Everything you need to know about feijoa, what they taste like, where to get them and what to cook with them including a great collection of feijoa recipes.
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What are feijoas?
Feijoas or feijoa sellowiana, also sometimes known as pineapple guava or guavasteen. Feijoas are a type of flowering plant that's native to some parts of South America. The plants are evergreen shrubs or trees with dark waxy leaves and pretty red flowers. Once established the plants can be prolific fruiters during fruit season in Autumn. Single plants can produce upwards of forty kilos of fruit in one season, that's a lot of feijoas!
The fruit themselves are green and ellipsoid in shape and are roughly the size of a chicken egg. The internal flesh is sweet, juicy and almost jelly like, surrounded by a firmer opaque flesh that's a bit gritty like pears can be. The fruit falls the ground when its ripe and it best to let them do so for maximum flavor. Feijoas are prone to bruising so its best to use them within a few days of harvesting, or see below for tips on how to preserve them for longer.
Where are feijoas grown in the world?
Although native to South America feijoas have been truly adopted as their own by New Zealanders. The plants are found far and wide in gardens, farms and streetscapes throughout the country, both as ornamental trees and for its fruit. It's a very popular fruit and flavoring, with supermarkets selling everything from feijoa juice and yogurt, to cereals, jams and even chocolate.
Feijoa are still unheard of in many parts of the world, but is slowly becoming more popular, especially in places where the plants grow well. You can find feijoas in garden and streetscapes in some parts of the east coast of the USA around California, in some parts of the east coast of Australia and in some parts of Iran, Spain and Italy.
Image by Herney
Where to get feijoa
In New Zealand feijoas are very easy to find. The supermarkets sell a huge variety of feijoa-flavored food. During feijoa season in Autumn they are readily available in supermarkets, markets and roadside stalls. Many, many kiwis have feijoas planted in their garden and people are often given bags and bags full of fruit by friends and family with more fruit than they know what do to with.
Outside New Zealand there are a few options. In parts of California in the USA feijoa are sometimes grown as ornamental trees, some people don't even realize the fruit on their trees are edible. It's worth asking around your local buy-sell swap groups or social media groups to see if you can find someone with a tree in your area who's willing to give or trade you some fruit.
Where to get feijoa in Australia
In Australia feijoas are becoming more and more common, partly due to the high number of kiwis who have moved to Australia from New Zealand. Feijoas are planted as street trees in some cities including Melbourne and Sydney. Its worth asking around your local buy, sell swap groups, social media and community notice boards to see if anyone has some trees in your area. This is certainly the most economical way of getting hold of some feijoa fruit.
You can also find feijoas at some markets during feijoa season. At the time of writing there are few feijoa farms in Australia such as Feijoa Addiction in Brisbane Australia (postage available), Adelaide Hills Feijoas (collection from farm only). Know of any others? Let me know in the comments and I'll update the post!
Are feijoas good for you?
Feijoas are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. They are best in enjoyed in moderation, if you 'smash' too many feijoas in one session you can end up with a fiber overload.
What do feijoas taste like?
Feijoas have a very distinctive flavor that's hard to describe. They sort of taste like a cross between pineapple, apple and mint hence pineapple guavas. But not really, and more tangy.
How to eat feijoa
To eat feijoa simply slice them lengthways top to bottom, and not straight across the longest part and you instinctively might do. Cutting the feijoas open lengthways allows you to scoop out the flesh more easily and get the tangy pulp. If you get tired of eating fresh fruit you can of course use them to make a variety of delicious recipes, everything from chutney and muffins to cheesecake and syrups.
Can you eat feijoa skins?
You can eat feijoa skins, but it's not recommended to eat them raw as they taste rather bitter. The skin is where a lot of the feijoa flavor and perfume is, so it can be added to cooked feijoa dishes in moderation to amp up the feijoa flavor. Interesting feijoa flower petals are also edible and make a pretty addition to salads.
What to make with feijoas
Feijoas are a surprisingly versatile fruit. They work well in savory dishes such as salsas and chutneys, to baking such as a class crumbles and muffins and my husband's favorite, cheesecake! You can even make delicious drinks with the leftover skins, such as easy feijoa fizz. Easy to make by mildly alcoholic so defiantly not child friendly!
How to store feijoas
Feijoas are best eaten fresh when they have dropped from the tree. They can be prone to spoiling really easily, where one bad feijoa can spoil the rest really quickly. If you have space you can lay out newspaper somewhere cool and dry, such as a garage, and lay the fruit out without any of them touching. Alternatively I have keep them on my kitchen bench for up to a week, in containers so that again the individual fruit isn't touching. Check the feijoas every day or so and remove any fruit showing signs of brown spots or going bad immediately.
Feijoas can be preserved in a number of ways. The classic way is to make delicious feijoa chutney or feijoa jam, as per the banging recipes below. Feijoas also freeze well for a year round treat beyond feijoa season.
Feijoas can be stored easily in the freezer for several months. You can put the whole fruit in the freezer and defrost when you want to use them. Alternatively you can scoop the flesh out of the skins and measure them out the correct quality for you favorite recipes, then label and freeze them in batches for a delicious feijoa treat throughout the year.
Recipes for feijoas
Got heaps of feijoas but not sure what to make? Below is a selection of delicious feijoa recipes with everything from savory and baking, to ice cream and drinks. Read on for some mouth-watering inspiration.
Savory feijoa recipes
Other than chutney baking is probably the most classic way of using feijoas. Here you will find classic feijoa muffins and a delicious feijoa loaf that are not too sweet. The feijoa loaf is a great option if you're not a huge fan of feijoas (crazy people, but they do exist :D) as it only has a mild feijoa taste.
If you are hungry for something to satisfy your sweet tooth look no further than this fabulous collection of feijoa desserts. There is something for everyone here, from class feijoa crumble and feijoa cake, to more unusual feijoa ice cream and our personal favorite, feijoa cheesecake!
So much of that distinctive flavor and perfume can be found in the feijoa skins. If you have more feijoas than you know what to do with you can use whole feijoas to make fabulous feijoa syrup. A great refreshing option on a warm or not-so-warm day.
You can get also get multiple uses from the same batch of feijoas by using the leftover skins from any of these other recipes to make an easy feijoa fizz. It takes a few days to make, but most of that is leaving it alone to let the natural yeasts in the feijoa skins do their thing. With very little effort before you know it you'll be knocking back a batch of you're very own fizz. It's kind of like a mild feijoa cider and very delicious!
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about feijoas, what they taste like, where to get them and a choice selection of feijoa recipes.
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