If you have traveled in tropical areas, you might have seen the growing trees of the guava.
Although its origin is uncertain, the guava fruit is believed to have traveled from the southern Mexico into, or through Central America in the early 1500s.
Today guava can be found in warm tropical areas all over the world. Guava tends to grow in both humid and dry areas, but is sensitive to frost. Therefore, in the United States the fruit is primarily grown in Florida, Hawaii, and the Californian coast.
Guava trees or shrubs are small only reaching 33 ft; however many trees in California rarely reach over 10 to 12 feet. The stem has a smooth green or reddish brown bark, and its branches spread close to the ground covered with oval oblong leaves 2 to 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide.
During the flowering season, normally in the spring, the tree blooms with 1 inch wide white flowers. Once pollinated, the flowers develop into its popular fruit. The fruits can be 2 to 4 inches long and are either pear shaped or round, with varying quantities of edible seeds.
Good varieties of guava fruit are soft when ripe and are creamy in texture with an edible rind. Its flesh color varies from white, pink, yellow, or red, and its odor is musky and pungent. Guavas should not be refrigerated unless overripe, but should be stored at room temperature. The taste of the guava is often described as a combination of pears and strawberries.
Guava Nutrition Information
The guava is a good source of several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, carotenoids (vitamin A), and folate. It is also a good source of fiber, which is known to help prevent gastrointestinal cancers as well as lowering cholesterol levels. In addition, the level of vitamin C in the edible rind of the guava is five times higher than that of an orange.
Availability of Guava Fruit
Fruit matures almost year round, with the peak season during the summer months.
Selecting Guava Fruit
Ripe guavas have a fragrant aroma that ranges from strong and penetrating to mild and pleasant; shells give to gentle pressure. Guavas sold in markets are usually quite firm and should be ripened further at home before using. The fruit ranges from thin-shelled with many seeds embedded in a firm pulp to thick-shelled with a few seeds. The flavor ranges from sweet to highly acidic.
Storing Guava Fruit
Ripen guavas at room temperature until they give to gentle pressure. Refrigerate ripe guavas immediately, and use within 2 days.
Freezing Guava Fruit
Use firm, ripe guava. Wash, peel thinly, and cut in half. With a teaspoon, scoop out seeds and soft pulp. Pack into moisture and vapor proof containers and cover with a medium syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water). Do not heat; the sugar will dissolve without heat if stirred. Allow 2 cups of syrup for each quart of guavas. Seal and freeze. Lime juice may be added if guavas are sweet. Guavas will keep at 0 degrees F for 8 months to 1 year.
Uses for Guava Fruit
Sweet or low acid guava is best suited to eating raw. Sour or highly acid guava lends itself to cooking or freezing with some sugar added. (1 fruit equals 100 grams (edible portion), approximately one-half cup.) Tropicals may vary in natural pectin, acid and sugar content from one season to another due to the variations of the climate.
Serving Guava Fruit
- Cut guava in half crosswise. Remove seeds. Fill these guava "shells" with cottage cheese and serve on lettuce leaves.
- Combine guava chunks with sliced bananas and citrus sections for fruit cups. Your favorite frozen fruit salad will take on added flavor when guavas are included; use them as you would peaches or fruit cocktail.
- Substitute guava chunks for apples in a brown betty recipe.
- Use guava in a cobbler or deep dish pie recipe. Serve plain or topped with low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.
- Try guava shortcake (made like strawberry shortcake).
- Tapioca pudding becomes a tropical treat when topped with guava sauce or chopped guava shells.
- Add a tropical flavor to any punch by adding guava juice or guava nectar.
Buy it - or make your own!
Wash firm ripe guavas. Cut off stem and blossom ends. Slice the guava into a large sauce pan. Add 2 cups water to 2 quarts of sliced fruit. Cover and cook until soft. Put this through a sieve to remove seeds. Add water until puree is thin enough to drink. Sweeten with one-half cup sugar to each quart of nectar.
Serve cold with equal parts of limeade or gingerale, or try it over a scoop of vanilla ice milk in a tall glass.
To freeze guava nectar, place in moisture and vapor proof containers, allowing a 1-inch headspace for expansion. This will keep up to a year at 0 degrees F.
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