Mexican Guayabas Are Here!
Sweet and spicy
Perhaps you have noticed a smallish, rounded, yellow fruit in your local grocery stores recently that is unfamiliar. They are Mexican guayabas, known in English as guavas. The first time I saw them locally, I bought a pile and made homemade ice cream; the sweet-tart flavor and tropical aroma immediately transported me back home to Mexico. Some of my happiest childhood memories are the weekends I spent at my friend Georgina Gleason's house in Tepotzlán, a quaint town (now flooded with tourists) south of Mexico City where we'd climb the guayaba trees to eat our fill before jumping in the pool or exploring the creek bed. Unfortunately, unlike the larger, sturdier Hawaiian pink guavas, Mexican guayabas do not travel well. Due to their delicate nature and propensity to harbor pests, it was not until 2008 that the Department of Agriculture finally and fortunately approved their importation into the U.S., under strict quality control standards.
Guayabas are not only delicious; they are also full of nutrients and fiber, as well as a higher vitamin C content than any citrus fruit. They contain significant amounts of vitamin A; lycopene and beta-carotenes, both powerful antioxidants; plus an important amount of B complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin. They're also loaded with potassium and other essential minerals. Because of the diversity of weather conditions and climate in Mexico, it is possible to find guayabas practically year-round. Guayaba trees are at their peak of production in winter, so in Mexico, the fruits are popular during the holidays, when they are stuffed into piñatas and cooked in the traditional Christmas punch. In February, guayaba tamales and atole are among the most delicious treats.
To promote Mexican guayabas in the U.S., a national tour was launched with a stop in Austin, where chefs Victor Arellano and Omar Covarrubias treated us to all kinds of recipes featuring the newly arriving fruit. The highlight for me was the fresh guayaba margarita, made with Los Tres Garcías tequila from Arandas, in the highlands of Jalisco. From appetizers to main dishes, sauces for cooking or passing at the table, and, of course, desserts, these fruits are highly versatile and unique. Look for these fabulous little fruits at your local grocery; I've found them both at Fiesta and at various H-E-B stores.