The three stages of feijoa season: from anticipation to desperation.

The teaspoon is there for scale. These are good-sized fruit.

We had lunch with friends last week and she of that household was determined to rehome surplus feijoas with us. In vain did I assure her that we have a more than bountiful supply at home, the moment we admired the generous sized fruit from one of her trees, she was loading them into a bag for us. As we left, she spotted more fruit that had fallen and was busily gathering them. “She left no feijoa uncollected” would be an apt epitaph, I decided.

Feijoa sellowiana is native to temperate South America but is probably the home fruit tree most universally grown in this country – sometimes described as either the most democratic or most socialist fruit. This is because once the fruit starts falling, it comes in bucket loads. At the start of the season, enterprising children often bag them and leave them out in an honesty box for passers-by. This is the seasonal phase of feijoa anticipation.

Soon the anticipation morphs into phase two of feijoa abundance. The fruit has a short shelf life and is not suited to transportation so efforts to grow it commercially have generally been less than successful but this rarely matters because it crops so heavily and is so widely grown that there is only a market for the first fruit of the season. During the abundance phase, busy little Squirrel Nutkins around the country are freezing stewed fruit, dehydrating it, baking feijoa muffins and loaves and making feijoa chutney. Newspapers and social media are full of recipes to use up the surplus.

All too soon, a condition best described as feijoa desperation takes hold as our nation reaches the point where you can’t even give the fruit away. This is certainly true in the North Island and the upper South Island. I am not sure how widely grown they are further south but they have a wide climatic range and will grow in most temperate areas.

For those wondering what to do with some feijoas, I can recommend the following recipe which came down my Facebook feed. I failed to note whose recipe it is but I am pretty sure it came from a leading yoghurt supplier – maybe Anchor?

Frozen feijoa yoghurt

1 ½ cups frozen feijoas

2 frozen bananas

1 cup yoghurt

½ tablespoon maple syrup.

Whizz it all up in a food processor or blender.

That is it. That is all you need to do. Eaten straight away, it is like a delicious soft-serve icecream but without the high fat and sugar content. Frozen for two hours, it is more like a firmer icecream. Frozen for longer and it sets rock solid so you need to take it out of the freezer to soften. My advice is to free flow the fruit on a tray, not, as I initially did, freeze them stuck together in a container. It is easier on the food processor.

At least, in our act of culinary appropriation, we have not renamed the feijoa. This is not true of the tamarillo, also from South America, (Solanum betaceum), the kiwifruit from China (actinidia) and the ‘New Zealand cranberry’ which has no relationship at all to actual cranberries but may instead be Myrtus ugni syn Ugni molinae or Psidium littorale – both from South America.

For overseas readers who have not encountered our fruit of NZ socialism, I am not sure how to describe the taste of feijoas. How would you describe the taste of an apple or a pear? A feijoa tastes, fruitily, like a feijoa.

11 thoughts on “The three stages of feijoa season: from anticipation to desperation.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Well that is an interesting recipe, thanks. Baking in the oven seems way easier than monitoring it on the element for a couple of hours. And I am a particular fan of cardamom.

  1. Sue Kopetko

    That was very interesting, Abbie. The fairly rare feijoas I come across here in Canberra I have always thought uninteresting, so have said no on that basis in the past to any surplus offerings. Maybe the climate here makes them less tasty? I will accept any offerings this year, though, to trial your recipe and also hunt up all the other NZ recipes.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      My Canberra daughter misses the abundance of feijoas from her childhood. They are a pretty marginal crop with your cold winters and hot, dry summers. Is your donor picking them off the tree of waiting til they fall? They fall when ripe and then soften up a bit over the next few days.

  2. Paddy Tobin

    Now, I jumped in to read this blog on feijoa for I believe I am one of the very few who grow it here in Ireland. It has fruited reliably for the past twenty years or so but the fruit has almost always been left on the ground and the birds have enjoyed them. Curiosity has brought me to taste them regularly over the years and it is not an objectionable flavour, a bit of a chewing-gum tang to them, but they are so small that they are hardly worth the bother. A yogurt smoothie may be the way to go – but, first a question: do you peel them before using them?

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Ah. A seedling in that case. Named cultivars have been selected for a larger size. Most people cut them in half and scoop out the centre with a teaspoon but yours may need to be peeled if they are too small for that. The soft centre bit is nicer than the slightly gritty flesh overall. Apparently the skins are perfectly edible but with so many here, I only ever eat the insides. Wait til the skin gives a little under pressure – they are not delicious when still rock hard.

      1. Paddy Tobin

        I am going to take note of your recipe and try it in autumn. It should be interesting.

  3. Angela Barlow

    After several years of prepping, we now just freeze them whole, defrost in the microwave, scoop out flesh and have for breakfast with yoghurt and homemade granola. Not so the several bags full of grapes from the same neighbours. My lovely husband de-pipped and freeflow froze them for the same breakfast! We really like our neighbours, but………..

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      When it comes to grapes, I put them through the dejuicer and turn them into grape juice. De-pipping them is just a pain. I haven’t tried freezing feijoas as they are – thanks for the hint.

  4. Kate Ericksen

    I definitely resonate with the 3 stages of feijoas! I was laughing when I read your post. I’m really tough on the pruning of my feijoas, so I don’t get a glut of little feijoas. Unique and Kakapo varieties give much bigger than the Gemini that I also planted 6 years ago in my garden.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      We have come to the conclusion that Unique doesn’t have the best flavour, though it is very reliable and self pollinating. Fardenosa, which comes in after it, has a better flavour. We have 3 large bushes but have planted another three to extend the season – early ones and a late variety.

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