How do you pick a good guava fruit?
January 15, 2012 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Guava. I just discovered guava at a neighborhood market. I love the pine-y taste of the skin and the not-too-sweet inside. But tell me: 1. How do I pick a good guava? They're this kind. 2. Are there related fruit with a bitter, medicinal, pine, or juniper-like taste?
posted by fake to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They should be medium firm and quite fragrant. I'm not as big fan of the green ones. Generally guavas aren't ripe if they are green but it looks like your kind is permanently green.

Aren't they delicious?!
posted by semacd at 1:32 PM on January 15, 2012

It's not really related, but Indian-type mangoes (to me, at least) have a piney under note. The only mangoes I've found in the US like this are Keitt mangoes. Also here's a link explaining the pine flavor in some mangoes.
posted by shrabster at 1:36 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Try feijoa for something alike to the guava you're eating. Sometimes they're called pineapple guava.
posted by carsonb at 1:39 PM on January 15, 2012

Well, the rule about mangoes applies for guavas too: Generally, if you like the smell, you'll like how it tastes.

The firmer/harder the guava, the more bitter it will be. Some people like them really soft, but generally, they would be quite sweet at that point, and more pale yellow than green. The best guavas (slightly sweet, slightly tart, with just a hint of bitterness and that piney hint) are a pale green and with a slight give if you squeeze. Not as firm as a good apple, for example.

Nothing tastes like guava. Although for texture in a traditional Pakistani fruit salad, when she first moved the US, my mom used to use not-quite-ripe peaches as a substitute. I don't think this will give you that distinctive fragrance though.
posted by bardophile at 2:00 PM on January 15, 2012

Oh, custard apples, when they aren't yet fully ripe, have a somewhat similar scent. Not quite the same, but with hints of that same astringency.
posted by bardophile at 2:01 PM on January 15, 2012

Also, some varieties of ber, although not the kinds in the pictures of the article I've linked.
posted by bardophile at 2:09 PM on January 15, 2012

I like the exact sort of flavor you're describing, and like guava and certain mangoes (dried green mango, for example) and the above advice is good. But I jumped in here to say that you may really like trying a Pimm's Cup (if you drink). Pimm's is an English spirit based around a very juniper-y gin plus astringent fruits. To make a Pimm's Cup, your mixer is fizzy lemonade plus ice.

Your bitter, medicinal, pine, or juniper-like fruit-love description made me instantly crave Pimm's Cup.
posted by rumposinc at 2:36 PM on January 15, 2012

Response by poster: Oh wow, pimm's cup. gonna have to look for that today. Such great answers in here.
posted by fake at 2:39 PM on January 15, 2012

Response by poster: Also, there's flesh, and then seeds, and then flesh. Do people mostly just eat the outside flesh, or is there some method of dealing with/eating/using the interior?
posted by fake at 2:40 PM on January 15, 2012

Unless you are making yummy guava jelly, and/or have intestines of steel, I would not recommend eating the seeds. If you're feeling adventurous, you can simply cut the fruit into wedges and eat all of it. I was always told as a child that this was a good recipe for diarrhea; my personal experience has been that my mother and grandfather were correct in this regard. I almost never ate just one guava, though, so who knows? Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the wedges and you have an entirely scrumptious snack.
posted by bardophile at 2:51 PM on January 15, 2012

Try peeling them, halving and then use a spoon to take the seeds out. I don't care for the flavor of the skin.
posted by X4ster at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2012

Guava is my favourite fruit. I have spent countless childhood afternoons picking and eating guavas straight from the trees (lived for a few years in a place where everyone had a guava tree in their backyard). I wish Sydney supermarkets stocked them and I didn't have to hunt around to buy some.

Anyway, here is what you should look for when selecting guavas:

1. Colour: It should be light green. Not dark green, not yellowish green, and certainly not full on yellow. There should not be any artificial ripening marks (like this), it ruins the taste. Dark Green to Yellow is the continuum of ripeness from less ripe to ripe.

2. Hardness: Firm, but not rock hard. Too soft is over ripe. Too hard is not yet ripe enough.

3. Smell: Hard to describe, but it will have a slightly sweet smell that you will be able to tell apart from others. If the smell is too strong, it is over-ripe.

Try to err on the side of less ripe, because guavas will continue to ripen in your kitchen. Do not refrigerate.

You can eat the guava whole - skin, flesh, and seeds - without needing to add anything. Pink/White flesh doesn't make much difference in taste. You can cut wedges and put some salt/pepper on it, if you wish.

Like with any food item, you will probably develop a preference for a particular type of guava over time. Enjoy!
posted by vidur at 3:54 PM on January 15, 2012

I find that a slightly unripe mango is best to get that resin-ey flavor

I used to make a spruce beer. It's a seasonal thing only, because you need to use the fresh soft growth at the end of a branch in spring. It's not a fruit, but some local breweries will make seasonal brews. It was definitely a love-or-hate thing. Retsina is similar.
posted by annsunny at 8:10 PM on January 15, 2012

I've always eaten guava with the seeds. I like them slightly firm and they do have a mild bitter taste to them.
posted by arcticseal at 9:56 PM on January 15, 2012

My parents have a red strawberry guava bush, and I loved eating them when I was growing up. They have a much stronger flavour than the green guavas I've tried like the ones you linked to (I think they're a different species of the same family), and seem to be a little sweeter as well but not overwhelmingly so. The seeds are smaller and softer, and can be chewed if you like that kind of thing. They come in red and yellow varieties; the yellow, which is usually called yellow cherry guava, is supposed to be milder and sweeter.

Unfortunately I've never seen the fruit for sale, but the bushes are super easy to grow to the point that they're a prohibited weed in some places. They don't need a tropical climate and can even tolerate light frost. Maybe you could grow one?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:14 AM on January 16, 2012

Persimmons! Eat the skin for that astringent, piney taste.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:13 AM on January 16, 2012

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