A Little Guava History
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.
How to Select Guavas at the Market
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
Sweet Fresh Guavas in Syrup are easy to make, and can be served with cake, cookies, or by them selves.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: Latin
- 1 lb fresh guavas, rinsed and cut in half (500gr)
- 2 cups water (480ml)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100gr)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 Mexican lime, cut in half
- Using a small metal spoon, scoop out the interior seeds of each guava half, discarding the seeds. Place the guava halves in a 1 qt saucepan, and cover with the water. Add the sugar and cinnamon, and squeeze in the lime juice, adding the lime rinds to the saucepan. Stir once, and then bring to boiling over a high flame. Lower the heat to simmering, and then cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat, cover, and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve warm, or cool completely to chill. Store in the refrigerator.
My paternal grandmother, an Anglo Indian Christian, used to make something similar for us as dessert.
She added cloves to the sweet guava water when bringing it to a boil. And we had it chilled with a dollop of whipped cream. It was the best tasting dessert- but I couldn’t explain it to anybody as else as they never happened to understand the combo of syrup, guavas and cream.
Recently, on my trip back to Pakistan, I enjoyed the same dessert- but at a friend’s house. You will not believe how excited I was to discover that there was somebody else who understood what guava pudding was!.
My friend’s family holds on to some colonial era traditions, mannerisms, decor etc. I’m assuming this recipe is something the British enjoyed in the colonial era. And that is why most of my Pakistani friends are not familiar with it.
I love your story, thank you so much for sharing. Guavas are native to the Americas, so they would have been taken back to Europe and Asia after Europeans made it to the Americas. My husband grew up in Mexico eating guavas from their trees in their garden. However, my grandfather who lived just over the Rio Grande from where my husband grew up said that all of the trees were eradicated on the US side of the border, as the health department determined they attracted too many fruit flies that were threatening other crops. All of the tamarind trees were taken out too for the same reason. Quince too, I believe. I live just on the border of Mexico, so fruits that were legal in Mexico became illegal on my side in the US. We now have a guava tree at the ranch, and have gotten guavas from it once. It is a sad tree, with blighted leaves, and very scrawny. We love it, only because we have hope that some day it will love us back. We are still not sure if it will live, but it tries. Nonetheless, the supermarket now has guavas, and I buy them when I can.
SO grateful for your message! Guavas lovers, unite! xo mg
Can you eat the Guavas without cooking them?
Yes, I do all the time! Just make sure they are ripe. The green ones are pretty sour. Also, watch out for all the seeds, I usually scoop them out. Enjoy!!
I love guayabas. This past Christmas I made a guava cheesecake that was to die for. We have a Cuban food truck here in town and the owner sells me guava marmalade in a pouch. I used it both in the cream cheese mix and once it was cooked and cooled, I topped it with more of the marmalade. Our American guests who had never tried guavas where blown away with how wonderful the cheesecake tasted. Guava lovers unite LOL.
I agree! We have a guava tree here at the ranch, but it is rather pitiful. I love having guayabas in the kitchen! I love the aroma!
Copper content in the water can turn cooked fruits and vegies greyish blue. Happens when I pickle garlic.
Hi Amanda! That is a good point, but I went back to see what pot I used and it looks like stainless steel. I don’t use aluminum, and although I have copper pots, I didn’t use it for this batch. But I think you are on to something. Maybe there is an issue with the spoon I used, if it was aluminum. I will keep looking around for other articles and will update you if I find something. Thanks so much for your thoughts!!
There could also be a high copper content in your water source. I’ve had a similar reaction with peaches in water high in iron content. Maybe somehow related?
Thanks so much for the info. That could very well be the case. I am wondering if I cooked them in a copper pan, now that I think aboout it. Its a mystery, but there has to be a reason. I think you may have an answer here. Thanks so much! I will post any update when I make them again! MG
We have a guava tree in our yard. The fruit has a very strong smell which is heavenly but tastes very bland when eaten straight from the tree so I was disappointed. I prepared them using this recipe exactly & they are delicious. I would compare them to stewed apricots in syrup. We love to eat them with vanilla ice cream. Thank you.
I am glad you enjoyed them! We had a guava tree but it froze. I can see it trying to grow back, so there is hope! Thanks for your note! MG