Confused about feijoas? I'm not. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year for fresh produce. The figs are finishing, quinces are picked and preserved, olives are not far away from being picked and then along come feijoa. Loved by some and loathed by others, you can't escape from the wafting aroma of ripe and pungent feijoas.
It can be confusing to know which varieties to eat or grow as some are tastier and some are better at growing. It will depend on what you want to do with the end product: eat it raw, preserve it or process it.
Some of the different varieties are anatoki, emini, kakariki, pounamu (yummy), apollo, den's choice, mammoth, opal star and triumph. If you are not sure then you need to taste before you buy.
Ahhhh, you say, you are not allowed to taste before you buy. Well at the Marlborough Farmers' market you can and we encourage all to do so, for the only true way to satisfy the tastebuds is to sample produce fresh.
Also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen, the fruit is usually eaten by cutting it in half, then scooping out the pulp with a spoon. The fruit has a juicy, sweet seed and pulp, and slightly gritty flesh nearer the skin, with the flavour being 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 eaten.
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.
Feijoas also be used as an interesting addition to a fruit smoothie, and can be used to make feijoa wine or cider and feijoa-infused vodka. It is also possible to buy feijoa yoghurt, fruit drinks, jam, and icecream and it is a popular ingredient in chutneys and preserves.
DIGBY'S FEIJOA CHUTNEY
5 cups peeled, diced feijoas
450g brown sugar
4 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 litre vinegar
Peel and chop the onions. Put them in batches in a food processor with raisins and dates and mince.
Put this mixture into a saucepan.
Add remaining ingredients, and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Turn down the heat and simmer hard for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring regularly until thick and syrupy. Ladle mixture into sterilised jars. Be sure they are well sealed.