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Guava: Delicious Food and Useful Medicine

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Food as Herbs, Health, and Medicine

Summer Volume: 2018 Issue: 25(2) pages: 34 to 36

Some five million tons of this fruit are harvested in China each year. They are the world’s second largest grower, India is the first. These pectin-rich high dietary fiber fruits have lots of Vitamin C, four times as much as a large orange. They are the world’s most frequently eaten tropical fruit; and they grow on small trees, have a specific fragrance, and are usually round, oval, or pear-shaped; and their shape does depend upon their species. Though tropical, one amazing thing about this fruit is that it can survive temperatures below freezing, down to twenty degrees Fahrenheit, however, only for short periods of time.

Known as fan shek lau in Chinese, Psidium guajava or Psidium calltleyanum botanically, these fruits have thick rinds, green skins when unripe that become more yellow when ripe, they grow on small trees that some call big shrubs. Known for their pink or white flowers, mustard-yellow seeds, and their white, pink, yellow, salmon, and even darker colors that some refer to as carmine, they can have cream to white flesh or it can be pink; and there are commercial growers working on still other colors, though we have yet to see these.

This fruit is native to many continents and countries including Africa and Australia, Thailand, India, Brazil, and the Philippines. When fully ripe or over ripe, they can be mealy; and are best when almost ripe and fresh. Many are also eaten canned or preserved, and as a liquid nectar or thinner. They are poor sources of calcium, phosphorus, thiamine, and riboflavin, and have only five percent total sugar, so diabetics adore them. The best known variety is the strawberry guava, and most who love this fruit love these even more.

The fruits aid metabolism and reduce serum cholesterol levels, but two reasons they are loved medicinally. Our Taiwanese friends tell us they are also a ‘must eat’ for lovers, and they are super in all types of dumplings, great when stir-fried with duck tongues, and great when used to make a catsup- like condiment that is even better than those made by Heinz. We have friends who tell us they are great as a juice that when from ripe fruits are effective for relieving constipation. One doctor friend said not to forget to tell readers their leaves are wonderful as a tea. He also said to assure diabetic they are fantastic.

One question frequently asked is how does one know when they are almost ripe or even very ripe? The answer, when immature they have no aroma, and then they are green, hard and too crisp. When ripe, they are fragrant, even lemon- smelling,. He said to take a bite and in the mouth, they will be sweet and unique; also smell very sweet.

Guava are good cooked in or with desserts, behave just as apples do when preparing them, and are excellent whipped in fools and used made into ice creams, and cooked any and every way, fantastic in or as beverages, and are wonderful in almost every dim sum and dumpling, in sauces, puddings, and when cooked with small and large organ meats.

Guava Sauce

2 medium onions, sliced thinly
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small pepper. Piquant or not, seeded and sliced thinly
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt


1. Simmer onions in half-cup water until they are soft.
2. Then, add all other ingredients and simmer half hour longer or until thick, and use immediately or store in sealed sterilized jars and seal immediately, storing in a cool dark place.

Guava Dumplings

7 to 9 ripe guava fruits
1 cup granulated sugar, setting 1 Tablespoon aside
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons solid shortening
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil


1. Peel the guavas, cut each in half, and mash before adding the Tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon. Let this rest for ten minutes.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, the rest of the sugar, and half of the salt. Then add the shortening cutting it into the flour with two knives. 3. Clump this dough into a ball, then roll it out thinly. Now cut it into two and a half-inch squares and stack them one on the other.
4. Next, put one heaping tablespoon of the mashed fruit pulp onto each skin and seal these with water. Then crimp them shut with a fork and set them aside not touching one another.
5. Add the dumplings when they water comes to a full rolling boil, and immediately add one cup of cold water. Ten, return the water to a rolling boil. Do this four more times.
6. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon and immediately toss them with the tablespoon of vegetable oil. Now serve them with the guava sauce; its recipe follows.

Guava Buns

½ pound ground pork
1 large guava, peeled, pitted, and minced
1 Chinese sausage, minced
1 large sheet bean curd skin, cut into twelve squares
3 scallions, minced1 egg white
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt and pepper
10 coriander stems to tie the buns shut
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, if pan-frying them


1. Mix pork, guava, soy sauce, salt and pepper, egg white, and two Tablespoons cool water, then add the sausage and scallions, and mix well.
2. Spoon one tablespoon of the pork mixture onto the center of each bean curd square, then tie around their tops with a coriander stem. Repeat until all are made.
3. Then, steam them for seven minutes over boiling water. Serve them with any extra soy sauce, for dipping; or pan fry with the extra oil. If frying them until golden brown.

Duck Tongues With Guava

2 ripe guava, peeled and sliced
1 pound duck tongues, boiled for five minutes, water and bones discarded
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced
3 scallions, each cut in one-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 two-inch square of tangerine peel, cut in small pieces
1 star anise
3 slices fresh peeled ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil


1. Prepare guava, duck tongues, carrot, scallions, and set them aside
2. Put tangerine pieces in a pot with three cups of cold water, the star anise, ginger, half the scallion pieces, and the salt and pepper and oyster sauce, and simmer this for ten minutes.
3. Then add the cornstarch mixed with the sesame oil, and stir another ten minutes until thick, then serve.

Steamed Guava Pudding

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound sweet rice flour
1/4 pound wheat starch
1 1/4 pounds brown sugar
2 Tablespoons corn oil
few pieces red candied guava for decor


1. Oil bottom and sides of an eight-inch square baking dish.
2. Boil the brown sugar with three cups of cold water until dissolved, then remove from the heat and when cool, mixing in the flour, wheat starch, and the corn oil mixing well.
3. Pour into the oiled pan and steam over boiling water for two hours, checking periodically that the water has not boiled out. 4. Then remove and cool to room temperature, cut into two-inch squares, and decorate with the candied guava. Serve warm.

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