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Dewy mornings and cold nights bring summer to an end as the glorious season of autumn comes to reign. As well as shorter days and crisper weather, autumn brings with it a Kiwi classic - the sweet, aromatic feijoa. The unmistakable scent and flavour of this delicious fruit is synonymous with the shift in seasons, yet the sheer quantity of fruit hitting backyards at this time of year can be overwhelming and it often goes to waste. The feijoa has a peculiar ripening behaviour - the major stumbling block in the fruit's commercialisation. Feijoas drop from the tree when they are perfectly ripe, and at perfect ripeness the feijoa is a sensational fruit - tropically fragrant, sweet yet tart, juicy and luscious. Ripe fruit should be stored in the fridge and will keep for up to two weeks. Over-ripe fruit can be hard to discern from the outside, but when opened is often discoloured and with an unpleasant turpentine-like flavour.
Feijoas are relatively hardy plants. They cope with frosts and coastal winds but do best in full and well-drained soil. Most people neglect their feijoa bushes, but they will respond to plenty of compost and a little potash in late winter. Plenty of water during dry summer months will be rewarded with plump fruit in autumn. While a light shake of the tree is okay, don’t be tempted to pluck feijoas direct from the branches as you will be disappointed - they will ripen no more and will remain sour, hard and dry. A catch net under the tree is the best way to harvest feijoas, and ideally fruit should be collected daily.
Feijoas are delicious as a dessert in crumbles, cakes and fruit pies, and add spark to fruit salad. While feijoas oxidise rapidly, a dash of honey or lime when serving them fresh will help to retain their colour. Their perfumed flavour goes well with ginger, honey and passionfruit. They are excellent with dairy products such as ice cream, and they make a very good chutney.
These are some of my favourite recipes for feijoas:
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