Fruit of the Month: Pineapple Guava
Pucker up for this tiny, tart fruit that packs in the flavor! The pineapple guava is our fruit of the month and the fruit is beginning to ripen and will continue to be ripe throughout the fall.
Background and History
The pineapple guava is a member of the Myrtle family, which includes allspice, eucalyptus, and clove. The pineapple guava is native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Freidrich Sellow, a German explorer discovered the plant in southern Brazil in 1815. In 1890 the plant was transported from La Plata, Brazil and planted in a garden in France by botanist Dr. Edouard Andre. Today the fruit is known as Feijoa, pineapple guava, Brazilian guava, fig guava, guavasteen, New Zealand banana, and the guayabo del pais.
The pineapple guava was planted with great hopes of being commercially successful, but it is only recently that you are able to find this fruit in the supermarkets. Part of the reason the fruit is not commercially viable is due to the fact that it is difficult to judge the maturity and quality of the fruit based on visual ques.
Types and Characteristics
The pineapple guava is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that is can grow to 15 feet high and 15 feet wide. Also, the plant can be manicured and grown as small container plant, trained or espaliered as a small tree, or grown in close clusters to create a hedge, screen or windbreak.
In the spring the flowers begin to bloom with sugary pink petals that are a true sight to see! The flowers are edible and you can eat them right off the plant or sprinkle them in your salad.
The fruit has a greyish-green skin and amber-colored flesh. The flavor is strong and tart with slight pineapple and papaya undertones. The texture is gritty and is similar to a pear with tiny edible seeds. The fruit is ready to eat when slightly soft and when the jellied sections of the fruit are clear. The fruit is unripe when the sections are white and overripe when the sections are brown.
Harvesting and Storage
The best way to harvest is to allow them to fall from the tree. Shake the tree and gather the fruit from the ground every couple of days. Keep a tarp or large cloth under the tree to catch the fruit as they fall to prevent bruising. The fruit can also be picked when firm and mature and ripen at room temperature. However, the quality will not be as good as when they ripen on the tree. You can tell the fruit is starting to ripen when the fruit has a slight fragrance and the skin gives slightly when touched. Mature fruit can store in the refrigerator for about a week.
Propagating and Care
The plant likes full sun, but can tolerate shade and harsh conditions. The plant can be drought tolerant, but when it is stressed it will begin to drop fruit. Water deeply on a regular basis with special caution during flowering and fruiting periods. To retain moist soil, mulch around the base of the plant.
For more information visit: http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/feijoa.html