Not commonly grown in the United States, guava are even a rare sighting in grocery stores, but when you do encounter this tropical fruit, know how to choose one that will provide the best flavor. Ripe guavas may be eaten raw or cooked into a jelly, dessert filling, meat glaze or accompaniment to mild, white cheese.

The oval-shaped fruit comes in many colors, including green, dark purple, white and pink. Determine whether a guava is ripe not by its color or feel, but rather by its scent.

  • A strong, aromatic odor emanating from a guava indicates it's at its prime. 
  • A ripe guava boasts a mildly acidic flavor and gets sweeter as you dig deeper into the fruit. The seeds and peel are edible, but the peel can be bitter so you might choose to peel them. The texture is much like that of a pear -- slightly gritty and slightly soft. 
  • A ripe guava is slightly soft and yields to pressure. If the interior fruit is white, the guava isn't ripe. Unfortunately, you can't figure this out until it's too late.

A ripe guava lasts three to five days. Guavas that are extremely squishy or that have evidence of small holes are not suitable for eating. If their perfume smells sour or fermented, it's also a sign that they are no longer palatable. Bruised guavas may not have spoiled but aren't optimal either. If you open a guava and find the gelatinous fruit has turned brown, it has spoiled.

Guava has a flavor all its own, but is often described as tasting like a mix of strawberries, bananas and pineapple. You can find them in high-end markets or Latin American grocery stores.

Add chopped guava to fruit salad or puree the flesh to make a jelly, a base for ice cream or a sauce for desserts and meats, such as ham.