It’s guava season. And as those who have ever been around a guava know, it’s a difficult period. The guava, it must be said, has an intense scent that is strong, pungent and long-lasting, and off-putting to those who don’t know better. But the fruit — well, the fruit is worth its olfactory effect. Encased by an unassuming, bumpy yellow skin, the sweet interior — either pink or white in shade, kiwi-like in texture — is worth the wait.
And, it turns out the guava is good for whatever ails you, according to Dr. Arnon Dag, an Israeli researcher from the Gilat Research Center who is working on guavas for export. As a fruit rich in vitamin C and iron, as well as that all-important lycopene, it’s long been used by those from Asian countries for healing coughs and colds, stomach complaints, skin care, scurvy and even as a weight-loss aid — given all that filling and tasty fiber. And, given the Israeli efforts to develop a new guava variety that will be suitable for export, this ten-year project has come up with a guava that has “low odour intensity” and improved storage ability, according to Dag.
So it’s beloved by those who know it well. In fact, when Israel was incriminated in last year’s Stuxnet computer worm that beset Iran, two file directory names, myrtus and guava, were linked to Israel for their biblical roots in the Purim-Queen Esther story. Queen Esther intervened with the king of Persia – now Iran — to save the Jewish people; her Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means myrtle in Hebrew. Guavas are also part of the myrtle family of fruit, making them of particular interest during the recent fall holiday of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles when people hold myrtles with the lulav, the palm fronds shaken during the holiday.
Here in Israel, they’ve been known for the last 120 years. But the question remains, are you a guava lover or not?
Here’s an easy way to try guavas. Blend the fruit into an easy and tasty cake — no worries about lingering guava aromas in the house — by recipe developer Phyllis Glazer. The only caveat — guavas and strawberries are not in season at the same time in Israel, so use frozen berries.
Guava Cake with Strawberry Sauce
1/5 cups brown sugar
4 tblspn yogurt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tspn baking powder
2 tspn baking soda
1 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tspn cloves
1/4 tspn ginger
1/4 tspn nutmeg
1.5 cups guava paste (see instructions below)
2 cups strawberries, rinsed
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tblspn cherry liqeuer or orange cherry herring
2 tspn sugar, preferably Demarara
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Using electric mixer, mix butter, sugar and yogurt until smooth
3. Sift all dry ingredients together and add to mixture
4. Prepare guava puree: Cross them, no need to peel. Remove the seeds. Blend the remaining in food processor.
5. Stir guava puree into butter mixture.
6. Pour into buttered and paper-lined tube cake pan.
7. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
8. Make the strawberry sauce in a food processor or blender. Can be fridged up to one week.
9. Pour over cake.