sweet guava memories

by Heguiberto on February 22, 2010

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Guava is a very popular fruit in Brazil, particularly in my home state of Minas Gerais, where it’s grown all over. As a kid I remember climbing guava trees in the woods behind my house and gorging myself on those delicious, flavorful fruits. Mmmmm!

pedra do baú - Mantiqueira Mountain Chain

luscious red guava

Guava can be pinkish-red or white. They have a “tropical flavor:” sweet and a bit sour with a tad of bitterness. They also smell sweet, sometimes too sweet; almost like something is about to rot and get very scary, but in a good way. I favor the reds over the whites, just like wine.

Besides eating the fresh fruit you can make it into killer desserts and jams. I especially liked the guava jam my mother used to make. My bro Nelson still makes it the way she did.

guava at a Brazilian fruit stand

Ripe guava has a thin peel that can be yellowish or light green. Just under the skin there is a thick grainy layer of fruit surrounding a very smooth and creamy pulp that has hundreds of little rock-solid seeds. The pulp is the most flavorful part but be careful with your teeth. The entire fruit, including the skin and seeds, is edible.

To make a delicious, creamy guava jam, however, you only use the pulp. Really it’s more of a “guava butter” than jam though I eat it in the same way that I would jam. If you’re going to make it, the recipe’s fairly straightforward. Just split the guava in halves. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and place it in a large pan with sugar. Cook it for a while. Then strain to remove the seeds and store in a jar. It is very laborious, but well worth it. I do not know the proportion of guava pulp to sugar. If you’re really interested, e-mail me and I’ll get the exact recipe from Nelson.

charming mountain city of São Bento do Sapucaí

On my recent trip to Brazil for my nephew’s university graduation, there was no homemade guava jam waiting because everyone was busy doing other stuff. Too bad! Luckily I came across a road-side shop on the way to visit my hometown, Olegário Maciel, MG, that sold it. I bought a few jars from that vendor. Their shop is located somewhere close to the city of São Bento do Sapucaí in the beautiful, green Mantiqueira mountain range that divides the States of São Paulo and Minas Gerais.

This particular shop has been there for quite some time. They sell all kinds of Brazilian sweets that have not quite yet made it to mainstream supermarkets, like guava jam. Guava comes in at least a dozen different ways, including jams, jellies, candies, whole fruit in sweet syrup and firm “bars.” Delicious!

Mantiqueira mountain range in fog

I brought back several jars of guava products in my luggage. The guava jam and fruit in syrup pictured here are just two examples. We’ve already eaten through almost two jars of the jam since our return about two weeks ago, spreading it on bread or cake for breakfast. Another great way to serve it is as an appetizer with cheese and wine, similar to quince jam and cheese with wine.

I’ve seen fresh white guava for sale at the Alemany Farmers’ Market. I spoke with one of the farmers who says she also grows the red but the season was later in the year. Guava jam is sometimes available at specialty and Brazilian markets. When we lived in Queens it wasn’t that hard to find. In San Francisco, I’ve mostly seen the guava bar variety and guava mixed with doce de leite at Brazilian markets. If you do bump into guava jam at your market don’t hesitate to try it. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

preserved guava jam and fruit

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

tasteofbeirut March 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I saw some white guava at Fiesta, the latino market here and immediately bought it. I want to make the jam, I think it is usually the same weight in sugar as the weight of the fruit. I also read an article in Men’s health that said that guava is one of the 10 best foods to eat because of the incredible nutrients in it. Whatever!

sonia September 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Quando eu era pequena,quantas vezes vi minha mãe fazer goiabada cascão na cidade em que morávamos no interior de SP.Nunca esqueço,porque era uma festa,no dia anterior ,nosso funcionário ajudava minha mãe a colher as goiabas e na manhã seguinte,logo cedo,começava todo mundo a descascar as frutas.Lembro que minha mãe guardava as cascas e o miolo e fazia geléia e a polpa,era então levada para um grande tacho de cobre,misturada com açúcar cristal e ía mexendo com uma pá de madeira,levava o dia inteiro,nossa que delícia,só de lembrar me dá água na boca…que saudades.Minha mãe fazia também doce em calda,lembro com saudades,da época em que todos meus irmãos e eu,estudávamos fora,quando íamos nas férias para casa,minha mãe,já nos esperava com a despensa cheia de doces,quando voltávamos,levavámos varios vidros,de doces,de pimenta,de tempero…aí que saudades.
Faz oito anos que mamãe faleceu…quando leio aqui nos blogs,sobre as coisas que ela também fazia,bate uma saudade,que chega a doer…tudo passa na vida.
Minas para mim,é um estado de espírito,como dizem os mineiros.Já morei lá,em Pouso Alegre,nunca esqueci,quem sabe um dia voltaremos…

Heguiberto September 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Obrigado por dividir conosco essas memorias bonitas da sua infância. Comigo acontecia a mesma coisa todo ano por volta do final de fevereiro todo mundo da familia arregaçava as mangas para ajudar no preparo de goiabadas, doces da casca em calda e do meu favorito as geleias da polpa. Tinhamos estoque para quase o ano todo. Delicioso! Eu sou de perto de Pouso Alegre um vilarejo chamado Olegário Maciel. Abraços. Heguiberto

ritatower October 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Wow, Guava’s are the best. I need to find me some like in your picture. Mouthwatering!

Heguiberto October 11, 2010 at 9:05 am

I haven”t seen them here yet. If you do let us know, we love guava

Akiko November 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Amei o website! Encontrei por acaso qdo procurava receita de doce de abobora!
Este post de geleia de goiaba eh otimo. Eu moro perto de San Jose, CA e qdo vou ao supermercado japones Marukai em Cupertino, eles tem uma area soh para produtos havaianos. Lah encontro meu potinho de guava jam quase identico aa nossa geleia de goiaba brasileira! Eh um pouco mais leve mas fica otimo com uma fatia de “queso panela” ou “queso panela” mexicanos… Incrivel como a gente tenta se virar com produtos alternativos! Parabens pelo blog!

Heguiberto November 2, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Oi Akiko,
Somos vizinhos!
Uma das coisas que mais sinto falta do Brasil, sem contar a família e amigos, é daqueles doces de goiaba que a minha mãe fazia. Qualquer hora que for à San Jose quero vistar esse mercado de que vc fala. Comida Japonesa é outra das minhas favoritas, vou aproveitar para também comprar uns desses potinhos de guava jam para provar.
Obrigadão pela vista! O blog é um projeto que tínhamos e finalmente virou realidade. A experiência tem sido boa.

Beatriz February 22, 2017 at 4:24 pm

adoro goiaba… um das minhas frutas preferidas!

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