The Great Feijoa Roundup

I’m gonna scrawl “Told ya so!” with a marking pen across the belly of my Bernie Sanders tee shirt.


It’s that time of year, and the feijoas are ripening all over the Bay Area.  Yes, i sense your excitement at this news even as i admit that for the first sixty years of my life i was unaware of their existence.

I first saw them at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, where the vendor pronounced their name as if it were Spanish, and i faithfully followed this pronunciation until some years later i discovered that they were Brazilian and came up with what i thought was a Portuguese pronunciation and promulgated it until i looked more closely and corrected it to FEE- j (as in French “Jean”) oa (as a diphthong).  On the other hand, you can just call them the American popular name “Pineapple Guava” even though they taste about as much like a pineapple as a pineapple does an apple.  On the other hand, they do look somewhat like a miniature guava, which is in a genus in the same family, Myrtaceaea.

Even though the trees are widely grown in California as an ornamental, the fruit is not all that popular since it has a strong flavor that many folks find a little too “different”.  A good friend had a tree in her yard as a kid and tells me that the primary use they made of the fruit was to chunk them at each other.  On the other hand, the Kiwis (the people) are wild about them, and i’ve discovered that they’re excellent for chutney.

My friend Joy has some friends named Karen and Charlie who live in a house on an enormous lot in the western Haight that used to be a nursery and which they’ve turned into a botanical garden.  One of the trees is a feijoa, and when they asked her if she could use the fruit, she called me and set up a meeting with them.

One of the characteristics of this tree is that when the fruit are at their best, they fall to the ground so you can easily gather them.  The down side is that once they’ve fallen, they rapidly progress to overripe and then rotten, so you have to pick them up daily and refrigerate them if you’re not using them immediately.  When Joy and i got there, they had a bag half full of the previous two days’ worth, and we gathered the newly fallen ones, Karen assisting the tree by grabbing low-hanging branches and shaking them vigorously.

Took ’em home and made a batch of Feijoa Chutney out of ’em with Joy as my assistant so she could see how i did it.  A couple of days later, Joy and i went back for more, and i made a second batch all by myself.

They’re excellent for chutney since you can throw the small ones in whole and halve the larger ones, the small ones being tough enough that they’ll hold their integrity against the long boiling down to keep the chutney from turning into a homogeneous mush.  These didn’t and thus made good chutney.


Meanwhile, a fine example of California’s aptitude for self parody.

Sustainable varietal firewood

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  1. David Ogden
    Posted 1 November 2018 at 08:59 | Permalink

    Would like a sample of that chutney.

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