There’s no need to won­der how to cope with the sea­son’s abun­dance

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Fra­grant fei­joas 20

Ire­mem­ber the first time I gath­ered a haul of fei­joas from un­der a friend’s tree. From the out­side they looked per­fect — green and heavy and firm — but when I got them home and cut them open they were brown inside, with a rank odour and foul taste. I was new to fei­joas and I re­ally won­dered what all the fuss was about.

Luck­ily, not long af­ter, some Gis­borne friends in­tro­duced me to the per­fectly ripe fei­joa ex­pe­ri­ence. It was one of those food mo­ments that makes you gasp – the flesh was juicy and trop­i­cally fra­grant, with pretty whorls of lus­cious jel­lied seed pods, sweet yet tart, and ut­terly, ut­terly de­li­cious. It was so good that I got a govern­ment grant to un­der­take a fea­si­bil­ity study into mak­ing fei­joa ice­cream. Un­for­tu­nately this was be­fore com­mer­cial fei­joa pro­duc­tion had prop­erly emerged and the in­con­sis­tency of fruit qual­ity had me stumped. The one thing I did learn was that fei­joas and dairy prod­ucts are a match made in heaven!

Fei­joas drop from the tree at the mo­ment of per­fect ripeness. Try to pluck them off the branches too early and you will be dis­ap­pointed – they will be sour, hard and dry. A light shake of the tree to see which fruit fall is okay, and a catch-net un­der the tree is a good idea.

Collect the fruit every few days and store them in the fridge. They will keep in the fridge for a cou­ple of weeks with­out de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

Over-ripe, the flesh de­vel­ops an un­pleas­ant flavour and odour — in the way that over-ripe av­o­ca­dos do. And, as the fruit ripens from the inside, it can look per­fect from the out­side but once you cut it open may be brown inside.

The best way to as­cer­tain ripeness is to slice the fruit in half — if the five lit­tle whorls of seed pulp have turned to clear jelly with no hint of brown­ing, then the fruit is per­fectly ripe. If they are still hard and dry, it isn’t.

Re­move the skins be­fore eat­ing as they have a strong, al­most tur­pen­tine, flavour. Ei­ther peel the fei­joas or halve them and scoop out the flesh. The flesh ox­i­dises rapidly, so it’s best to have a bowl of lightly acidu­lated wa­ter at hand to place the fruit into as you peel or scoop. If you are plan­ning to use fei­joas in a fruit salad, driz­zle them with a lit­tle lemon or lime juice to pre­vent them from brown­ing (add a lit­tle honey or sugar as de­sired).

Once you’ve eaten your fill straight from the spoon, you’ll be look­ing for ways to use up the rest of your har­vest. This week’s recipes are all de­li­cious ways to make the most of this fra­grant fruit.

Ready in 25 mins Serves 6 6 large fei­joas, halved length­wise

½ cup flaked al­monds

½ cup ground al­monds

2 Tbsp des­ic­cated or shred­ded co­conut

2 Tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla ex­tract

Pre­heat oven to 200C and line an oven tray with bak­ing pa­per. Place fei­joas on pre­pared tray. Com­bine all other in­gre­di­ents and di­vide be­tween the fei­joas. Bake un­til lightly golden (12-15 min­utes). Serve hot or at room tem­per­a­ture, scoop­ing the fruit out of the skins.

Annabel says:

This is such a pretty dessert, and goes well with vanilla ice cream or greek yo­ghurt. The cooked fruit will keep in the fridge for a cou­ple of days.


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