The Feijoa , also known as Pineapple Guava or Guavasteen, is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 1-7 m in height, originating from the highlands of southern Brazil, parts of Colombia, Uruguay and northern Argentina. It has been spotted in Georgia.
Description of fruit and plant
The fruit matures in autumn and is green, ellipsoid-shaped and the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavour. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear jelly-like seed pulp and a firmer, slightly gritty opaque flesh nearer the skin. The fruit drops when ripe, but can be picked from the tree prior to the drop to prevent bruising. This plant is monotypic in its genus. Like the closely-related guava, the fruit pulp has a gritty texture which is utlised in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant.
Feijoa fruit have a distinctive smell. The ester methyl benzoate smells strongly of feijoas and the aroma of the fruit is caused mostly by this and other closely related esters.
German botanist Otto Karl Berg named Feijoa after Joao da Silva Feijo, a Brazilian botanist.
It is a warm-temperate to subtropical plant that will also grow in the tropics but requires some winter chilling to fruit. In the northern hemisphere it has been cultivated as far north as western Scotland but does not fruit every year, as winter temperatures below about -9C will kill the flower buds. Large quantities are grown in New Zealand, where the fruit is a popular garden tree and the fruit is commonly available in season.
Consumption and uses
The fruit is usually eaten by cutting it in half, then scooping out the pulp with a spoon. The fruits have a juicy sweet seed pulp, and slightly gritty flesh nearer the skin. The flavour is aromatic and sweet. If the utensils needed to eat it this way are not available, the feijoa can be torn or bitten in half, and the contents squeezed out and consumed. An alternative is to bite the end off and then tear the fruit in half length ways, exposing a larger surface with less curvature. The teeth can then scrape the pulp out closer to the skin, with less wastage. They can even be eaten whole, with only the junction to the plant cut off. The skin is sour and can be bitter, but provides a nice balance to the sweet pulp. Still, this is a less common method. A feijoa can also be used as an interesting addition to a fruit smoothie, and can be used to make feijoa wine and feijoa infused vodka. It is also possible to buy Feijoa yogurt, fruit drinks, ice-cream, etc. in New Zealand. The Feijoa can also be cooked and used in dishes where one would use stewed fruit.
Fruit maturity is not always apparent from the outside as the fruits remain green until they are overmature or rotting. When the fruits are immature the seed pulp is white and opaque, becoming clear and jelly-like when ripe. Fruits are at their optimum maturity when the seed pulp has turned into a clear jelly with no hint of browning. Once the seed pulp and surrounding flesh start to brown, the fruit is over mature and shouldn't be eaten.
Shipping and sale
Feijoas can be cool-stored for approximately a month and still have a few days of shelf life at optimum eating maturity. Because of the relatively short shelf life store keepers need to be careful to replace older feijoas regularly to ensure high quality. In some countries, feijoas can also be purchased at roadside stalls, often at a lower price.
Some grafted cultivars are self fertile. Most are not, and require a pollenizer. Seedlings may or may not be of usable quality, and may or may not be self fertile. In New Zealand, the pollinators are medium sized birds such as the Silvereye in the cooler parts of the South Island, the blackbird or the Indian myna further North, which feed on the sweet, fleshy petals of the feijoa flower. In some areas where the species has been introduced, it has been unproductive due to lack of pollinators.
In northern California, robins, mockingbirds, starlings, scrub jays, towhees and grey squirrels feast on the petals and can be assumed to be assisting with pollination. Honey bees also visit the flowers.
Fruits of Warm Climates: Feijoa
California Rare Fruit Growers: Feijoa Fruit Facts
New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association Inc.
Photo Gallery of Feijoa - the Pineapple Guava
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Feijoa