Feijoa is a fleshy and juicy fruit with a sweet aromatic flavor. It's also known as pineapple guava due to its pineapple-citrusy flavor and guava resemblance. Its high content of vitamin C makes it perfect for keeping off flu and colds.
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What is a Feijoa?
Feijoa (Feijoa sellowiana/Acca sellowiana), also called pineapple guava, Brazilian guava, pineapple guava fruit, fig guavas, or guavasteen, is a lime-green fruit of the guava family (Myrtaceae).
This ellipsoid-shaped fruit is usually small, about the size of an egg, and resembles a guava. There are also large varieties, such as self-fertile mammoth feijoa.
The most common variety grows on a small tree and does well in tropical climates. It has a perfect mixture of sweet and citrusy flavors and tastes more like a pineapple with strawberry and guava undertones.
Feijoa is native to South America, primarily Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Northern Argentina. Currently, the feijoa tree does well in California, Florida, and Texas as a landscape plant because it’s evergreen and only grows about 2-6 meters high.
The History of Feijoa
Feijoa fruit originated from South America in countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. Freidrich Seillow, a German botanist, was the first to collect feijoa in southern Brazil in 1815.
The fruit is named after João da Silva, a renowned Portuguese botanist.
This South American fruit was introduced to other parts of the world, including Europe in the 1890s, North America in the 1900s, and New Zealand in the 1920s. Major commercial producers of this fruit include New Zealand, the USA (Georgia, California), Uruguay, Brazil, France, and Italy.
Despite being a foreign fruit in New Zealand, feijoa has become an integral part of the country. It’s seen as a symbol of joy, compassion, and selflessness since the plants produce in overabundance promoting the spirit of sharing.
A feijoa festival has been introduced in New Zealand to celebrate and promote this seasonal fruit. The one-day festival takes place at the end of March, allowing feijoa lovers to share their favorite recipes. It also includes sharing feijoa products such as wines and spirits.
What Does a Feijoa Taste Like?
Usually, this tropical fruit is eaten ripe since it’s bitter when unripe. It has a characteristic sweet citrusy taste like a pineapple and a distinct perfume aroma.
Some say it tastes like a mixture of pineapple, strawberry, pear, and guava. While the fruit is edible, the skin is a bit bitter, giving the fruit a bitter undertone.
If you don’t like the taste, you can cut the fruit open and scoop the creamy white flesh using a spoon. The flesh is dense with a rough feel that mimics a pear due to its jelly seedlings.
Feijoa is also used in different recipes, especially in making jams and baking giving the food a sweet and citrusy flavor.
How to Tell When Feijoa is Ripe
You can quickly learn to identify a ripe feijoa with these guidelines.
|Color and texture
|The color changes from shiny green to dull green with delicate-looking skin. Also, the texture may look rigid and waxy.
|Smell is the most distinct character of a ripe feijoa. It gives off a sweet, perfumy, or floral aroma absent in unripe fruits.
|While a ripe feijoa should feel firm, it should slightly give in under pressure like a ripe avocado. So if it’s too hard, it’s unripe.
When shopping, look out for the ones with a dull color. But avoid the ones with blemishes since it means they have overstayed.
The stalk is another thing to look out for. The best feijoas should not have a branch. Naturally, feijoas fall from the fruit when they’re mature and ready.
So, if they have stalks, they were cut from the tree before they were ready and may lack the natural sweet taste.
Finally, if the fruit is too soft, it may be overripe or rotten. And when you cut it, the flesh will be yellowish or brownish.
Is Feijoa the Same Thing As Guava?
A feijoa is not the same as a guava. Although they have some similarities, they also have significant differences. Some of the similarities include:
- They’re of the same family.
- Although they take different shapes, they’re equal in size.
Differences Between Guava and Feijoa
|It can be green or yellow, depending on the variety.
|Has a distinct green color.
|It can be cream-white or pink.
|Has cream-white flesh.
|Sweet, crunchy, and gritty.
|Sweet, citrusy, and jelly-like.
|High in vitamins C, B1, Potassium, Folate, and copper.
|Lower vitamin content but is high in fiber.
|Matures in autumn and winter.
|Usually round or apple-shaped
|Oval, oblong, egg-shaped.
Cooking with Feijoa
Feijoa can be used in different recipes, usually baking and jams. But first, you need to prepare the fruit before cooking – Here’s how:
- Select fully ripe fruits and clean them under running water.
- Cut the fruits in halves using a knife and soak them in lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
- Scoop out the flesh using a spoon (like an avocado) and place it in a clean bowl. However, depending on the recipe, you may need to leave the skin on.
- Your feijoa is ready to incorporate into different dishes.
The most common feijoa food uses include using it in salads, puddings, chutneys, cakes, and jams.
In New Zealand (where the fruit is plenty), it’s used as a flavor for yogurts, soft drinks, and ice creams. Also, it’s used in making wines and ciders. In Brazil, it’s used in canned or jellied preserves.
Here are a few fantastic feijoa recipes to try!
Feijoa Jam: Feijoa jam is popular and the best way to preserve them when they’re in plenty. You can add cheese and lemon to enhance flavor and use it with bread and sandwiches.
Feijoa Cake: This involves using feijoa pulp as cakes and muffins frost for a citrusy flavor and moist texture.
Feijoa Ice Cream: This is a perfect snack for those hot days that involve adding frozen feijoas to ice cream.
How to Store Feijoa
Feijoa is a highly perishable fruit once it ripens, as it only lasts 2-3 days at room temperature. So the best way to store it is refrigeration, depending on how soon you’ll use them.
You can store freshly bought feijoas in a fridge for 5-7 days. Ensure the temperatures remain consistent in your fridge at all times. Otherwise, the fruit could go bad. Also, placing them in a porous bag is recommended.
Freezing the fruit is the best way to store it for long-term use. Ideally, you should de-skin and chop the fresh, place them in sizable airtight cups, and freeze them. You can keep frozen feijoa for up to one year.
For puree recipes, you can scoop the fresh and freeze it in ice cubes. You can also freeze whole fruits if you have enough space. However, they may not last as long.
Nutritional Benefits of Feijoa
In addition to its sweet taste, feijoa is a nutrient-dense fruit. Its nutritional and health benefits include:
|It’s an excellent immune booster that prevents infections such as colds. Also, it’s an antioxidant that prevents cell damage by free radicals. The skin has the highest vitamin C content, and eating it with the fruit is more beneficial.
|It promotes healthy cell function and is vital in converting carbohydrates into energy.
|Besides preventing constipation, dietary fiber is good for overall bowel health and blood sugar control.
|Feijoa is rich in potassium, a vital nutrient for the proper function of muscles, nerves, heart health, and blood pressure control.
|Also known as vitamin B9, is vital, especially during pregnancy. It’s also linked to reduced cancer risk.
Where to Purchase Feijoa
Since they’re highly perishable, it’s difficult to find them in most farmers’ markets. They’re readily available in supermarkets and online stores, typically when in season.
Feijoa is a seasonal fruit that matures during autumn and early summer (March-June).