Strawberry Guavas - Sweet, Tangy and Good for You
Have you tried strawberry guavas yet?
A few weeks ago, our strawberry guava trees were covered in hundreds of fruits, and we were struggling to eat them all.
So, I did what any resourceful modern cook would do: I preserved them. In this case I decided to make fruit leather in my dehydrator, and it was a hit!
Strawberry guavas as truly the bees knees of fruits - they're not too sweet, not too sour and they're bursting with vitamin C and other nutrients that are good for you.
Psidium Cattleianum is a small round fruit that tastes like ripe strawberries but looks like a tiny pomegranate and belongs to the guava family.
If you live in Hawaii or another tropical place, chances are you know of its infamous reputation as a pest. Strawberry guava trees will grow and multiply with abandon, and there is currently a man-hunt (plant hunt?) on to eradicate them.
However, where I live these plants are treated as delicacies, with hiking trips and festivals organised to pick the ripe fruits in the forest and on farms. The locals know that the plant is too valuable as animal fodder, building material and for its medicinal uses to be eradicated.
More than just a tasty fruit
We use the thin trunks of the strawberry guava tree to build fences on our property.
Image copyrighted by Pitaya (that's me!)
I remember the first time I tasted a strawberry guava. My husband had picked a small, round fruit from a tree and handed it to me. At first taste, I wasn't too impressed. The skin was leathery with a slight woody taste, and the inside flesh was sweet and good but the little seeds made the experience more annoying than life-changing.
Since then, I've discovered that if you eat the fruit when it's not ripe enough it can have a less than perfect taste and texture. But picked when deep red or left to soften on the counter for a couple of days this tropical fruit rivals the sweetest strawberry.
Not only that, the whole plant can be used in a variety of ways. The leaves are used as animal fodder and in a medicinal infusion, the seeds dried and used in musical instruments or art projects, and the wood itself makes a great building material.
My husband, who never misses an opportunity to use materials growing on our land to cut costs has made nearly all the paddocks and fences on the farm using strawberry guava tree trunks. Being abundant on our land as well as many forested areas of the island makes this wood accessible and free.
What to do with strawberry guavas
When they're in season, we pick crates of these small red fruits and then have the immense task of either eating or preserving them all.
Here's a list of treats that can be made with them.
- Ice-cream and sorbet
- Jelly (Jell-O to Americans)
- Fruit leather
- Fruit sauce for pancakes or other desserts
- Sweet and savoury sauce for meats
- Fruit juice
- Mousse or baked custard
My strawberry guava fruit leather recipe - It couldn't be simpler
My recipe produces chewy, sweet and very convenient rolls that will last for months if stored properly. They make a wonderful post-workout snack, lunchbox addition or flu season treat as they are full of Vitamin C and other immune enhancing goodies.
I use an Excalibur dehydrator which was pricy but worth every cent. You can use your oven but watch it carefully as results won't be as even.
Ripe strawberry guavas
1. Wash fruits. Place a food mill over a large bowl and mill the fruits until the skins and seeds are totally separated from the pulp.
2. Pour the pulp into a pot, add optional sugar to taste and bring to the boil. Let simmer 3 minutes, then cool completely.
3. Ladle the fruit mixture onto non-stick dehydrator sheets or a baking paper lined oven tray and spread evenly using a spatula or knife.
4. Dehydrate according to your machine's instructions, or place in the oven on the lowest possible temperature and check after an hour. It's ready when the leather isn't sticky to the touch.
5. Cool completely, then cut into long strips and roll up in baking paper.
What you'll need
People like me who have black thumbs might prefer a small tree to get started.
You'll obviously need some strawberry guavas to make this recipe, and seeds are the cheapest way to start growing your own.You don't need to live in the tropics to grow these, but make sure you soak and sprout the seeds properly or you'll be disappointed.
You absolutely need a food mill when cooking with strawberry guavas, unless you want to be peeling skins and separating hundreds of tiny seeds for days. This one is well-priced, well-rated and can be used for many other recipes.
This is the exact model I own and love. It gives perfect results every time and saves a lot of money when you consider all the snack foods you won't buy anymore.
Making fruit leather step-by-stepClick thumbnail to view full-size
How exotic is your taste?
Let us know whether you've tried out this tropical fruit, and what you thought about it.
Have you ever tasted the strawberry guava?
Health benefits of the strawberry guava
People eat this fruit because it tastes great, but it also happens to be an amazing source of nutrients. For every 100g of edible strawberry guava flesh, you will find:
37mg Vitamin C (49% of your recommended daily intake!)
27mg of phosphorus
282mg of potassium
As well as small amounts of Omega-3 , Omega-6 and Vitamin B1, B2 and B3
Where I live, the locals have used goyaviers, as they're known here for decades to relieve all sorts of health problems.
Fruits in the guava family are astringent and rich in potassium, making them useful in small amounts for cases of diarrhea, stomach aches and dysentery.
Conversely, those suffering from constipation are told to gorge on the fruit as the high fibre content helps get the bowels moving properly.
The vitamin rich fruit is in season just as the latest bouts of colds and the flu are going around. This is handy, as the large amounts of Vitamin C are wonderful for fighting seasonal illnesses.
The anti-oxidants and B vitamins contained in the fruit promote general health and energy, and I've heard several people say they make an infusion with the fruit skins and leaves to ease fatigue and beat bacterial infections.
More about strawberry guavas
Go on a virtual tour through a strawberry guava forest with Green Deane.
Great recipes from around the web
- Strawberry Guava Juice
A traditional recipe from Hawaii
- Strawberry Guava Jam or Jelly | Nathan and Kathys Blog
I may have a new favorite jelly! Try this tropical twist on strawberry jam for a nice surprise!
- Strawberry Guava Stuffed French Toast
Enjoy this exotic and decadent breakfast recipe.