Not all feijoas are created equal and with all the new varieties on the market, saying it tastes like a feijoa is like saying a wine tastes like grapes. The chances are if you think you can’t stand feijoas you just haven’t met the right one yet. We tasted 8 feijoas on the trot. Don’t try this at home. Marks were awarded out of 5 for grittiness, astringency, sweetness, perfume and an overall score. Here are the edited highlights:
|Variety & Season||Judges’ Comments||
Marks out of 5
|Unique (early)||Sorry, we found “Unique” a bit average, lacking any definite flavour or aroma. The fruit does ripen early.||
|Apollo (early)||For such a giant of a tree, the fruit lacked true feijoa grit and astringency. Inside its rough skin “Apollo” is just a big old sweetie.||
|Wiki Tu (mid-late)||This diminutive tree packs a huge flavour punch in its fruit. Meaty, sharp, gritty, astringent and sweet, all in perfect balance with a lovely fragrance to boot. Outstanding.||
|Kaiteri (early)||A smooth, mango, guava flavoured fruit. Luscious, very sweet, massive fruit with not a trace of grit or tang. A model modern fruit, “NZ’s next top Feijoa”. If you don’t like feijoas try “Kaiteri”.||
|Anatoki (early)||Smooth skin, smooth flesh, “Anatoki’s” lack of grit pulled it down the rankings and perhaps deserves a recount. Not too sweet with a lovely tangy sharpness. My personal favourite.||
|Opal Star (late)||Another late ripening variety is topping the charts. “Opal Star” had a big, very sharp flavour with medium sweetness and grit. Like “Wiki Tu” it is the meaty Beefsteak of the Feijoa world.||
|Pounamu (early)||If there were a reality show called Extreme Feijoa “Pounamu” would win. Huge flavours but the extreme sweetness of this fruit led to a lack of balance in our opinion. Mind you, it was our 7th, and we weren’t spitting them out.||
|Kakapo (mid)||Another modern sweetie,“Kakapo” is one for the kids with a medium level of grit and tang but loads of sweetness.||
(Unique bottom right)
Judges Note: To rate anything is to invite debate so the judges acknowledge that factors such as thinning, feeding, pruning and climate can alter the sugar levels and flavours of varieties. The judges also acknowledge a slight bias for old school feijoa flavours.
Most of our modern feijoa varieties are the handiwork of Motueka based plant breeder Roy Hart. Here are ten things I learned about feijoas while we sat on his porch talking:
- Feijoas are native to Brazil and Argentina but have grown in NZ since the early 1900’s
- The petals are edible, and birds eat them, pollinating the flowers in the process.
- That classic feijoa grittiness disappears when you bottle them
- Roys own favourite is Pounamu, but he also rates Anatoki (my favourite)
- Even “self-fertile” varieties set much better quality fruit with another variety planted nearby for pollination
- Always buy cutting grown or grafted trees as seedling trees don’t produce fruit true to label
- They start fruiting in their 2nd year, and the crop ripens late February in the North through to late May in the South.
- The tree can withstand -10C frosts; late spring frosts won’t damage flowers and early autumn frosts only damage ripe fruit.
- They take hard pruning very well and can be relocated.
- They are shallow rooted trees that love mulch and a good rich feed of compost and manure each spring.