By Dawn M. Swidorski
The guava is a member of the myrtle family and is native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Guavas are now cultivated and naturalized throughout the tropics and subtropics in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Florida and Hawaii.
Guava fruit have a notable fragrance, reminiscent of a musky lemon. Guava is an oval shaped fruit that ranges in size from a small egg to a medium apple. The thin skin may be yellow, red, purple or nearly black and the flesh ranges from a pale yellow to a bright red.
The flesh of the fruit varies in color depending up on the cultivar and may be white, pink, yellow, or red. Guava is sweet and slightly tart, tasting like a cross between a pear and a strawberry. Its texture is firm yet creamy. Each fruit contains numerous tiny, semi-hard edible seeds, concentrated at its center.
Guavas are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, and potassium, copper and manganese. A single common guava fruit contains about four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. The fruit is very good source of phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and cryptoxanthin.
Selection and Storage
Select fruit that gives to gentle pressure and is un-bruised – though a little scarring on the skin surface is normal.
Green, unripe guavas should be stored at room temperature until ripe. Ripe guavas stored at room temperature will spoil quickly; so store those in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Placing the fruit wrapped in a paper with a banana or apple will hasten ripening.
The entire guava is edible though some prefer not to eat the rind and seeds. To be eaten raw, guava needs to be very ripe. Guava is typically sliced lengthwise into 5 or 6 slices and seeds discarded. Guava is a favorite for jellies, preserves, and sauce.