What is Guava and How to Eat It?

Whether you’re completely new to guava, or have enjoyed a few varieties and want to learn more, this guide about what guava is and how to eat it is for you. Discover how many delicious types there are, how to choose them, prepare them, enjoy them, and much more.

Different types of guava on a wooden cutting board overhead shot

Guava is a fairly recent discovery for me. I was lucky enough to be able to try the most delicious, fresh guava while traveling abroad, and ever since it’s a flavor that I’ve been incredibly interested in learning more about.

I dove into discovering all I could about how to use guava in cooking so I could bring that tropical, sweet flavor home and share it with my family and friends. And of course, I want to share all I’ve learned with my readers too!

This guide is home to everything I’ve found about what guava is, how to eat it, and all the other fun facts that will make trying out the many different varieties exciting.

What is Guava?

It was so fascinating to discover that there are actually over 100 different varieties of guava worldwide. That’s a lot of fruit to sample!

It’s a tropical, round, or oblong shaped tree fruit that can range in both interior and exterior color, as well as flavor.

Most guava starts deeply green, then becomes yellow, white, or even pinkish red as it ripens. The insides can be white, yellow, or pink, and range from very, very sweet, to mild and even slightly acidic.

Two halves of a ripe guava

There are way too many varieties to list here, and they may not even be sold according to the variety name when you buy them. Instead, you’ll usually find them sold as red-pink, yellow, or white guavas.

Each of those classifications can have such a range of textures and flavors, it’s really best to just start sampling and find out what you like best.

A Bit of History

It’s just as fascinating to learn that guava is actually a very popular fruit across the world. It didn’t start that way. It’s believed to have originated in the tropical regions of Central America, somewhere near the southern edge of Mexico.

The fruits are technically a large berry, and contain a huge number of seeds. The trees are very adaptable plants, and between settlers and birds, the seeds were eventually spread through the world. They grow so prolifically that guava is actually considered invasive in some regions.

As they spread, cultures adopted the sweet, floral fruit into their traditions. You’ll find recipes for eating guava as snacks, desserts, preserves, and much more in almost any country that has been growing them for a while.

What Does Guava Taste Like?

With so many people eating it, it has to be pretty good right? I certainly think so. Guava is a sweet, floral, very juicy fruit that some people compare to a papaya. If you haven’t had that either, then think of a strawberry mixing with a pear in a very juicy, slightly firm fruit.

One of the appeals of guava is the aroma. Even before you take a bite, the sweet, musky, fragrance hits your nose and promises sweet, tropical flavors to come.

How to eat guava fruit

Of course this can vary pretty widely with variety. Some, like the Tropical Yellow variety, are extremely sweet, and used primarily for desserts. Others like the Malaysian Red are beautifully colored, but have a stronger fragrance than they do flavor. Many often have a mildly acidic edge to them, like a bit of lemon juice was mixed in.

Health Benefits

Now that you’re intrigued by the sweet and aromatic promise of guava, let me tell you that it’s also super healthy for you.

They’re loaded with vitamin C, in fact, the rind contains more than an entire orange. They’re also high in potassium, folic acid, antioxidants, vitamin A, and healthy fibers, making it a great low-calorie snack for digestion and heart health.

How to Tell if a Guava is Ripe

With how widespread guava is around the world, odds are pretty good you can find it in one form or another at your local grocery store, especially if you live anywhere near a tropical area.

Fresh guava is going to be with the other fruits near the fresh produce. Usually, all the imported tropical types are near each other, so check near the bananas. Regardless of the color of the guava you find there, you can pick the best ones based on firmness and aroma.

Different types of ripe guava cut into slices

They should be blemish free and have a slight give when gently squeezed, like a ripe avocado or peach. The fragrance should be strong enough to smell them before you even get it near your nose.

If all you see are hard, deep green ones, that’s okay. They can be ripened on the countertop at home, then transferred to the fridge when ripe. It’s much better to choose underripe than ones that are bruised or very soft.

If you have no luck finding fresh fruit, then go for paste. Guava paste is stable at room temperature so look on the ethnic food aisle. It can be used in almost any recipe that calls for guava, or can be enjoyed all on its own over cheese or as a spread.

How to Cut a Guava

How you approach prepping fresh guava really depends on how you’re eating it. The entire fruit is edible so it’s actually completely fine to go ahead and eat it like an apple.

Guava fruit cut in half

I do recommend giving a good scrub first though, to remove any dirt, dust, or wax coating.

If you’re not a fan of the rind, it’s also okay to remove it. Trim off the top and bottom and slice it lengthwise. Then either cut it into wedges and cut off the rind, or scoop out the flesh.

Ripe guava cut into wedges

The seeds can be just as easily removed with a spoon or your finger if you don’t want to eat them.

How to Eat Guava

There are dozens upon dozens of ways to enjoy it. There are actually tons of amazing guava recipes out there, but historically cultures enjoy them fresh with just a simple addition of seasoning.

They’re great sprinkled with lime and salt, drizzled with a soy sauce and vinegar combo, or dusted with spices and salt before eating. Fresh guava smoothies or juices are also delicious to sip on their own.

But you can’t go wrong cooking it either. The pulp can be used in cakes and pies, the juice used in ice creams and yogurts, and they’re famously enjoyed as preserves.

They are a naturally pectin rich fruit. So the puree can transform into the most amazing, tropical guava jam, syrups, jellies, or can even be cooked down into homemade guava paste that you can store and use for a long time.

Slices of homemade guava paste on the plate

Guava paste is famously served on its own with cheese, infused into sauces, made into glazes, or put in baked goods like these Pastelitos with guava and cheese.

Give Guava a Try!

As you can tell, diving into the world of guava will enrich your cooking and your taste buds with new and exciting sweet, tropical flavors.

Start trying out any fresh varieties you can find, and I think you’ll quickly discover that whether you eat them in their fresh juicy state, or cook them into a paste, that guava will quickly become a household favorite for you too.

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