Turn your feijoas into wine: here's how
It is April and so: feijoa, feijoa, feijoa. Feijoas are my single-minded obsession every year as autumn rolls around.
I have a huge and extremely prolific feijoa tree in my Auckland city garden and using up the crop is a full-time job when they're in season. So much so that I find it hard to think, speak or write about anything else at this time of year – and I have tried all sorts of recipes when it comes to using up the feijoa glut.
But we've been at peak chutney at my place for a while now and there's only so many crumbles you can eat. So last year I tried my hand at making feijoa wine for the first time.
I edit NZ Gardener magazine and we had a feijoa wine recipe sent in by a reader that looked remarkably easy. So easy that, to be frank, I did not hold out particularly high hopes of it. But I made it and, after a few months when it stopped bubbling into the airlock, I bottled it. And then I bravely volunteered to actually drink some of it. I took a sip and turned to my boyfriend Conrad with an expression of such rapt astonishment that he assumed I was faking it in order to get him to try a wine that was in fact undrinkable. But I wasn't. The feijoa wine was delicious – sweet and syrupy, with a pronounced (but not overwhelming) feijoa-y taste.
I have pressed samples on a few dozen people now and the reaction has been almost universally positive (the almost is because I gave a glass to TV3's Paul Henry live on air while talking on his morning show, and the most positive thing he was able to splutter was that it certainly tasted of feijoas). But most of those who try it say it's sweet, smooth and would be perfect with a good strong blue cheese.
Since I published the recipe in NZ Gardener, Hanley Hoffmann, a home winemaker from Waikanae and author of Winemaking Made Easy, has got in touch to suggest adding a teaspoon of pectolase, a pectin-destroying pectolytic enzyme. This would, Hoffmann says, result in a clear and golden wine rather than the slightly clouded wine which I produced. You can buy pectolase, alone with wine yeast, yeast nutrients and campden tablets, online or at a home brew store.
2 campden tablets
8g sachet wine yeast
2 teaspoons yeast nutrients
Scoop out the feijoa flesh and freeze. Thaw, squash and steep in a bucket with 6 litres of boiling water and campden tablets. Cover with a tea towel and stand for three days, stirring occasionally, then strain. Discard solids and pour liquid into a fermenting vessel with an airlock, add wine yeast, yeast nutrients, sugar and 2 litres of cold water. Wait until it stops bubbling, then bottle.
- NZ Gardener