The drought in Auckland has broken. Not only rain is falling in our suburban garden it’s also raining feijoa. What a treat for a southerner!
Feijoa is perfumed, sweet and a tart fruit all in one.
To ensure the fruit is at its maximum flavour you need to wait until they fall, but this does mean they only last for a precious few days once they hit the ground. Feijoa do bruise so you need to handle them as you would a peach.
The best way to eat a feijoa is raw, cut in half and scooped out with a spoon. The juicy sweet seed centre is a different texture to the outer part of the fruit. The outer edge can be tart and usually has a grainy texture, especially when not at full ripeness.
You too may have this fruit in abundance or have been given a bagfull and are looking for fresh ideas on how to use them.
Here are three of my feijoa favourites….
Feijoa Sorbet with Ginger
|Feijoa Sorbet has an ever so slight pink tinge and is an
excellent light dessert after a filling main course.
This is a mix of two recipes I found. One using egg white and the other using ginger beer. In the Sorbet world there is a debate over whether you should add egg white or not, as some feel the egg white can flatten the flavour of the fruit. My home kitchen taste panel voted the egg white version the best for Feijoa because it produced a sorbet more like a gelato ice cream.
First bring the sugar, water and ginger to the boil for 3-4 minutes. Turn off and allow to cool slightly.
While the syrup is cooking and cooling, puree the scooped Feijoa flesh. To make 250 ml of pulp that is strained you will need to make about one quarter to a third more puree as the grainy flesh stays behind in the sieving process.
The first time I tried this recipe it was for a dinner party and I thought I had a disaster on my hands at this stage of the process. The egg white just floated. I tipped it into my ice cream container, put it in the freezer in the hope that when I got it out the next morning the egg white would behave.
|Left is the rather ugly first night freeze of the sorbet, centre the kitchen stick blender in action
and right is the finished sorbet to go back in the freezer.
Feijoa are from the Myrtle family. You can see
the family resemblance to our native Pohutakawa!
You can use the flower stamens in salads and they taste cinnamon-like. I am keen to try this next spring.
|The Red Cherry Guava and Feijoa – both have a similar
shaped flower stalk
I don’t have particularly fond childhood memories of guavas. Mum would buy tinned guavas as a treat from the tropics. The large pale pink seedy fruits were never very appealing.
But I was introduced to the Red Cherry Guava in our garden by friends Jules and Ruud, ex Aucklanders now living in Christchurch. With nostalgia for the flavours of the north they pounced on the few that were ripe and we realised we had a treat ahead for us.
The Red Cherry Guava is the size of a marble or a small crab apple. It has a dull red thick skin and like Feijoa they are packed with vitamin C with most of the vitamin C being in the skin. Guavas are related to the Feijoa and have that same perfumed sweet flavour.
Down south I would make crab apple or hawthorn and apple jelly. I decided this year I would make a jelly more fitting for Auckland – Feijoa and Guava Jelly.
|I used about half a bucket of Feijoa and around 1 kilo
of Red Cherry Guava.
|To make your own jelly bag simply sew up a piece of cotton muslin
to the size of a pillowcase. It’s something you will have for years.
Once the fruit is soft it’s time to extract the liquid to make the jelly. I sit the jelly bag inside a large bowl, pour in the contents of the pot, and slowly lift the bag and tie to a stick or broom handle that sits between to chairs. Leave it hanging for 24 hrs and don’t let anyone squeeze the bag!
|Notice that the jelly has a layer of scum. This disapates with the addition
of a nob of butter and a stir after you take it off the heat.
Most jelly recipes say one cup of sugar to one cup of liquid. I like my jelly to have a real tang and reducing the sugar even a little is a good thing. I use the same formula as for marmalade. 3/4 cup of sugar to a cup of liquid plus an extra half cup. So for my 11 cups of juice I needed 8 1/4 cups of sugar. I rounded the measurement up to 9 cups of sugar to 11 cups of juice. You do need sugar for preserving and setting so it is a balancing act.
Heat the liquid and then add the sugar, stirring until all sugar is dissolved, to avoid sticking on the bottom. Get the jelly up to a rolling boil and continue to boil until the jelly shows signs of setting.
As I was unsure of the pectin content (pectin in fruit ensures the jelly or jam sets) in Feijoa and guava I was preparing myself for the jelly not setting. It seemed like ages it was boiling and it wasn’t setting so I added the juice of a lemon. Lemon assists in the setting because it is high in pectin.
To test the set I find the best way is to place saucers into the freezer prior to making the jelly and spoon a little onto the really cold plate. If you blow on it and a skin wrinkles on the top or when you push with your finger and the liquid doesnt close up behind, then you have jelly.
It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t set first time. You just re-boil with added sugar. I wanted a soft set jelly with plenty of wobble. It wasn’t setting in the saucer but it was starting to jelly on the wooden spoon so I took a risk and poured it into clean hot jars that I had sterilizing in the oven at 150 degrees.
|Place the hot jars on a wooden board as the wood will avoid
jars cracking that may occur with a contrast of heat on a metal surface.
I had to wait until the next morning to see if my jelly had set…and yes it had! A lovely rich red wobbly jelly. I made a batch of scones for the home taste panel and everyone who partook loved the jelly.
For those of you down south I imagine it will be too late now to make Hawthorn jelly but in Central Otago the rosehips will be ready to pick after a couple of frosts. The frost increases the sweetness of the hips. As collecting rosehips is a prickly and time consuming business I suggest adding apples to bulk out the fruit.
|Rosehips growing along the Central Otago Rail trail|