What Is a Guava—and How Do You Eat It?
Here’s what you need to know about the tropical fruit.
There are few fruits quite as, well, fruity as the guava. Incredibly sweet and nutrient-packed, it’s hard not to love the tropical staple. But what exactly is a guava—and what do you do with it?
What Is Guava?
Guava is a tropical fruit native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. Its skin is typically yellow or light green, while its flesh is usually deep red or a vibrant shade of pink.
The fruit—which has edible seeds and is rounded in shape—grows on the Psidium guajava tree, a member of the myrtle family.
When ripe, a guava smells strong, sweet, and musky.
Guava, which likely originated in southern Mexico, has been distributed across continents for so long, nobody’s quite certain when the first guavas were cultivated.
It’s common in tropical climates around the world.
It arrived on American soil in the 1800s, when people started growing it commercially in Florida and Hawaii (which was not yet a U.S. state).
India is currently the No. 1 producer of guava. The country is responsible for a whopping 41 percent of the world’s total.
What Does Guava Taste Like?
Guava’s flavor is unique, sweet, and almost universally pleasant. Many people think it tastes like a hybrid between a strawberry and a pear. The sweetness of the fruit depends on which type you’re eating. Here are some of the most common varieties:
- Lemon Guava has (surprise, surprise) a lemony flavor. Quite sweet and small, this type of guava has a very strong scent and flavor. Also known as Apple Guava, this is the most common variety.
- Tropical Pink has bright yellow skin and pink flesh. It’s mildly sweet with a strong scent.
- Tropical White has whitish skin and is yellow on the inside. Because it’s very sweet, it’s great for desserts.
- Tropical Yellow (or Mexican Cream) has creamy white skin and orange-y flesh. This guava, which is moderately sweet, contains much more liquid than other varieties.
- Red Malaysian is sweet with red skin and pink flesh. This type is sometimes used as a decoration.
Health Benefits of Guava
Good news, guava lovers: The sweet fruit is really healthy.
Here are some nutritional highlights:
- Some studies have shown that consuming guava may help lower blood sugar levels.
- High in antioxidants and potassium, guava can promote heart health.
- High amounts of fiber (12% of the recommended daily intake) can aid in digestion.
- Since they’re rich in vitamin C, eating guavas can boost your immune system.
Where to Buy Guava
Guava’s availability depends on where you’re located in the U.S. If you live in a warm climate, you’re more likely to find fresh guava near you. For instance, it’s much easier to find the tropical fruit at a grocery store or farmers’ market in Florida than in Alaska.
When purchasing guava, look for fruit that’s soft and gives slightly to pressure. Avoid guavas that have blemishes or are extremely hard.
How to Store Guava
If you’ve purchased a guava that’s still quite firm, keep it on the counter (out of sunlight) for a few days while it ripens.
Once it gives slightly to pressure and smells strong and fruity, either enjoy the guava or refrigerate it in the crisper drawer. Before putting it in the fridge, secure your guava in a tightly sealed plastic or paper bag. This will protect it from other fruits that may encourage ripening.
Even if you keep the fruit in a safe place, you’ll still want to eat it within a few days after it’s reached peak ripeness. Like many tropical fruits, guava's shelf life is fleeting.
Freezing a guava is possible, but tricky. First you must peel the fruit, then completely submerge it in a mixture of plain water and simple syrup. Freeze the guava (still submerged) in an airtight container for up to a year.
How to Eat Guava
The entire guava is edible, so wash it thoroughly before preparing it. Cut the fruit like you would a cantaloupe: Down the middle, then into slices.
Guava has a variety of culinary purposes, though it’s most commonly eaten by itself.
Agua fresca, a fruit-based beverage that often includes guava, is extremely popular in Latin American countries. It’s often made into candies, dried snacks, desserts, and glazes for meats.
Because of its high pectin content, guava is particularly suitable for making jellies, jams, and marmalades.
Ready to try your hand at cooking with guava? Try one of our favorite recipes using the tropical fruit: