G is for Guava
Guava is a tropical fruit native to Central America and northern South America. It belongs to the Myrtle family, genus Psidium (or pomegranate) with about 100 species of tropical shrubs and small trees. It is known as Goiaba in Portuguese and Guayaba in Spanish. Guava fruit is often bitter when unripe, soft and sweet when ripe---tastes something between a pear and strawberry, tangy with a citrus flavor. The fruit is usually green before maturity, but becomes yellow, maroon or light green when ripe.
Guava is one of my favorite fruits, and one of the first trees I climbed when I was a kid. There were a couple of guava trees in our yard and I virtually lived on guava trees--my grandfather called me a guava-eating bat.
The guava in our yard has small fruits, about the size of a lemon, and has a distinct aroma when it ripened. The pulp also turned red when the fruit was ripe. It's the kind of guava that is used as a souring agent in sinigang, a popular Filipino soup dish.
Guavas produce fruits all-year round. My mother used to cook ripe guavas in sugar and coconut milk---it was my father's favorite dessert.
There is a fruit stand a few blocks from my apartment selling guapple, or Apple Guava---I buy 2 kilos every 3 to 4 days. From cookies, chips and chocolates, I've switched to guapple, a healthier snack. Guapple is an extra-large variety--a fruit weighs about 500 grams, about 5 to 6 inches long It has a thick and white-fleshed fruit, and the crunchiness of an apple.
Guavas are a good source of Vitamin C and A, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, copper and manganese. It has a low calorie profile, and a single guava fruit contains about four times the amount of Vitamin C of an orange. Fruits are usually eaten raw, ripe fruits can be processed to jelly, wine and jam preserves.
Apple Guava, Psidium guajava
Guava leaves have been used in folk medicine for as long as I can remember. Decoction of leaves in water is a good cure for diarrhea---my mother still treats my dog with this concoction when he has the runs. It is also used as an astringent, mouthwash for swollen gums, reduces fever and anti-spasmodic. Bark and leaves are used in childbirth to expel the placenta. The bark is recommended in making complex cosmetics. Young tender leaves chewed or crushed applied to tooth cavity acts as eugenol for toothaches.
But there's one use of guava leaves that would make you shudder. In far-flung areas of the country where traditional circumcision method is still being practiced, pre-adolescent boys who undergo this procedure are given guava leaves to chew on to distract them from the pain. The chewed guava leaves is applied to the cut foreskin with the dressing. It is believed that guava leaves have antiseptic and anti-hemorrhagic properties. I remember over-hearing my brothers and male cousins talking about some boy we knew in childhood who swallowed the chewed guava leaves instead of spitting it out in the middle of traditional circumcision. Poor boy! But I couldn't help but laugh at the thought! I hope I wouldn't run into the guy in one of our elementary school reunions.:p
Guava has been found to be beneficial to people suffering from asthma, bacterial infections, convulsions, high blood pressure, obesity, oral ulcers, poor circulation, prolonged menstruation, scurvy, swollen gums, toothache, and lung congestion.