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Guava: Kitchen Basics


GuavaServe guava slices on pancakes or waffles in the morning. In the evening, pair guava slices with a mild white cheese for dessert. You can even put guava slices in a baggy and send them to school or work in place of a candy bar.

The guava has the sweet flavor of a strawberry or banana or pineapple or all three. You can eat the guava out of hand or sliced or cubed and served in a tropical salad or puréed and strained to flavor poultry or pork sauces or as flavoring for mousses, ice cream bases, whipped cream or custards.

The guava is a large plum sized tropical fruit with yellow, red or purple-black skin. A guava can be round or pear-shaped and look a bit like a quince. The guava stands 2 to 3 inches tall. Its sweet, aromatic flesh can be yellow or bright pink or red and is moist and sometimes embedded with small, hard edible seeds. The rind softens to become fully edible but can be peeled away when the fruit is firmer.

There are as many as 150 varieties of guava. Each has its own subtly distinct flavor. One variety, the ‘Beaumont’, looks like a pale yellow lemon with smooth skin. It has a shocking pink to salmon-colored flesh and a juicy, sweet flowery flavor. The Beaumont is a favorite for making guava juice.

The ‘Mexican Cream’ guava has a creamy consistency and chocolate flavor. The ‘Pear Guava’ has a tropical pear flavor. The ‘Strawberry Guava’ has a dark red skin with a white sweet-tart strawberry flavored flesh. The ‘Lemon Guava’ has a lemon yellow skin and sweet tropical flavor.

Many guava lovers often say the larger and more pear-shaped the guava the better the taste.

Guava plants range in size from large evergreen shrubs to semi-deciduous trees that grow to 30 feet tall. The guava is native to Central America and the Caribbean. The word guava is derived from the Spanish name guayaba which was an attempted rendering of the fruit’s Arawakan language name. The Arawakan languages existed in the Caribbean, but are now extinct.

In the seventeenth century, Spanish and Portuguese sailors introduced the guava to India and Southeast Asia and tropical and semi-tropical regions around the world. Today, the guava is commercially grown in the southern United States, Australia, India, Africa, Brazil, and Taiwan.

Local season. Guavas begin to ripen in the fall and are available until spring. The peak season is from November to March in the northern hemisphere.

Choose. Select guavas that are free of bruises, blemishes, and soft spots. A just ripe guava will give to gentle pressure like an avocado. A ripe guava will have a floral aroma. Firm guavas should be ripened. An unripe guava will have an astringent taste. Avoid fruit that is spotted, mushy, or very green. Ripe guavas have a fragrant aroma.

Amount. One large guava yields ⅓ to ½ cup sliced fruit.

Store. Guavas will keep at room temperature until soft. Ripe guavas can be refrigerated in a plastic or paper bag for up to 2 days. Guavas can be puréed and frozen. Guava paste can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature indefinitely.

The botanical name of the guava tree is Psidium guajava. The botanical name of the shrub guava is Psidium littorale.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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