My grandfather used to tell me about the guava and tamarind trees they had in Brownsville, Texas. During the 1930’s however, locals were required to dig up and destroy their trees, as guavas attracted a type of fruit fly that was detrimental to other crops in the U.S. Only in Latin America were guava fruit still available as fresh produce.
Exploring Mexican markets, there is always a sour-sweet pong that tweaks your nose, and you can be sure, it’s guava. A member of the Myrtle family of trees, guavas are native to Latin America, but are now grown commercially around the world in hot climates. Guavas have high pectin content, so they make great thick jams and paste style candies.
After an almost century long ban on the import of fresh guavas into the U.S., produce markets are occasionally offering the fresh guavas for sale. Look in the tropical portion of your produce market, and if you catch the whiff of guava aroma, it’s time to buy.
Look for fruit that is firm and unblemished. The blossom may still be attached to the end, which will be crispy and brown. Green guava fruit is too sour and hard to eat, but after a few days of sitting on your counter, the fruit should ripen.
The copious seeds found in the guava fruit are very hard and difficult to chew, and so should be scooped out before using them in any recipe. A few added seeds in your recipe are not unpleasant, but guavas have so many seeds that a dish can be overwhelmed with small pebble-like texture.
When incorporated into a dessert, made into a candy, or a syrup, guava flavor is unbelievably delicious. The intoxicating aroma can be addictive. I buy guavas just to keep in the kitchen. The aroma transports me back to adventurous days in Latin American markets, hot afternoons in cafes, and early morning coffee in my sister in law’s country home. For me, guava are the aroma of Latin America.
NOTE: If you notice in my final picture, the guavas turned slightly grey after cooking. I can’t figure out why. I cooked the guavas in a stainless steel, non-reactive saucepan. Perhaps it was the lime juice I added to the boiling syrup, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense, since the guavas are high in acid also. I scoured the internet for information on guava discoloration, but found nothing. If any guava experts can educate me, I would be happy to hear from you. Please post in comments, and I will repost.
Sweet Fresh Guavas in Syrup are easy to make, and can be served with cake, cookies, or by them selves.
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