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Feijoas

Feijoa sellowiana


Description

One of the small compensations for summer being over, feijoas are almost quintessentially Kiwi, despite being native to South America.

Sweet and aromatic, feijoas are normally about the size of a chicken egg, and underneath a tough, green skin is a sweet, tangy jelly that’s surrounded by a sour gritty rind.

Feijoas are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, and a good source of manganese, which helps bone formation and calcium absorption, among other things.

Blessed as we are in New Zealand with perfect growing conditions for feijoas, many people who don’t have a tree of their own will usually have a friend, relative, or friend-of-a-friend with a bounty they can pillage. But if you find yourself stuck buying them, avoid any that have damage around the stalk scar, or still have their stalk attached; this indicates they weren’t ready to come off the tree and probably won’t ripen as they should.

It’s hard to gauge the ripeness of a feijoa otherwise; unlike many fruits, their skins don’t really change colour, and the best indicator is the flesh inside. The jelly in a perfectly ripe feijoa will be clear – if it’s white, the feijoa isn’t ripe, and if it’s going brown or grey it’s a bit past its best. If the outer skin is yellowing or developing brown blotches, it’s well past its best.

Feijoas have a shelf life of about a week after harvesting, so they’re best eaten soon after purchase or stored in the fridge if you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting around.

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History

Feijoas are native to South America, mainly found in mountainous areas of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. They were first collected in the early 19th century in Brazil by German explorer Friedrich Sellow, and named after a Brazilian botanist by the name of Joam da Silva Feijo.

Feijoas were introduced to New Zealand in the 1920s, with the climate and relatively few insect pests providing ideal growing conditions for the fruit. New Zealand is now the major international supplier of feijoas.

Uses

Most people who’ve grown up in New Zealand will be familiar with the traditional method of cutting or breaking the feijoa in half, and scooping or sucking out the pulp.

Feijoas are also an excellent addition to fruit crumbles, smoothies, and muffins – if you have too many to use you can scoop out the pulp and freeze it by the cup for about a year. Don’t throw out the skins, though – you can use those to make flavoured vinegars or cider.

Facts

Feijoas are sometimes known as the pineapple guava, despite not being related to either the pineapple or the guava. The feijoa bush is actually a type of myrtle.



Figs »« Cherries

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