What Is Guava?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

guava

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While guava fruit looks like a large lime or smooth avocado upon first glance, the sweet flesh inside is nothing like these other foods. In fact, guava tastes more like a tropical strawberry-pear blend, and offers eaters not just a flavor to enjoy but a whole lot of vitamin C as well. Find fresh guavas in Florida, Mexico, parts of South America and Central America, or search for this food as a dried and sweet snack. 

What Is Guava?

Originally guava came from hot and humid areas in Mexico, Central America, Northern South America, and the Caribbean. It is indeed a tropical fruit, and throughout these countries, guava gets used in an array of jelly-like desserts, pies, pastries, as a sauce, to glaze meat and serve fresh. Today guava is grown in many other tropical and subtropical climates in areas such as Asia, the United States, and Africa. In the United States, a lot of guava is grown in Florida, where it was introduced as a crop to farmers in the mid-1800s by way of Cuba. 

There are around 30 types of guava in either the white or red category, which includes strawberry guava, cherry guava, Miami red guava, Behat Coconut guava, and apple guava, to name a handful. The pink guava fruits have more water content, fewer seeds, and aren't as sweet as their white counterpart, which is denser and contains more starch. Guava comes in many sizes and is either round or shaped like an avocado. 

How to Cook With Guava

The whole guava fruit is edible and can be eaten like an apple. It can be bitten into whole, served sliced, or, if the outer shell isn't appealing to the eater, the softer fruit can be scooped out. Guava flesh, seeds, and all, get made into smoothies and juice. Because guava has naturally occurring pectin, many countries process the fruit into sweet, dark jellies that get sliced and served with mild white cheese. Guava juice or jelly also works well as a meat marinade, and the natural sugars caramelize when heated on a grill. Guava is also a popular ingredient in many desserts. Usually, it's in the form of a jam or fruit paste and cooked between layers of pastry or cake. On the savory baked good side, try guava in an empanada. 

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What Does It Taste Like? 

Guava tastes like a cross between pineapple and strawberry, with flesh similar to a pear. It's also similar to passion fruit in flavor. Overall, the guava is sweet without being saccharine and has an overall tropical essence. 

Guava Recipes 

Guava is one type of fruit that's great baked into dessert, paired with cheese, glazing meat, and used in sauces. Play around with this sweet fruit to discover a whole world of guava-enhanced meals. 

Where to Buy Guava

Find these fruits fresh in specialty grocery stores around the country. However, if in Florida or nearby, fresh guava can be found in most supermarkets. Another way to source guava is to look for frozen pulp, freeze-dried guava, or dried fruit. It's easier to find the last two items, especially in a health food store, a Latino market, or in high-end stores that specialize in international ingredients and exotic fruits. 

When shopping for guava look for the softest fruit of the bunch, this usually denotes the ripest and sweetest samples. Ripeness can be gauged by gently squeezing the outside of the fruit, and looking at the color, the darker the outside the less ripe it is. 

Storage

Fresh guava that is still dark green can be kept in a room-temperature kitchen in a bowl, or placed in a paper bag to help speed up ripening. Guava that's a lighter green and/or with spots of pink should be eaten right away or kept in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process down. Cut guava can be stored inside a sealed container and will last this way for three or four days in the fridge. Slices of fresh guava can also be frozen and kept for around eight months. 

Nutrition and Benefits 

Guava is one of those natural foods that tastes like dessert and contains a lot of good-for-you nutrients. Guava has vitamins C and A, and potassium, copper, manganese, folate, and fiber. The seeds also offer eaters a tiny dose of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Guava vs. Passion Fruit 

When it comes to tropical fruits, guava and passion fruit tend to get mixed up or used interchangeably. They are not the same, though both are roundish. Passion fruit has a purple-red outer shell that's not edible, though the large dark seeds and flesh are. Guava can be eaten skin and all. Guava also contains a lot more vitamin C, where passion fruit boosts more iron and fiber. Both fruits are grown in parts of South America, as well as California, Florida, and South Africa. While they are both used in fruity cocktails and to enhance cheesecake, passion fruit is actually more tart than guava when eaten raw.

Varieties 

Approximately 30 types of red and white guavas are grown in a variety of sizes, and are either round or oval in shape. The most popular types of white guava on the market include Mexican Cream, Tropical White, Giant Vietnamese, and Pineapple Guava. On the red side, there's Red Malaysian, Ruby-X, and Thai Maroon. There is one yellow-fleshed guava called Detwiler, a cultivar developed in California. Often these guavas get dumbed down into names denoting their flavor profile. For example, strawberry guava, which tastes more like a strawberry, or tart and citrus-tinged lemon guava. No matter the name, all varieties of guava are packed full of pectin, making them great in jams and jellies.

Article Sources
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  1. Guava. Fooddata central, United States Department of Agriculture