So. When we got home from vacation, guess what we found waiting for us?
A backyard full of pineapple guavas, also known as feijoas, that's what.
When we moved into our house, our landlord told us all about the gigantic tree that shades nearly our entire backyard. Apparently it's the largest pineapple guava tree in the state. You can eat its flowers if you want. When the fruit is ripe, it falls of its own volition. Also, since the tree is getting old, it's getting less productive.
Uh huh. If this is "less productive," I'm a little scared to ask just how many pineapple guavas he and the previous tenants ate.
I think I picked up about 50 to 75 pounds of guavas on the first day.
We ate a few out of hand. You eat a pineapple guava by cutting or ripping it in half, then scooping or sucking out the insides.
The inside of the fruit is quite a bit lighter than a regular pink-fleshed guava, but it's very juicy, with a jellylike texture in the middle and a grainy pear texture toward the skin (which is technically edible, but bitter). Pineapple guavas taste vaguely tropical, sort of like a more floral kiwi.
They're also super-fragrant. We literally could not keep this many of them in our house after a few days of increasingly cloying scent. An excellent argument for cleaning out the refrigerator, I guess.
So, what do you do with pineapple guavas? You make jam, for one thing. Well, that's great, but since we've previously established that John and I practically never eat jam, it doesn't seem like the best idea. You can evidently also make guava cheese, a solidified block of guava resembling quince paste, to eat with cheese and crackers or just on its own.
One of my friends suggested drying the guavas, which I will probably do later this week. This is definitely an occasion on which I wish I'd spent some time making an insect-proof outdoor dehydrator, so I could just cut them all up and leave them out in the sun for a few days. But since I don't have one, and the ants and slugs in our yard LOVE the small percentage of cracked or split guavas in the yard, sun-drying sounds like a recipe for infestation. Instead, I'm going to give it a shot in an ordinary (although really low) oven.
In the meantime, I turned to the easiest and quickest way of preserving the pineapple guavas: I made them into schnapps.
I can't say I found any pineapple guava schnapps recipes to follow, shockingly enough, so I just loosely modeled my process on the techniques at danish-schnapps-recipes.com. I washed and halved a bunch of pineapple guavas, filled quart jars to about 2/3 full, and then filled the remaining space in each with vodka. After agitating the jars every day for three days (during which the guavas turned a bizarre pickle color), I strained out the fruit through a regular strainer, then restrained through a fine-mesh nylon sieve to remove leftover particulates.
Voila! The resulting schnapps clearly needs some time to age, but that's no surprise.
Now all we have to do is figure out what to do with the remaining 200 to 300 pounds of guavas still on the tree...