Not all feijoas are created equal and with all the new varieties on the market, saying it tastes like a feijoa is like saying a wine tastes like grapes. The chances are if you think you can’t stand feijoas you just haven’t met the right one yet. We tasted 8 feijoas on the trot.
Don’t try this at home. Marks were awarded out of 5 for grittiness, astringency, sweetness, perfume and an overall score. Here are the edited highlights:
|Variety & Season||Judges’ Comments||
Marks out of 5
|Unique (early)||Sorry, we found “Unique” a bit average, lacking any definite flavour or aroma. The fruit does ripen early.||
|Apollo (early)||For such a giant of a tree, the fruit lacked true feijoa grit and astringency. Inside its rough skin “Apollo” is just a big old sweetie.||
|Wiki Tu (mid-late)||This diminutive tree packs a huge flavour punch in its fruit. Meaty, sharp, gritty, astringent and sweet, all in perfect balance with a lovely fragrance to boot. Outstanding.||
|Kaiteri (early)||A smooth, mango, guava flavoured fruit. Luscious, very sweet, massive fruit with not a trace of grit or tang. A model modern fruit, “NZ’s next top Feijoa”. If you don’t like feijoas try “Kaiteri”.||
|Anatoki (early)||Smooth skin, smooth flesh, “Anatoki’s” lack of grit pulled it down the rankings and perhaps deserves a recount. Not too sweet with a lovely tangy sharpness. My personal favourite.||
|Opal Star (late)||Another late ripening variety is topping the charts. “Opal Star” had a big, very sharp flavour with medium sweetness and grit. Like “Wiki Tu” it is the meaty Beefsteak of the Feijoa world.||
|Pounamu (early)||If there were a reality show called Extreme Feijoa “Pounamu” would win. Huge flavours but the extreme sweetness of this fruit led to a lack of balance in our opinion. Mind you, it was our 7th, and we weren’t spitting them out.||
|Kakapo (mid)||Another modern sweetie,“Kakapo” is one for the kids with a medium level of grit and tang but loads of sweetness.||
Judges Note: To rate anything is to invite debate so the judges acknowledge that factors such as thinning, feeding, pruning and climate can alter the sugar levels and flavours of varieties. The judges also acknowledge a slight bias for old school feijoa flavours.
Most of our modern feijoa varieties are the handiwork of Motueka based plant breeder Roy Hart. Here are ten things I learned about feijoas while we sat on his porch talking:
- Feijoas are native to Brazil and Argentina but have grown in NZ since the early 1900’s
- The petals are edible, and birds eat them, pollinating the flowers in the process.
- That classic feijoa grittiness disappears when you bottle them
- Roys own favourite is Pounamu, but he also rates Anatoki (my favourite)
- Even “self-fertile” varieties set much better quality fruit with another variety planted nearby for pollination
- Always buy cutting grown or grafted trees as seedling trees don’t produce fruit true to label
- They start fruiting in their 2nd year, and the crop ripens late February in the North through to late May in the South.
- The tree can withstand -10C frosts; late spring frosts won’t damage flowers and early autumn frosts only damage ripe fruit.
- They take hard pruning very well and can be relocated.
- They are shallow-rooted trees that love mulch and a good rich feed of compost and manure each spring.
No mention of Ahart or Kakariki.
Thank you so much for publishing this. The extended family are now having a Feijoa competition. Wiki Tu has joined our existing Feijoa collection, and I’m so excited to try it in a few years. Sky high expectations.
As a thank you here’s one of my favorite Feijoa recipesFeijoia Chutney
Source: Digby Law. He died tragically early of HIV/Aids in 1987, aged just 51
500g pitted dates
500g brown sugar
1 tblspn ground ginger
1 tblspn curry powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp salt
4 cups malt vinegar
Wipe Feijoia, trim ends, finely chopped skin and all.
Finely chopped onions
Coarsely chop Raisins and dates
Combine, bring to boil and cook gently 1.5-2hrs until thick. Make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom
Seal in jars. Makes 3L.
How to prepare glass jars for filling with jam, chutney and relish by heating them in the oven so the contents don’t spoil.
Wash your jars and the lids in hot soapy water, but do not dry them. Instead, leave them to stand upside down on a roasting tray while they’re still wet.
Pop the tray of clean, wet jars and lids in to a preheated oven at 160-180ºC for about 15 mins.
Ladle the hot preserve into a heatproof jug to make it easier to transfer the mixture into the hot jars. Be very careful not to touch or get any of the mixture onto the rim of the jars as this could introduce bacteria.
Ideally you want to fill the jars not quite to the top, leave about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) gap at the top between the preserve and the lid.
While everything is still hot, cover the jars with their lids or top with wax paper and a piece of cellophane secured tightly with an elastic band.
Once in sterilised jars like this your preserves should keep for about 6 months in a cool, dark place, but do check the recipe you’re using for a more accurate shelf life as some preserves will last longer than others.
Country Trading Co. replied:
Thank you for the feedback and the recipe. I hope WikiTu lives up to expectations. I’ve got several of Digby’s books. He had some great recipes for sure. Heather
Gritty feijoas is a must..its all part of the feijoa experience, like crisp apples, and juicy plums.