January 18, 2007

Our first guayaba

Guayaba fruit, Psidium guajava Linn.

We had our first guayaba (guava) the other day. It wasn't what I expected but it was good, sweet and juicy. It measured about 5 inches (13 cm.). Our neighbor gave us the tree about three years ago and it spent the first year in a gallon pot until our yard was ready for planting.

At that time our neighbor also gave us a guayaba from his tree. It was hard and white inside with a taste somewhat like a tangy apple. The seeds were dangerously hard. They could easily break a tooth. That's why this one wasn't what I expected.

Like mangos, guayabas can be eaten unripe. Here in Honduras, that is usually with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Since we didn't even know we had this guayaba until it fell off the tree, we ate this one ripe. It was soft and pink inside, sweet, and tasted . . . . well, tropical. We ate the skin and the seeds, which in the ripe fruit, were soft and hardly noticeable, kind of like tomato seeds.

Guayaba, Latin name Psidium guajava Linn., is native to the American tropics. In Honduras, it is grown primarily in the home garden as problems with white fly and other insects limit its usefulness on a commercial scale. My neighbor tightly covers his fruit individually with plastic to prevent an infestation.

This is a picture of the tree. It looks more like a bush right now because it needs pruning. It's not a bad size for a tree in the ground only two years − about 8 feet tall (2.4 m.). It was only about 18 inches (46 cm.) when we planted it.

For the history of guavas, described by the author as one of the most gregarious fruit trees, and everything else you ever wanted to know, see Fruits of Warm Climates.
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