gonna get your hands on fresh juice would be from Florida perhaps, but I can't honestly say I've ever seen or heard of anyone growing it there; I just figure the climate is possible.


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     Wow! Thanks again Travelfeed.io ! Thank you @for91days for your curation. I made the mistake of not using the Travelfeed Editor to post this one, thinking it was only loosely travel-related. Anyways, the formatting didn't turn out to nice when viewed on the Travelfeed.io site. I am now using a lot markdown in my posts, and I find a post looks good when made in Travelfeed, it always looks good on Steemit, but not always vice-versa. On Partiko all markdown code doesn't work and the post looks like a hot mess.


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What an amzing story! Altough I feel sad your Noni empire in Cambodia is gone, I believe you are going to build a new one soon in Suriname. I am also very happy, you shared your story with us here for FAVM! I wish you a bright future and I hope you will return to our contest more often 🌴😊🌴

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We're already plotting our steps back to EMPIRE status again. My wife and I are both I-tal chefs, so we'll be expanding our #travelblog beyond to the world of #vegansofsteemit very soon.


0

I am so happy to hear that Justin! I wish you only the best and I look forward to see all your wonderful creations 🥑😊🥭


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joshman
joshman @joshmanSeptember 2019

I can't imagine something being worse than durian!


20

Noni's up there. I bet it's probably in the horn of Africa too. Vomit, pineapple, sweaty socks and blue cheese are just a few of the adjectives I've heard people who have tried it say. I appreciate it's taste, and like sipping it ice cold with a spliff after a meal.

Funny enough durian smells good to me, but tastes horrible. This is the opposite of what most people experience.


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joshman
joshman @joshmanSeptember 2019

Sounds wonderful.

I even tried durian candy, and went to a fancy bakery in BKK(forget the name) to have their famous durian cake. Still no dice lol


21

Jackfruit is where it's at anyways. My old town Kampot, in Cambodia, is supposedly home of the world's best durians, even putting a durian fruit roundabout in the center of town. Due to this, Cambodian tourists flock to purchase them, and the prices skyrocket. All this activity makes jackfruit very cheap, sometimes a fruit the size of a human torso for $2 or less. I'll stick with the less stinky cousins jackfruit and breadfruit, but no durian for me too.


0

I forgot the name of our restaurant was Adwa. It is the battle in which Ethiopia defeated Italy, and the battle that whose painful memory caused Mussolini to attack Ethiopia in WW2. I imagine Victory at Adwa is a heavily celebrated day in Ethiopia.


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joshman
joshman @joshmanSeptember 2019

Nice!

Oh for sure, they are proud of the fact they were never colonialized, only occupied.


20

Only country in the world according my study of history.


0

What a well put together post! I'm not too sure about the Trump photo, but I do like Sakana holding those noni fruit with a big smile! I've never eaten noni. it's good to learn about the health benefits of it!


20

Thank you very much. I'm not a Trump fan, but couldn't resist taking a photo when I saw a Thai publishing company translating Trump books to Khmer to sell to Cambodian customers. You can find noni in most fairly hip health food and drug stores.


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Phew, relief abounds! It is definitely an amusing capture!


20

So😍 much tasty fruit 🥝🥦🌶


20

That's certainly in the eyes of the beholder when it comes to noni.


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lion200
lion200 @lion200September 2019

Never heard of this fruit before. Looks like you had a lot of fun! :)


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     We sure did. It was the whole experience from riding the motorcycle scouting locations to the adrenaline rush of renegade picking, watching the fruit ripen and smelling that noni goodness. Something's probably wrong with us but we miss the smell in the house. Morinda Citrifolia is the scientific name in case you're looking it up for more information.


0

The noni smells and tastes really awful! But it is excellent for its nutrients... I prepare it by letting it get acidic and its juice i take it and it makes me really active even just putting it in the base terrifies me as you know


11

I'm actually quite fond of the taste of noni juice, but I'm not your average cookie. If you're making a lot you can try our method to get out every last drop. We adapted a mechanic's bearing press to become our noni-press. We made a sleeve and a head for the press, wrapped the noni in cheesecloth and then cranked the t-handle a little bit every 5 minutes until we created a rock-hard dry noni puck.


0

Wow great method! But really the taste for me is very unpleasant


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haikubot
haikubot @haikubotSeptember 2019

Wow great method! But
Really the taste for me is
Very unpleasant

                 - truelovemom


I'm a bot. I detect haiku.


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