Friday, 22 April 2016

Feijoa Season is here!


Unless you're a New Zealander you might not understand the gloriousness of the start of the Feijoa season. Feijoas are the fruit of the tree officially called Acca Sellowiana and are sweet green nuggets of joy. The feijoa is from the Myrtaceae plant family and is native to Brazil and Uruguay. Feijoas can be considered as either warm climate or subtropical. First introduced into New Zealand in the early 1900's the fruit was small and it was not for another 20 years before new cultivars were imported that were larger with improved flavour. Now in NZ there are many different varieties to choose for whatever kind you like. For me i like my Feijoas big so have planted three varieties: Apollo, Mammoth & Golden Goose. I'm especially looking forward to Golden Goose as its fruits are extra large around 12cm long and up to 200gms!
The fruiting season starts in April and runs through to June. The fruit, maturing in autumn, is green, ellipsoid & about the size of an egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor, which tastes like pineapple, apple and mint. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear, gelatinous seed pulp and a firmer, slightly granular, opaque flesh nearer the skin. The fruit falls to the ground when ripe and at its fullest flavor and is best gathering from the ground, but they may be picked from the tree prior to falling.The fruit pulp resembles the closely related guava, having a gritty texture. Feijoa fruit has a distinctive, potent scent. Another advantage of this tree is the flowers. Over Christmas they have a stunning display of red brush-like flowers. As far as Landscape Value a lot of people plant Feijoas as a hedge or screen as it forms a dense bush especially as a hedge in multiple plantings. It is an ever-green shrub or tree that grows from 1-5 metres in height. It usually will start fruiting in its second year in the ground. The best way to eat them is to cut in half and then run a teaspoon around the edge and scoop out the flesh. You can eat them just as is straight out of the skin or else you could add them in baking, add in a smoothie, over ice-cream or you can even make it into wine. My favourite recipe is Feijoa Crumble & here's the recipe. 

150 g butter, diced
1 cup flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup soft brown sugar

Fruit Base:
20 Feijoas, peeled & diced.
3 Apples, peeled & diced.
1/4 cup Sugar.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. To make the crumble place all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until combined.
3. Place the fruit in a soufflé or baking dish. Sprinkle over the sugar. Top with the crumble mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until crumble is crisp and golden.
4. Serve with Vanilla Ice-cream or Whipped Cream.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Australian Finger Lime

An exciting new plant i acquired in the last year was the Australian Finger Lime. I actually brought two i was so enthused by it. At first look it seems an unappealing thorny & spindly shrub but when it fruits this makes it all worthwhile. Slender, gnarly and filled with tiny, tangy jewels that burst in the mouth, finger limes are as intriguing as they are delicious. Finger Limes are an understory shrub native to the lowland subtropical rainforests of Southern Queensland & New South Wales. They are Microcitrus which are quite different to regular citrus. They have very small leaves & branches loaded with thorns and form dense clouds of foliage.

The finger lime has been recently popularized as gourmet "bush tucker".  Their popularity is mainly due to globular juice vesicles that have been likened to a "Lime Caviar", which can be used as a garnish or added to various recipes. The fresh vesicles have the effect of a burst of effervescent tangy flavour as they are chewed. The fruit juice is acidic and have a similar 
lovely sweet and sour perfume to that of a lime. Marmalade & Pickles are also made from finger lime. The finger lime peel can be dried and used as a flavouring spice. The fruits are cylindrical in shape, up to 12cm long and only about 2-3cm in diameter. 

Growers have developed cultivars which generate finger limes in many different colors ranging from light pink to deep blue-green. Finger lime is thought to have the widest range of color variation within any Citrus species. 

Mine are yet to flower or fruit unfortunately as they're currently too young. Hopefully this year they will start to fruit. In NSW flowering starts in June & extends through to early October, depending on the cultivar. In warm coastal regions trees may also flower sporadically throughout spring and summer. Depending on climate, fruit mature between December and May, with the main harvest period occurring between March and May.


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Calamondin Season.

The Calamondin (Citrus madurensis) is an acid fruit that is most commonly grown in the Philippines.  It is believed to be a natural hybrid of a Kumquat & a Mandarin Orange. It is also sometimes called a Calamansi.  It is an unusual but beautiful tree, its form is upright & columnar, the leaves are small & dense giving the tree a fine textural appearance.  The fruits are small, round, & orange at full maturity ripening around May. The orange flesh is acidic, juicy, and contains a few seeds. Calamondin trees flower and set fruit intermittently throughout the year, adding to the decorative appeal of these trees.  Mine is a variegated form, with yellow & green marbled leaves and striped fruit ripening to faint orange. The fruit have a thin sweet mandarin flavoured skin and a tart sour-mandarin flavoured flesh. Culinary uses are mainly to add a citrus zing to drinks. Other uses are for citrus flavour in baking.

Calamondin Lemonade 

8 Calamondins
2 heaped tsp Caster Sugar
1 Cup Water

1. Muddle & squish all the Calamondins in a glass.
2. Add the Sugar.
3. Fill the glass with Water.
4. Stir well & strain into another glass.