Guava

Other names: Guyava, Kuawa

Availability: Sporadic August through November.

Source: Australia, Caribbean, Mexico and the U.S.

Handling Tips: Do not refrigerate. Ripen at room temperature

General Information: One of the most gregarious of fruit trees, the guava, Psidium guajava L., of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), is almost universally known by its common English name or its equivalent in other languages. In Spanish, the tree is guayabo, or guayavo, the fruit guayaba or guyava. The French call it goyave or goyavier; the Dutch, guyaba, goeajaaba; the Surinamese, guave or goejaba; and the Portuguese, goiaba or goaibeira. Hawaiians call it guava or kuawa.

The guava has been cultivated and distributed by man, by birds, and sundry 4-footed animals for so long that its place of origin is uncertain, but it is believed to be an area extending from southern Mexico into or through Central America. It is common throughout all warm areas of tropical America and in the West Indies (since 1526), the Bahamas, Bermuda and southern Florida where it was reportedly introduced in 1847 and was common over more than half the State by 1886. Early Spanish and Portuguese colonizers were quick to carry it from the New World to the East Indies and Guam. It was soon adopted as a crop in Asia and in warm parts of Africa. Egyptians have grown it for a long time and it may have traveled from Egypt to Palestine.

Guava fruits may be round, ovoid or pear-shaped, 2 - 4 inches long, and have 4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex. Varieties differ widely in flavor and seediness. The better varieties are soft when ripe, creamy in texture with a rind that softens to be fully edible. The flesh may be white, pink, yellow, or red. The sweet, musky odor is pungent and penetrating. The seeds are numerous but small and, in good varieties, fully edible.

The guava is one of the most common fruits in the world and its sweet pulp is used in a wide assortment of drinks, desserts, and other food products. The fruit is commonly eaten whole, but is often prepared in a variety of ways as a dessert. In Asia, raw guava is often dipped in salt or prune powder. Boiled guava is also extensively used to make candies, preserves, jellies, jams, marmalades (goiabada), and juices. In Asia, a tea is made from guava fruits and leaves. In Egypt, guava juice is popular. Guava leaves are used for medicinal purposes, as a remedy for diarrhea, and for their supposed antimicrobial properties.

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