Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All About Feijoa

Origin of Feijoa
Feijoa is native to Uruguay, northern Argentina, western Paraguay, and southern Brazil’s highlands. Today, it is grown in Australia, South Africa, Azerbaijan, parts of the US, Russia, the Mediterranean regions of Europe, and India.

A German botanist anointed feijoa after a Portuguese explorer, Joao de Silva Feijo. Much to the disappointment of his sponsor, Feijo was initially appointed to exploit the sulfur mines of Cape Verde but he preferred to spend his time chasing butterflies, collecting seashells and plucking flowers. Feijo’s fame was posthumous, as evident by the fact that his manuscripts were rescued out of a Brazilian bakery that was using his documents as wrapping paper.

As explained by the World Agro Forestry Centre, feijoas first appeared in Europe around 1887 in Switzerland, and spread to France by 1890. According to Robert Paull’s book, “Tropical Fruits,” guava species came to India by way of Portuguese explorers. It was they who brought the fruit to its soils from the Philippines. Guavas, with their prolific seeds, grew quickly and easily in India.

Today, the fruits grow in Portugal, the Mediterranean, France, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, North Africa, throughout South America, the Caribbean islands, and the Caucasian region of Russia. New Zealand likely dedicates the greatest efforts to the fruit’s cultivation and production. In fact, the country has its own New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association.


Feijoa grows best in regions with low humidity and a subtropical climate. In India, feijoas grow alongside other guava cultivars, such as the chittidar variety in Uttar Pradesh and the harijha in Bihar. Feijoas also grow in the Kodaikanal hills and the Nilgiri station hills in south India.

Guava seller in Uttar Pradesh
post-flood season

Where to find Feijoas in India
Though guavas are available year-round except for a few weeks in the summer, feijoas are highly perishable and bruise easily. Thus, they are not always available outside of the regions in which they grow. Feijoa’s turnover is both rapid and sporadic.

The best place to find cheap, fresh feijoas in India is roadside stalls and small markets near guava groves when in season. Uttar Pradesh in particular is renowned for its guavas.

Checking for Ripeness in Feijoa
Feijoas are green when unripe, and turn yellowish green as they ripen. An unripe feijoa core’s flesh is white and opaque, and turns gelatinous and creamy when ready for consumption. As it nears spoiling, the flesh becomes brown but may still be edible. Select guavas that gently yield to the touch.

Feijoas are beautifully aromatic when ripe. Like other guava varieties, they too emit a musky, sweet, strong and unique fragrance. This scent grows stronger as it nears peak ripeness.

The surest indicator of ripeness is when the feijoa fall from the tree. Because of its high perishability, however, these fruits must be collected from the ground within a day or two. Avoid the fruits with obvious marks, blemishes and cuts.

Note: an overripe feijoa will rot internally before becoming apparent externally. Thus, consume feijoa within a day or two if its ripeness is evident.

Ripe feijoa

Storing Feijoas
Feijoas have a short shelf life in humid, hot temperatures, but will keep for a month in cool storage.

Frozen feijoa pulp lasts up to a year. To freeze, halve the fruits and scoop out the flesh. Transfer to a vacuum-sealed baggie. Or, place the flesh in ice cube trays and use in frozen alcoholic beverages, smoothies, or juices.

Feijoas are best enjoyed at room temperature, as the subtle notes of the fruit disappear when chilled.

Perfectly ripe feijoas

Taste of Feijoa
The taste of ripe feijoa is a mélange of pineapple, papaya, lemon, strawberry and guava. Its other moniker, pineapple guava, comes from its similarity in taste. Feijoas also possesses minty, wintergreen overtones.

The flesh’s taste and texture varies: near the skin, it is granular like a pear. Near the center of the fruit, the flesh is sweeter, custardy, watery and jelly-like. Some cite that the fruit bears an unpalatable medicinal taste.  Such is usually the case if it was a wild fruit or came from a poorly maintained shrub.

Though the thin green skin may be bitter and unpleasant, it is nonetheless edible. Unlike other guava varieties with rock hard seeds, feijoa has 20 to 40 small yet edible seeds. Some spit these out, but they are seldom removed when the flesh is called for in recipes.

Nutritional Value of Feijoa
According to the USDA nutrient database, 100g of feijoa contains the following values:

2g Fat (3% RDI)
26g Carb (9% RDI)
3g Protein (6% RDI)
49.3mg Vitamin C (82% RDI)
.1mg Riboflavin (5% RDI)
.7mg Niacin (4% RDI)
.1mg Vitamin B6 (6% RDI)
92.3mcg Folate (23% RDI)
.6mg Pantothenic Acid (6% RDI)
41.3 Calcium (4% RDI)
.2mg Iron (1% RDI)
21.9mg Magnesium (5% RDI)
48.6mg Phosphorous (5% RDI)
377mg Potassium (11% RDI)
.1mg Zinc (1% RDI)
.1mg Copper (7% RDI)

.2mg Manganese (10% RDI)

Health Benefits of Feijoa
Feijoas have several traditional medicinal applications, including combatting dysentery and cholera, and acting as a bactericide. Being high in vitamin C, feijoas aid in remedying coughs and colds while boosting the immune system and assisting with oral and bone health.

The medical community has affirmed many of feijoa’s traditional uses:
--A 2012 study published in Pharmaceutical Biology indicates that feijoas have remarkable antioxidant activity.
--Italian researchers published a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food revealing that feijoa extracts have strong antibacterial and antifungal activities, outperforming metronidazole in some cases.
--Die Pharmazie published findings by Egyptian scientists illustrating that the leaf extracts improved bone mineralization
--European scientists published a study in The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology indicating that the fruit possesses anti-cancer properties.

--According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, feijoas have anti-inflammatory compounds.

How to Open and Prepare Feijoas
Open feijoas by cutting the fruits in half and scooping out the flesh with a spoon. If eating out of hand, it’s possible to scrape or bite a small hole in the skin and slurp the gelatinous pulp.

Feijoa’s pulp browns quickly once exposed to oxygen. To maintain its whitish color, sprinkle lemon and limejuice atop the fruit: This will prevent browning.

Feijoa Recipe Ideas and Uses
Feijoas have several culinary applications ranging from succulent desserts to bright, zesty salads. The fruit may also be cooked without losing its sweetness.

--Stir the creamy pulp into yogurts, ice cream, and custards.
--Cut into chunks and add to tropical fruit salads. The fruit pairs well with cut pineapple, papaya, mango, lime, and kiwi.
--Make a guava glaze and add to tofu and baked vegetables: Mix ____
--Substitute guava for mangos in any chutney recipe
--Stew the fruit for a syrupy dessert akin to poached peaches and pears
--Blend feijoa pulp with bananas and nut milk to make tropical milkshake. Also consider freezing the guava pulp before blending it, as this will add a frozen, slushy consistency to the drink.  
--Feijoa goes well in a variety of alcohols; some countries infuse it in vodkas; New Zealanders make ciders from feijoa, and South Asians make wine.
--Make feijoa wine by adding yeast and acids, then fermenting the fruit over the course of three months. It’s recommended to freeze the fruit and de-thaw before brewing as a way to bring out the robust flavors.
--Make feijoa jam using of 4 cups of sugar for every 1kg of fruit. Add water and lemon for additional consistency and flavor.
--Include feijoa chunks in salsa recipes. With the addition of chopped cilantro, onion, black pepper, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, sliced feijoa makes a robust addition to glazed tofu dishes and serves beautifully as a garnish.
--Use feijoa pulp in dessert whip recipes: because the flavor is so pungent, only a small amount of flesh is necessary to create a nice guava flavor
--Freeze and blend fruit in daiquiri recipes
--Dip feijoa slices into chocolate. Garnish with freshly chopped mint to bring out the fruit’s spearmint overtones.
--Make fruit leather by simmering the blended pulp on the stovetop and reducing until the texture is smooth and sweet, stirring every half an hour. Though the process may take half a day of simmering, the chewy, sweet treats will keep for months in an airtight container.

--The flower petals of the feijoa tree are also edible: their crunchiness adds a nice texture to salads and the flavor is sweet with hints of cinnamon. The reddish purple hue of the flower adds gorgeous color to any dish.

Flavor Complements
Fruit: Cattley guava, banana, mango, passion fruit, coconut, pineapple, mango, custard apple, apple (especially green), lime, lemon, orange, pear, kiwi, papaya, asian pear, occidental pear

Vegetables: Cucumber, water chestnut

Herbs, spices, and oil: mint, basil, limejuice, lemon juice, lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint tea, coconut milk, coconut shreds, macadamia nut, cashew, pistachio, rose, vanilla, vodka, rum, honey, maple syrup, salt, pepper, cilantro, bay leaf, vinegar, nut cheese, barbeque, smoky essence, tamarind paste, mustard, ginger, garlic, onion, balsamic vinegar, sherry, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, mace, raisin, chili, chocolate, black tea

Random Fact:
The compound responsible for guava’s strong, musky aroma is ester methyl benzoate.
Other specimens in the Myrtaceae family include guavas, clove, and eucalyptus

Scientific Name:
Feijoa sellowiana
Acca sellowiana

Other Names:
Pineapple guava
Brazilian guava
Fig guava

New Zealand banana

Feijoa pear jam from

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