As far as I can recall, my only experiences with guava have been a jar of Guava Jelly I once received as a gift, and a can of Guava Juice at one time or another, neither of which left any lasting impression with me. Until now, I had not only actually seen the real article, I really had no idea what a guava looked like. Just the other day, however, some appeared at our local Northmart store and, as my readers already know, I can’t resist giving new foods a try…
The specimen you see pictured above is, as far as I can tell from my research, the most common variety and is known, somewhat appropriately as the ‘common guava’. It is also known, presumably because of the size and shape, as a ‘lemon guava’ but, given the color, I think it looks a bit more like a lime. The common type is native to Central and South America but there are types grown all around the tropical world and some are larger – the size of a grapefruit – and others have pink flesh inside.
Here you can see the interior in cross-section. The flesh, which resembles an apple is quite sparse and there are a lot of seeds. The rind doesn’t look very thick but it certainly feels quite tough on the outside and left to my own devices I might have cut it away before sampling. On reading a little further, however, I learned that both the rind and seeds are commonly eaten, although the seeds are also sometimes scooped away.
The smell of the interior is not easy to describe and didn’t have any ‘fruitiness’ to it. Rather, it reminded me very much of the ‘sappy’ aroma of freshly cut flower stems. As for the taste and texture, I have to say that neither I nor my wife were particularly favorably impressed… The flesh was somewhat like a rather dry cooking apple but had none of the succulence and virtually no sweetness. The taste was somewhat reminiscent of watermelon rind (which I like), but with a faintly bitter aftertaste and more acidity. The seeds added a crunch that was mostly pleasant but the occasional hard one tends to catch one unawares.
One source I consulted advised that only soft guava should be selected and these ones were still rather firm so it is quite possible that I didn’t try these at their peak ripeness. I could, I suppose, have tried ripening the fruit on a windowsill or something but the same source also says the fruit do not keep well and I am not sure that that would work. I also read that the exterior ripe fruit has a ‘musky’ aroma but I don’t believe I detected anything like that and I am not entirely sure I would recognize it if it were there.
It would seem, from what I read, that the gustatory experience of the lain fruit requires a little ‘something else’ for others as well as it is commonly consumed with a variety of additions. In some parts, the cut sections are dipped in a mix of powdered plum and sugar, and vinegar is sometimes used as a dip as well. Two other suggestions I came across were for soy sauce and Garam Masala and my wife and I tried both of these. A little of the Masala sprinkled on each slice was interesting but didn’t really improve things a lot for us but the soy was quite good. The only problem was that the taste of the soy really dominated to the exclusion of everything else which rather undercut the whole point of eating the guava in the first place. I rather suspect that vinegar may have the same result.
After the first fruit, my wife and I were not really heavily inclined to try he second and then I had a bit of a flash of inspiration and tried lightly frying a few slices in butter with a little sugar sprinkled on the cut surfaces. I won’t claim that the result was particularly earth-shattering but cooking did improve things a little and, most notably, gave a succulence that was lacking in the raw flesh.
Anyway, for any Iqaluit residents who read this, Northmart may still have some of these fruit left and you might want to grab a few and try them for yourselves. As for my wife and I, I can’t say that we are in any hurry to buy them again…