I remember tasting my first Feijoa when one of the guys at University brought a bag of them on a class field trip. I was dazzled by these delicious little fruits and I can tell you that the bag of them did not last long! Feijoas, also known as Pineapple Guavas or Guavasteen, are native to Southern Brazil and Northern Argentina. You could be forgiven for assuming they are also native to New Zealand due to the way they are commercially grown there in the cool climate.
Feijoa is a species of the Myrtaceae family and are a slow growing shrub to about 3 – 4 metres. The leathery leaves are a grey green on top and white underneath. The elongated pear shaped fruit is about 5 – 10 cms long with a blue green waxy skin with a soft fruity flesh and a pulpy centre with tiny edible seeds.
Feijoas do best in a richly composted and well-drained soil with ample water in the summer to develop the fruit. If the bush gets too dry the fruit often fall off before they develop. Full sun is best but fruit will still grow in part shade.
Feijoa plants make excellent garden screens or windbreaks and can even be espaliered. They are very hardy against pests and diseases with the fruit fly being the only real pest when the fruit ripens. The red and white flowers are quite stunning and the petals can be used in sweets and drinks. Once the fruit are ripe they simply drop off the bush, fresh and ready to eat.
The flower petals are edible, with a flavour that is slightly sweet with hints of cinnamon. The most common use is as an addition to salads. They regularly are consumed by birds.
Feijoa varieties such as Mammoth, Triumph and Nazematze are popular in Australia and take about 3 years to start fruiting. Planting a couple of different varieties will definitely increase the yield and quality of the fruit. The flavour of the fruit can be described as a tangy fruit salad. These power packed little fruit are very high in Vitamin C and dietry fibre as well as containing B6, Potassium and Magnesium. Feijoas are used widely in cooking from jams, chutneys, cakes and puddings as well as a potent feijoa wine. However, I enjoy just eating them fresh with a teaspoon as a healthy, yummy snack