Have you ever roamed the aisles of a Latin American grocery store? When you do, notice how abundant and celebrated the guava fruit is! Guavas can be found fresh or candied, in jams, preserves, and even juices! Guavas are sweet in flavor, which makes them great for stuffing pastries or topping salads. Enjoy guavas at their peak, when they are ripe with a taste somewhere between a strawberry and a pear. And they are not just a sweet treat for your taste buds; guavas boost the body’s immunity with antioxidants and vitamin C. Good for you and tasty too—what more could you ask for?
Guavas are usually slightly oval and fit comfortably in your hand, like an egg or a small apple. There are many variations of guava rind and flesh, so don’t be surprised when roaming the produce aisles. You may find thick-skinned guavas with yellowish-green exteriors and a light red tint, or deeper red guavas with purple hues. The flesh ranges in color from pale yellow to sweet pink or dark red. Some guavas contain numerous tiny seeds, while others are seedless.
The strawberry guava is the most popular commercially grown guava, with a yellowish-green skin and sweet pink flesh that tastes like a combination of pear and strawberry. However, to enjoy the full sweetness, the fruit must be very ripe, otherwise it will be bland.
Fresh guavas are widely available in most US supermarkets during their peak season. In Latin markets, you’ll find many year-round options for canned whole guavas, as well as other guava products such as pastes and juices.
Because of long growing seasons in Mexico and Hawaii, fresh guavas are available throughout the United States from June until March. Guava imports vary throughout Europe, with the summer months usually in short supply of the fruit.
Your touch is the best indicator for choosing the right guava. To determine the peak of ripeness, you want the fruit to “give” in response to a slight squeeze. Ripe guavas have a pleasant, floral fragrance.
Avoid fruit that has blemishes, bruises, or cavities around the stem, as it indicates the fruit has “gone by” or is rotting.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen” These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides.
Guavas do not appear in this ranking. However, guavas have a similar skin to papayas and mangos—two fruits on the EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” safe list—so chances are, guavas are similarly not affected by pesticides.
Store unwashed, loose, ripe guavas in the refrigerator crisper for up to four days. If they need to ripen, let them sit at room temperature until they “give” to slight pressure, then enjoy them right away or place them in the refrigerator.
Alternately, freeze unwashed, ripe guavas in a sealed plastic bag for up to six months.
The entire guava is edible, so wash it completely with a fruit solvent or white vinegar and warm water. Slice, chop, or dice the fruit, rind and all, especially if you’d like to enjoy your guava as a snack or in a salad. You can also slice guavas in half and spoon out the insides.
When using guava in prepared dishes, such as jams, baked goods, grilled meats, or as a filling in empanadas, peel the fruit with a paring knife or peeler. Peeling removes the tougher rind to give dish a more even consistency.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.
B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.
A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin A is involved in the development of rhodopsin, a molecule in the eye that promotes healthy vision. Vitamin A is also responsible for promoting the immune system, cell growth, skin health, and the formation of the heart and lungs as well as other bodily organs.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
A mineral that plays a role in producing collagen and keeping the immune system in proper working order, copper is an essential nutrient needed by the body in small amounts. Copper may also fight against free radicals, helping to delay the aging process. Energy production is also one of the many benefits of this important mineral.
Guavas are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids digestion by helping food move along the digestive tract. Without fiber, you may experience constipation, irregularity, and low energy. High-fiber diets are associated with weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
- Ybor City, a historic neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, hosts an annual fall festival called “Guavaween.” This Halloween event is based on Tampa’s nickname, “The Big Guava,” coined by former newspaper writer Steve Otto.
- On some South Pacific Islands, the guava tree is considered an invasive species, and it’s illegal to plant new trees.
- Guava trees live up to 40 years in the right conditions.