What would a Cuban turnover be without guava paste? Bland!
Guava is a New World fruit that has spread over much of the warm parts of the globe. Guavas come in a few colors inside and a few flavors. The ones you buy or pick can be from 140 species. They are pear-shaped, oval or round, one inch to four inches in diameter, with skin that is most often yellow-green to pale yellow and the fruit can taste sour to sweet. The kinds we like best, of course, are sweet.
Color inside can vary from white to red. Seeds can be almost nonexistent or hard, and the fruit can be packed with them.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek Cookery said the seeds “lie in obtrusive layers … like rows of buckshot. Folks with a passion for guavas eat the seeds along with the fruit, and make an intolerable racket.” (I wish I had known the lady.)
It’s the aroma that hits you first. Like the flavor, the smell can range from gym socks to something marvelous. Let your nose tell you what fruit to select and when it is ripe. Then keep it in the fridge.
If you have the right variety, just wash ’em and eat ’em, or the seeds and pulp around them can be scooped out and pureed. If this happened in the age of the pea shooter, I know where the seeds would go.
Scoop out seeds and you are left with a little bowl. Poach the bowls in sweetened water and fill the softened fruit with cream cheese and serve in the poaching syrup. Or, just slice the bowls raw and mix with pieces of star fruit, kiwi, and blueberries for a dazzling color combination.
Sliced or chopped, the cooked fruit makes fine shortcake when mixed with cream and served over biscuits.
A simple way, other than eating them raw, is to puree the whole thing, add a little sugar or honey and drizzle syrup over whipped cream or custard. Feeling more ambitious? Strain the puree and mix it with the cream or custard. Use the puree as a base for ices, ice cream, or fruitsicles.
Company’s coming and you don’t have much! Make store-bought rice pudding or tapioca pudding special with a drizzle of the guava syrup you just made.
Rawlings is always good for a recipe for things Florida:
Use large, ripe guavas. Cut off the tops and scoop out enough of the center to hold one teaspoon sugar each. Bake in a hot oven with a small amount of water in the pan, until tender when pierced with a long-tined fork. Serve hot, covered with chilled boiled custard.
Jane Nickerson, my predecessor when I became food editor at The Ledger in 1988, published a cookbook in 1973 called Jane Nickerson’s Florida Cookbook. In it is a recipe with the preamble: “The Misses Grace, Louella, and Fannie Pope, native Floridians and long-time residents of Lakeland, gave me this recipe, which they prepared with guavas from their backyard tree till a recent freeze killed the fruit.”
FRESH GUAVA COBBLER
2 cups sugar
2 cups seeded, sliced, ripe guavas
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle one cup sugar on the guavas. Melt the butter in a two-quart baking dish. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining cup of sugar. Add the milk; stir lightly and quickly with a fork, just enough to dampen the dry ingredients.
Carefully pour this batter on the melted butter. Spoon the sugared guavas on the batter. Bake about an hour, during which time the batter will rise over the fruit and become crisp and brown. Serve at once with fluid, heavy cream.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Here is what is in a 3.5-ounce guava, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
It’s 81 percent water, has 68 calories, 2.55 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, no cholesterol, 5.4 grams of fiber, 18 milligrams (mg) of calcium, .26 mg of iron, 22 mg of magnesium, 40 mg of phosphorus, 417 mg of potassium, 2 mg of sodium, 228 mg of vitamin C, and 624 IU of vitamin A.
article by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is food editor of Central Florida Health News.