The guava tree at my great grand-parent’s house in Bangalore drove me crazy. As the tree bore fruit, the strong-sweet smell around the house was intoxicating and all I ever wanted to do was climb the tree to grab one of the green-yellow fruit. The only catch was that after just a few bites I’d get this unexplainable stomach ache that drove me nuts for the rest of the day.
That didn’t deter me. Instead it was like I was addicted to the fruit. I loved the creamy flesh and only a ripe guava would have that bite from the seeds. I loved the way the hands smelt after all the juice had oozed all over it. And like clockwork, every time I’d see a ripe guava, I’d climb up the tree and bite into the fruit and within minutes the tummy ache would begin. Week after week, I’d suffer but giving up on that ripe guava never occurred to me.
It wasn’t until a few years later that my grandmother figured that it wasn’t really the fruit but the seeds that didn’t work for me. So each morning, instead of waiting for the guava tree-stomach ache drama to unfold, she’d scoop out the seeds from a few guavas and set them at the breakfast table.
You see, she was a great propagator of the fruit. Being rich in Vitamin A and C, this tropical fruit is great for the skin and hair. You can actually call it a powerhouse of nutrients – folic acid, potassium, copper and manganese all help regenerate skin cells and combat hair loss problems. So much so, that several cosmetic companies use it in a number of hair and skin treatments and creams. She’d make packs with the fruits – mashing up seeds and pulp with a bit of honey and apply it all over our faces, and even make a pack out of the peels by mashing it in a mortar and pestle and then adding a bit of turmeric and milk.
Guavas are also a great source of Vitamin K, which helps in treating skin discoloration and problems like dark circles, acne irritation and redness. Using to fruit as a scrub helps in improving the skin’s complexion and also removes impurities making it look young and fresh. Guava contains an antioxidant called lycopene that helps in shielding your skin against the damaging UV rays. Since it contains about 80% of water it helps in keeping your skin hydrated and supple. Being a rich source of Vitamin C, guava is a fruit that helps in promoting hair growth.
Eating the guava raw or with a bit of chaat masala wasn’t the only way she’d feed us this fruit. She’d jam it, make murabbas with it or sometimes even juice it. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized, there were about a hundred other ways to use the guava. While buying guavas, make sure you pick firm ones without any blemishes or soft spots.
When you’re using them in a dessert make sure it’s ripe – the white guava (on the inside) turns almost yellow when it’s ripe whereas the pink guava (on the inside) turns a lighter shade of green – and both the varieties of fruit will be slightly soft to touch. If you want to hasten its ripening, it’s a good idea to keep it outside in a brown paper bag, otherwise if you’d like to hang on to it for a few weeks before you eat them, store them in refrigerator away from any other fruit
From souffles to crumbles to even vegetable curries – just so much could be done with the fruit. But my favourite way of using up ripe guavas has always been making a fool. What’s a fool you ask? A fool is any fruit puree mixed with whipped cream and a bit of sugar. Served up like a souffle, it’s a low effort dessert that gives terrific results each time. It barely takes any time to make, and keeps well for a day or two. Make and see for yourself.
4 ripe guavas
200 ml whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar (or more according to how sweet the fruit is)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1. Wash and dry the guavas. Chop them without removing the peel and add to a blender. Blend until you get a nice puree. It will be gritty because of the seeds, but don’t worry, that’s exactly what you want. Keep aside in the refrigerator for about 2 to 4 hours.
2. When you’re ready to serve, whip the cream until you get firm peaks, add vanilla (optional) and icing sugar.
3. Fold the whipped cream into the fruit puree and immediately pour into individual serving cups. Serve chilled.