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The feijoa, or pineapple guava, is a tropical plant native to Brazil. It prefers subtropical zones and will suffer from frost damage. Feijoa is frequently used to make hedges and screens, because it is attractive and relatively fast growing. The fruit is considered subacid, with a pineapple-like flavor that has sweeter notes of strawberry and guava. Feijoa is not commonly found in American grocery stores, although larger grocers with a large selection of exotic fruits may have feijoa in season, which varies depending on the location.
The feijoa bush grows to approximately 15 feet (five meters) and has pale gray bark with greenish gray oblong leaves. The flowers are very flashy, in maroon and white, and make a startling and sweetly scented addition to landscaping. Planted close together and trained, feijoa bushes make an excellent privacy screen or windbreak in temperate zones. Feijoa prefers partial sun, with protection from extreme heat.
The feijoa fruit begins as a green ovoid shape covered in small white hairs. As the fruit matures, it remains greenish or yellow with a faint red tinge, and the hairs will drop off. When cut open, the feijoa reveals white granular flesh and pulp-enclosed seeds. The feijoa fruit also has a rich perfume, which it begins to emit before it is fully ripe.
There are a number of cultivars of feijoa, some of which are grown to produce fruit, while others are designed for landscaping use. The plant is cultivated across Latin America, as well as in Australia and some parts of the United States. In more northern areas of the United States, it is commonly used for landscaping, because the plant itself is frost tolerant, but the fruit is not.
The flowers of the feijoa are also edible, although spicy, and are excellent eaten plain, sprinkled on salads, or used as a garnish. The fruit itself should be peeled before consumption and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning. Feijoa is often used to dress up fruit salads, cooked in puddings, preserved in syrup, or fermented into alcohol. Feijoa is also used to make chutneys and relish, and a syrup extract is commonly used in Latin America to flavor beverages.
Feijoa does not keep well under refrigeration, lasting approximately one week before the quality of the fruit begins to suffer. When searching for the fruit, look for evenly colored, unbruised specimens, which should carry the distinctive sweet perfume. If picked too early, feijoa will not ripen well off the tree, so look for a fairly soft fruit. If exposed to too much warmth and humidity, the fruit will rot under the skin, so be sure to inquire about handling practices at your grocers.
I grow feijoas. please let people know you cannot *pick* the fruit from the bush/tree for harvesting. You must wait until it falls to the ground, that's when they are ripe and ready to eat. Otherwise they will be sour and never really ripen. Also they make excellent jam/jelly, but it does take a lot of them to make a batch.
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