By the end of March we'll be gathering up the pretty green fruit and scooping out their exquisite aromatic flesh. The feijoa season extends through till June. By then, if we haven't had our fill of feijoa smoothies, feijoa crumble, and feijoa muffins, we can preserve what's left in chutney or jam, or bag them up for the freezer (feijoas freeze well, with or without their skin).
Since this small South American tree arrived in New Zealand in the 1920's, it's thrived and prospered in what turned out to be an ideal climate. As well, feijoa pests are scarce here, which means feijoas are grown organically, without chemical sprays.
Our warmest summer temperatures generate huge crops of large fruit, while a decent winter chill gives the best fruit set. Although feijoas are more common in North Island gardens, they're increasingly grown in the South, as early fruiting varieties are increasingly available. Feijoa fruit is damaged by frost, but the tree itself is frost hardy down to minus 8°C.
Feijoa 'Kaiteri' is a very early ripening variety, ideal for both cool and warm climates. It has very large (300g) fruit.
Others to ripen early in the season are 'Pounamu', which has dark greenstone coloured skin; 'Apollo', a large partially self-fertile variety; and 'Unique', a popular self-fertile variey well known for its fast, prolific crops.
Most feijoas benefit greatly from cross-pollination, so unless your neighbour has a feijoa tree, it's advisable to plant a pair. Although they flower at the same time, different varieties have different harvest times. Planting two or three different varieties means you will have fruit over a longer season.
Mid-season varieties include 'Kakapo' and 'Wiki Tu', a dwarf tree with huge meaty fruit which keeps well. The later ripening varieties include'Triumph' and 'Opal Star', a dark skinned variety with a delicious rich flavour and a smooth, non-gritty texture.
Feijoas are rich in vitamin C and delicious either raw or cooked ...
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup fine rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 tsp ground ginger
75g butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1 egg beaten
1 cup feijoa flesh
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Mix together the first 5 (dry) ingredients.
Mix together the last 4 (wet) ingredients in a separate bowl.
Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.
Spoon into greased or non-stick muffin pans and bake for 12-15 mins.
With its Pohutukawa-like flowers and incredible productivity, the easy care feijoa tree is so at home in New Zealand it almost seems like a native.