Veggie of the Week - Feijoa
sponsored by Coleman Farms
Since it's been at least a week since we presented a fruit, this week's produce is Feijoa sellowiana, which you'll find in the Farmers' Market as Feijoa or Pineapple Guava. It's neither a pineapple nor a guava (though closely related to the latter), but it is a fruit.
It's looks may not shout "fruit": it's shaped somewhere between a pickling cucumber and a Japanese eggplant, with a slightly bumpy skin reminiscent of the grey-green lino found in buildings at UCSB when they were simply buildings and not Architecture. The odor is something else, though: intense, perfumey and very sweet with just enough acid to forestall cloy and strongly organic as in 'organic solvent'. It could only be fruit, or a synthetic like banana flavoring (which apparently is identical to 'the real thing').
Feijoas, like bananas, can be enjoyed over a wide range of ripeness. At the 'green' end, the flesh is firm and a bit granular, like a barely ripe Bartlett pear, and the flavor has a sharp acid onset, like that of just ripe pineapple, which then develops through quince and rose with elements of citrus and a lingering and very refreshing finish of green apple. As the fruit gets riper the flesh softens and the perfume and flower elements in the taste develop as acid gives way to sugar. The center of the fruit will get very soft and a bit gooey, but still enjoyable, like a bit of really ripe banana.
Feijoa locally tend to be eaten as fresh fruit, either scooped out of the halves with a spoon, peeled and eaten, or eaten directly out of the quartered fruit. They are, however, susceptible to a lot of culinary manipulation. The most obvious, perhaps, is as an element in a fruit salad, where their perfume and special flavor can be quite useful. Another use that comes to mind, particularly for very ripe fruit, is as the base of a condiment: mash or fine dice the fruit, add some white onion, garlic and a bit of chopped ginger root or hot chile, and you've got a raw chutney or salsa that would go with just about anything from eggs on.