In Season: Guava by Toby Amidor in In Season, December 22, 2009
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Summer fruits have come and gone, and winter has settled in. Why not channel a tropical flavor by picking up some guava? Here’s the lowdown on this fragrant fruit.
What, Where & When?
Guava is from the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), which also includes spices such as clove, cinnamon and allspice. It’s native to South America, but is also grown in California, Florida and Hawaii. You’ll find this cute fruit in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from a small egg to a medium apple. Guava’s thick skin can range from red and yellow to purplish-black; its flesh might be pale yellow or white or even bright red. Depending on the variety, some guavas are filled with hard yellow seeds, while others have no seeds at all. Available from June to March in many markets, they’re quite varied.
One guava contains 37 calories, 3 grams of fiber and more than 200% of your daily vitamin C needs — take that, orange! A guava also has contains many phytochemicals, including flavanoids and carotenoids (a form of vitamin A). The fruit’s leaves are also rich in the flavanoid quercetins, which helps reduce inflammation, and some alternative medicine practitioners extract their essential oils.
What To Do With Guava
If you’ve never eaten a guava, start by munching on a fresh, sweet one. Just slice it into quarters, remove the seeds and peel away the skin — like you would an orange or other thicker-skinned fruit. You can also add them to salads or blend in a smoothie.
You may not find guavas in your local supermarket, but check out Latin markets or specialty stores. Even if they don’t have the raw fruit, you’ll probably find a variety of other products: jams, juices, sauces and syrups especially. While you’re looking, try to find some guava paste, which is a created from guava pulp, sugar, pectin (a type of fiber) and citric acid; try slicing it for a dessert topping with ice cream or eating it as a snack with cheese.
Shopping Tip: Choose fresh guavas that are slightly soft and without spots. Be careful when handling as they bruise easily. Store green ones at room temperature and ripe ones in the fridge. Ripe guavas are highly perishable so eat them within 2 to 3 days.