Strawberry guava is a small edible tropical fruit with a sweet-tart flavor. It is native to South America but has become widely popular in other regions.
Table of Contents
What is a Strawberry Guava?
Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) is a round or pear-shaped fruit growing on small trees or shrubs in the Myrtaceae (Myrtle) family.
It also goes by other names, including cattley guava, cherry guava, and Chinese guava. They are closely related to other guava types, including the common guava and feijoa.
Strawberry guava fruits are 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter, the size of a golf ball. They have smooth, thin, and chewy skin. The skin can be bright red or yellow, depending on the variety. Their aqueous flesh is translucent or white, and contains many hard tan seeds.
Two varieties of strawberry guava exist. The first variety (Psidium cattleyanum) produces red fruits with a sweet-tart or tangy flavor. It is also known as purple guava, red strawberry guava, red cattley guava, or red cherry guava.
The yellow strawberry guava variety (Psidium littorale) has yellow fruits with a delightful, spicy flavor. It’s also called yellow cherry guava, lemon guava, or waiawī (in Hawaii).
The strawberry guava tree fruit tree is drought-tolerant and thrives in many ecosystems. So it can grow well in full sun or shaded areas.
The History of Strawberry Guava
Strawberry guava originates in the Amazon Basin in Brazil, where it has grown wildly for ages.
However, the migration of South American people and animals led to its spread in other regions in the 19th century. For instance, it was introduced in Hawaii in 1825 for ornamental and consumption purposes.
After its introduction in non-native regions, strawberry guava was spread by birds and wild pigs that snacked on the fruits. So it naturalized rapidly in Florida, Southern California, and other tropical areas in the Caribbean, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean.
Strawberry guava became invasive in areas outside its native region, like Hawaii, because it flourishes rapidly and fruits all year round. The strawberry guava plant is habitat-altering since it forms thickets, preventing other plants from thriving. Also, the plant provides a habitat for invasive fruit flies, posing a danger to local species.
Today, the strawberry guava grows in different regions in USDA zones 10 to 11 and Australia.
In Hawaii, the wood from the strawberry guava tree is used to make tools. The lumber is used in house projects, while the firewood smokes meat for parties and other celebrations.
What Does a Strawberry Guava Taste Like?
Red strawberry guava has a sweet-tart flavor, while the yellow variety is a bit spicy.
When cooked, the strawberry guava adds a sweet taste to jams, jellies, purees, and baked foods.
How to Tell When Strawberry Guava is Ripe
Here are some characteristics to help you know that strawberry guava is ripened and ready to eat:
|Strawberry guavas turn from light green to variegated shades of pink, maroon, and purplish red. But this color change attracts fruit flies and birds that love snacking on it. So, pick the fruit while still green and let it ripen on your counter.
|The fruit’s skin remains smooth and slightly gives in when fully mature and ripe. Avoid strawberry guava fruits that are too soft, as they could be invaded by fruit fly larvae.
|Ripened strawberry guavas have a sweet, floral, and fruity aroma akin to roses and strawberries.
Are Strawberry Guava and Common Guava Related?
Yes, they are both in the same family. Here are the primary similarities and differences between the two fruits:
- Both are fragrant and juicy.
- They’re native to South America.
- They have edible flesh and seeds when raw or cooked.
- Strawberry guava is less musky than the common guava.
Can I Eat Raw Strawberry Guava?
Yes, you can eat this fruit in its raw form.
The strawberry guava’s flesh and seeds are edible, making this tropical fruit a popular snack.
Once ripened, you can eat the fruit straight from the tree. Alternatively, toss it into your salads, yogurt, oatmeal, or ice cream. Finally, you can blend it into smoothies or chill the fruit juice to make popsicles.
Cooking with Strawberry Guava
Thanks to its sweet-tart flavor, strawberry guava has many culinary applications.
Here’s how to prepare strawberry guava for cooking:
- Select fully ripened strawberry guava fruits.
- Wash them thoroughly under running water.
- Cut off the top and bottom end pieces.
- Cut the fruits into halves or small wedges, depending on your recipe.
Your strawberry guava is now ready for cooking!
It’s widely cooked to make jams, pastes, and purees in its native and non-native regions. Strawberry guava puree and paste are also used in baked goodies.
You can also simmer the fruit into syrup and add it to your cocktails, sparkling water, or flavored iced tea.
Strawberry guava fruits make an excellent combo with ginger, lemon, and creamy cheeses. They also pair well with other fruits in salads and smoothies, including mango, strawberry, pineapple, and watermelon.
Here are specific strawberry guava recipes:
Strawberry Guava Jam: You don’t have to buy fruit jam when you can make some at home using strawberry guava. This easy-to-make jam will be a nice spread on your toast or buns.
Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Puff Pastries): These yummy treats are popular in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. They feature strawberry guava paste, cheese, puff pastries, and sugar. Your tea or coffee hour will always be exciting with these delicious goodies around.
Strawberry Guava Fruit Rollups: When de-seeded, strawberry guavas make nice fruit leather. And you can throw in some strawberries, honey, or nectar agave to sweeten them up. You’ll enjoy your delightful snack.
How to Store Strawberry Guava
Strawberry guava is highly perishable because fruit fly larvae invade it when ripe, and the fruit continues ripening after harvest. So you should consume it within 2-4 days.
You can also harvest it early and keep the unripe fruit at room temperature.
Ripe strawberry guava can also be refrigerated for a week. However, ensure that it’s not yet infested by bugs. Then, remove the seeds, puree the ripe fruits, and chill them for months to extend their shelf life.
Nutritional Benefits of Strawberry Guava
Strawberry guava is a nutritious fruit comprising vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The following list highlights the nutritional composition of strawberry guava and its health benefits.
Vitamin A: Improves vision and the functioning of body organs, including the heart and lungs. It also boosts immunity and promotes reproduction, growth, and development.
B Vitamins: Enhance brain function, cell metabolism, and growth of red blood cells. They also help in the production of hormones and cholesterol. The vitamins are essential in nerve function, digestion, vision, energy production, appetite, and toning muscles.
Vitamin C: It’s an antioxidant that prevents cell damage by radicals. It also promotes healthy skin (by preventing scurvy) and improves the immune system.
Dietary fiber: Improves digestion, preventing constipation and diarrhea. It also regulates blood glucose levels, preventing diabetes.
Potassium: Controls blood pressure, promotes muscle function, and boosts heart health.
Magnesium: Supports cell, nerve, and muscle function. It also regulates mood and blood glucose levels.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids: Support heart and brain health. They may also help lower the risk of cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and age-related macular degeneration.
Where to Purchase Strawberry Guava
Since they’re highly perishable, you’ll rarely find strawberry guava fruits in fresh food markets. But you can order them from online and specialty stores when in season.
They’re readily available in summer, although they can fruit all year round in some areas.