Real Food Encyclopedia | Guavas
For those who live in seasonal climates, guava might be part of a tropical selection laid out for a vacation brunch, only to be enjoyed during those few blissful days away. For others in warmer areas, however, the guava is the weed that will not die, choking out other crops, regenerating no matter how often it is slain.
Although it is believed to be native to Southern Mexico, Central America and the Amazon Basin, guava’s irresistible fruit (and edible seeds) have helped it spread via man, bird and animal to all tropical areas of the globe. Because they can propagate by seed, guava trees pop up in the paths of migratory animals that leave a trail of seeds and natural fertilizer in their wake. Early visitors to these areas transported guava seeds to other tropical areas including Asia, Africa, India and the Pacific Islands.
In the United States, guava grows prolifically in Florida, Hawai’i and some areas of California.
Guava is most cherished in Latin America where it plays a major role in the cuisines there. It can be found in juice and sauces and is eaten raw and cooked. It is most popularly served as goiabada, a guava jelly or paste, served at the breakfast table and as dessert.
Fun Facts about Guavas:
- Guava is part of the myrtle family, which also includes cloves, allspice and eucalyptus.
- The guayabera, a four pocket, button down shirt popular in parts of Latin America, gets its name from the guava.
What to Look for When Buying Guavas
Select guavas that are smooth-skinned with a bit of give and heavy for their size. Unripe fruit is tannic but will ripen if left on the counter for a day or so.
Sustainability of Guavas
Although they fruit best when they have access to water, guava trees are extremely drought-tolerant. They are susceptible to pest infestation but chemical free measures, such as netting or bagging the fruit, are often effective prophylactics. When shopping for guavas or guava products, choose organic options to avoid exposure to potentially toxic agricultural applications.
Guavas are the trees that keep on giving. They can fruit all year long in warm areas. Their harvest will fluctuate, however, with the weather.
Green fruit can be stored for two to five weeks in the refrigerator. Fully ripened fruit is best eaten within several days of harvest.
Cooking with Guavas
Guavas are good for you! They are extraordinarily rich in Vitamin C, containing four times as much as oranges. They contain lycopene and antioxidants, are rich in manganese and folate, and have as much potassium as a banana.