Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All About Strawberry Guava

Compared to other guava types, cattleys prefer to sink into the shadows rather than take the limelight. Despite its modesty, cattley guava packs a sour, tangy punch reminiscent of cranberry and strawberry. Like its guava cousins, it too offers a mouthful of seeds requiring spitting. Although Indian farmers carefully nurture guavas soils, cattleys fight to grow in the underbrush and neglected soils of the countryside. Nature rewards the fruit’s perseverance, as each tree offers a bounty of fruits twice a year in India.

According to the “Encyclopedia of Fruits and Nuts,” cattley guava is native to the coastlines of Brazil and parts of Uruguay.

Today, the fruit grows in Malaysia, the Philippines, California, Sri Lanka, India, southern Europe, subtropical Africa and parts of South and Central America. Cultivation requires subtropical and tropical humidity, and they thrive in conditions between 25-30C. Cattle guavas withstand frost better than most other guava varieties.

Availability of Cattley Guava in India
Cattley guava has two seasons in India: January-February, and again from July-August. Gardeners follow the general rule of thumb that the plant can grow in the same conditions required for citrus. If anything, farmers have to ensure the tree doesn’t turn invasive, and keep the tree within carefully drawn perimeters.

Though cattley guava’s specific production figures aren’t known, the book, “Fruit Crops,” states that guava cultivation is India’s fourth largest fruit crop after mango, banana and citrus, respectively. Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh is the country’s largest growing guava district, but regions conducive to growing the fruit include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Assam, Odisha, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.

Where to find Cattley Guava in India
Unlike other larger guava varieties, the lowly cattley guava is more difficult to find in stores. Most trees are ornamental or grown in home gardens. When in season, the greatest possibility of finding the fruit is by scavenging the rural produce stalls. If one didn’t know any better, a person might mistake the guava for the ubiquitous pomegranate because of its crown-like protrusion. Of course, the strawberry guava is much smaller.

Checking for Ripeness in Strawberry Guava

Cattley guavas turn fully red or yellow when ripe. Touch the fruit, as it should be pliable and soft. Pull the small fruit from the tree—if ripe, it should come off with ease. Most fruits grow no larger than a golf ball, although the yellow types may grow slightly larger. Like other guavas, cattleys have a gorgeous, floral aroma when ripe.

Taste of Strawberry Guava
Many liken the taste of a cattleys to strawberries on account of their sharp tanginess and pinch of sweetness. Others say that strawberry guavas resemble passion fruit with a hint of spiciness. The thin, edible skin tastes like the smell of rose petals and when ripe, has the same heady aroma common to other guava types. Compared to the common guava, strawberry guavas have a more “delicate” taste, but still possess an acidic bite. Underripe cattley guavas are astringent, medicinal, and possess a menthol flavor.

Like other guavas, the fruit’s juicy, translucent flesh contains seeds.

The flesh nearest the skin is grainy and coarse. Near the center, the flesh is soft, sweet, pulpy and translucent. Regrettably, the seeds are also concentrated in the center of the fruit.

Nutritional Value in Strawberry Guava
The nutritional value is comparable to the common guava, but it contains twice the amount of calcium. In fact, tamarind is one of the only fruits that surpass the strawberry guava’s calcium content.

According to the USDA nutrient database, the nutrition information of strawberry guava for 100g of edible flesh is:

69 kcal
17.4g carb (17% RDI)
5.4g of Fiber (22% RDI)
.6g of Fat (1% RDI)
.1g Omega-3 (6% RDI)
.2g Omega-6 (2% RDI)
protein (negligible)
3% RDI B1/Thiamine
3% RDI B2/Riboflavin
4% RDI B3/Niacin
37mg of Vitamin C (49% RDI)
21mg of Copper (2% RDI)
17mg of Magnesium
27mg of Phosphorous (4% RDI)
282mg of Potassium (6% RDI)

Health Benefits of Cattley Guava
According to the book, “Tropical and Subtropical Fruits,” Mexico, Latin America, Africa and Asia are but a handful of areas using the fruit, branch, flowers and leaves in traditional health remedies.
--Some cultures use strawberry guavas to relieve diarrhea and dysentery, as the fruit’s astringent compounds have anti-bacterial and disinfectant properties. Other cattley guava nutrients that help the intestines and bowels include carotenoids, potassium and vitamin C.
--Cattley guava’s low sugar and high fiber help relieve acidosis and remedy constipation.
--In Ayurveda, cattley guavas are used to relieve asthma, colds, flus, and parasites. Guava, with its high vitamin C, is loaded with mucus thinners and respiratory-fighting properties.
--Its vitamin C content also keeps scurvy and swollen gums at bay.
-- Guava is rich with skin-boosting elements including B-vitamins, antioxidants and vitamin C. These nutrients tone and clear the skin.
-- Guava’s high fiber coupled with its low sugar keeps blood pressure stable and may reduce hypertension.

The medical community has affirmed several of these health benefits, including the fruit’s anticancer properties:
--A 2009 study published in Scientific Research and Essay found that the guava’s leaves showed antibacterial activity against strains that exacerbate surgical wounds, burns, and skin infections.
--A 2011 study published in Food Chemistry indicates that cattley guava fruit extracts have phenolic compounds with potent antioxidant activity, antimicrobial and antiproliferative activities when tested on human cancer cells.
--According to a 2012 study published in Nutrition and Cancer, cattley guava leaves may inhibit tumor metastasis in lung cancer cells.

--A 2011 study published in Academy of Chemistry of Globe Publications affirms the leaf’s potent cytotoxic activity based on its ability to induce cell death in human cancer cells, including cervical, leukemia, lung, gastric, and stomach cancers.

How to open/cut
Remove the calyx, or, the crown-like protrusion near the bottom of the fruit, and wash thoroughly. Cattley guava’s small size makes it ideal to eat out of hand. Some brazen souls with teeth of steel don’t mind crunching the seeds, but at best they should be swallowed. Even the smallest fruit contains approximately 15-25 seeds.

With practice and dexterity, it’s possible to peel the skin and a layer of flesh and leave only the ball of sweet pulp and seeds.

Cattley guava’s small size makes it difficult to extract the seeds from the flesh. The best method to remove the seeds is to scoop out the flesh and then boil the pulp for approximately 30 minutes. For every pound of fruit, use approximately 4 cups of water. Once the water has cooled, strain mix through cheesecloth. Put the newly de-seeded, pulpy concoction back on the stove and boil. Add up to 2 cups of sugar, and slowly stir the pulp until it has become thick and mildly creamy. This pulp doubles as jam.

Cattley guavas will ripen and grow softer once picked from the tree. If not yet soft, keep the fruits at room temperature for three to four days. In the refrigerator, the fruits will keep a week. In cool storage, keep the temperature between 40-60F. Keep fruits out of the freezer, as they do not tolerate frost well.

Strawberry Guava Recipe Ideas
--Add the de-seeded pulp to salad dressings by combining it with vinegar, onion, and pepper. To emulsify the dressing, add olive oil in a slow stream while whisking the mix vigorously. Pour the dressing atop a salad of baby lettuce, pineapple, mango, roasted cashews and diced green onion.
--Add the pulp atop tropical fruit sorbets, such coconut or pineapple flavor.
--Mix the pulp and stir in rose water beverages, as the flavor complements cattley guava’s skin.
--Mix the puree into fruity cocktails such as daiquiris and pina coladas. The puree works best in icy, slushy beverage recipes.
--Strawberry guavas go well in juices and smoothies, especially with other tropical fruits like bananas and pineapple.

Note: Do not substitute strawberry guavas with other types of guavas, as the flavors won’t quite match.

Flavor Complements
Fruit: Banana, calamondin, Buddha’s hand, bullock’s heart, cactus pear, cherry, citron, custard apple, coconut, dragon fruit, feijoa, giant granadilla, guava, kiwi, lemon, lime, mangosteen, nectarine, orange, papaya, passion fruit, peach, pear, pineapple, sour orange, soursop, strawberry

Herbs, spices, and oil: Sugar, mint, basil, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, sumac, verbena, lavender, eucalyptus, pine, rose water, citrus rind, passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, vodka, gin, green tea, sunflower seeds, cashew, walnut, pecan, salt, pepper, vinegar, chives, shallots, soy sauce

Random fact
The cattley guava tree is one of the biggest threats facing the Hawaiian forests. According to the US Forest Service, the tree crowds out the native plants and disrupts the local animal communities.

Scientific Name:
Psidium cattleianum
Psidium littorale
Psidium chinense

Other Names:
Chinese guava
Strawberry guava


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