Homegrown & Homemade Guava Paste
Lately I’ve been on a foraging kick. It seems that, no matter where we go, there’s something tempting to forage here in Southern California. Just the other day I stumbled on a tree choc full of olives starting to turn color. Then, on a recent hike a friend and I found hundreds of ripe prickly pears and even tasted one. A local trail has some pomegranates (they are small from lack of water, so I let the birds enjoy them), and finally there are guavas starting to plump and ripen on trees!
While I love foraging for things I don’t grow here at home (like the prickly pear and olives), I’ve got plenty of guavas ripening on my tree currently. In fact, our guava tree was so loaded with fruit this year that I needed to find a way to use and preserve a large portion of them. And that’s why today’s blogpost is about how I made homemade guava paste as a way to preserve all that delicious guava seasonal goodness.
Guava Season in Southern California
For me, guava season typically starts anywhere from August/September and ends in October/November. If you’re looking for a way to process a lot of homegrown guavas, this homemade guava paste is a great solution. As someone who typically eats guavas fresh, I had no idea that a lot of guava dishes actually utilize guava paste in lieu of fresh guava. Furthermore, in the several years I’ve been growing guava, I’ve never had huge amounts to use and would therefore just enjoy them raw rather than looking for preservation recipes.
What types of guava do I grow here in zone 10b? Guava trees are warm, tropical plants. All varieties desire plenty of sun and well-draining, fertile soil in order to produce the most delicious fruits. Guavas tend to do well here in zone 10 where we rarely get frosts. In fact, we have family that grows a white pulp variety and my mom grows little lemon guavas. Local neighborhoods have pink flesh ones, and there are also red fleshed ones…truly a wide assortment! And before you go and buy a guava tree, I’d definitely make an effort to try as many different types of guava fruits as you can because even I, as a fellow guava-lover, have a pretty strong preference.
Personally, I like to eat guavas fresh, which is why I ended up with a Red Malaysian Guava tree. This particular variety of guava is creamy and sweet when ripe, and pretty low in tannins. Though the name has the word “red” in it, the flesh itself is actually more like a pink-purple. In fact, the “red” is probably in reference to the beautiful red evergreen foliage of this tree rather than the flesh. Another variety of guava I truly enjoy eating is lemon guava. This particular guava stays small (smaller than a golf ball) and, if left to truly ripen on the plant, is super juicy and tastes like sweet lemonade! I’m drooling just thinking about it…
What types of guava are best for guava paste?
From what I’ve seen and read, it’s mainly the creamier pink fleshed guavas that make the best paste when ripe. For one, the paste turns out a gorgeous color! You might be able to make paste from a lighter fleshed guava, but it won’t have the same presentation. Also, I think the balance of tannins, sweetness and texture make pink-flesh guavas ideal for processing. For example, my lemon guava is super juicy and has a higher water content, which doesn’t lend so well to cooking.
This year our Red Malaysian guava produced a larger crop than ever before! In an effort to not let any fruit go to waste, I started to research ways to preserve guavas more long term. Yes, I did my best to eat all the fruit I could (and share some) but I guess even I have a limit on fresh fruit consumption! Thankfully, I stumbled upon the fact that most guava dishes actually require guava paste as opposed to fresh guava—and paste keeps much longer. Therefore, making my own homemade guava paste would allow me to preserve the guava harvest for a little longer.
The Inspiration for Guava Paste
Where have I had guava paste before? Guava paste is made by cooking down guava puree with sugar. It becomes thick enough to hold its own shape, like a gummy candy. I’m most familiar with guava paste in Cuban dishes, but it’s very popular in many Latin American countries. Making homemade guava paste is almost like making jam, but you cook it down to a different consistency. You’ll see from the photos that my homemade guava paste turned out a lot like jello/candy/gummies.
I’ve had a few memorable guava treats from local places in the past—one of my favorites being pastelitos de guayaba! Our local Porto’s bakery has an assortment of guava desserts, but the pastelitos de guayaba is one of my favorites. If you aren’t familiar with Porto’s, it’s a delicious Cuban bakery that sells cakes, breads, pastries and more! We were so happy when a location opened up near us in Buena Park. If you ever go, get some of their guava pastries but also nab some of their papa rellenas! They are potato balls filled with beef and there’s also one filled with a cheese and peppers that I like too).
The other Orange County restaurant that turned me on to cooking with guavas was Anelpalcos. Years ago, we met our cousins at this local Mexican restaurant….well, we were living in Santa Ana at the time, so it was closer than it is now. At the time, this restaurant was known for their guava french toast and their huevos divorciados . Let me tell you, this was the first time I had eaten guava in a preparation that wasn’t raw or in juice, and I absolutely loved it! As I said, this was many years ago, so I had to google the restaurant to see if it was still around. It appears there are now two locations (when we went the restaurant was very small and on Main street) but I did spy the guava french toast! Honestly, I can’t vouch for what it is like these days, but I will always remember the guava french toast that made my appreciation for guavas grow.
How to Make Homemade Guava Paste
The process of making your own homemade guava paste is pretty straightforward. Essentially, you cook down your chopped guavas with some water to soften them and make it easier to strain out the seeds. After cooking, blend the guava and then strain out all the seeds. The resulting mixture is your guava puree! From there, you add sugar, lemon and COOK! Keep cooking this mixture down until it reaches the proper consistency, and then put it in the fridge to set.
Originally, I had set out to make guava juice, but soon realized I had tons of puree left. Therefore, I was limited on what recipe I could try because I had to find a recipe that gave me measurements for how much guava pulp to start with (as opposed to pounds of guavas). I don’t recommend changing gears like that—thankfully, you’re here because you know you want to make guava paste from the start. For the most part, I used the guava paste recipe from Yummy Addiction and it turned out great!
Ingredients for Guava Paste
*recipe from Yummy Addiction
This recipe can also be halved easily.
5 pounds fresh guavas *see notes on types of guavas to use
2 cups water
1 Large lemon, for juice and zest
5 Cups sugar, white
If you need more detailed photos or instructions, you can view the original recipe HERE, but the following is my own experience making homemade guava paste for the first time!
Let’s Make Guava Paste!
Take your guavas and chop them up into cubes that are about 1/2 inch big. My guava had kind of tough ends, so I chopped off the ends just a bit. I left the skins on because it wasn’t a tough skin.
Add the pieces to a large pot and add the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the guava is softened (about 35-45 minutes). The guava will start to break down and should easily mash.
Let the mixture cool enough to add to a blender and blend. You don’t want to blend the seeds. Simply blend the guava into a puree.
Now friends, this next step can take some time and patience! Take your guava puree and strain it into large measuring cup. I used a silicone spatula to help push the puree through the strainer, but it will seem like it goes very slowly. This process gets rid of the guava seeds. In the end you’ll have about 8 cups of guava puree
Combine your strained guava puree, the lemon juice from one lemon (plus the zest) into a saucepan on the stove.
Bring your mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and then gradually start adding your sugar. The recipe says to do this a cup of sugar at a time.
STIR often and don’t leave your pot on the stove! Continue to simmer your guava paste mixture on the stove. Ideally, you need to keep cooking and stirring until the mixture is so thick that you can draw a line on the bottom of the pan with your spoon and it doesn’t fill in…..and if you aren’t sure, keep cooking! The first time I made this I didn’t cook the mixture enough and it didn’t set properly. Definitely plan for about an hour of cooking!
Set, Cut, and Store Your Homemade Guava Paste!
We are almost done! Once you have cooked the mixture enough, transfer it to a parchment lined dish. Let it cool slightly in your kitchen and then cover and put in the fridge to finish setting overnight.
The next day, turn out your guava paste block (hopefully it set), and decide how you want to store it. You can keep it as a block, or cut it into cubes or slices. However you’ll use it!
To store your guava paste, simply wrap it tightly with parchment or plastic wrap and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. Most sources say it will keep for 3 months if stored properly. Obviously, use your best judgement and always inspect for signs of spoilage before using.
How to Use Guava Paste
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert here, but my plans for homemade guava paste are as follows:
First, I’m going to try and make my favorite pastelitos from scratch using this recipe from A Sassy Spoon.
Guava paste and cheese are a classic combo (called bocadillo con queso in Colombia), so I’m going to make a guava and cream cheese french toast from The Little Arepa. In fact, the guava sauce from that recipe would probably work great over pancakes too. *update: I made these and they were so good! My only advice would be to take note of the serving size (this recipe made two smaller-sized french toasts for me). Also, I made the guava sauce ahead of time. it was too thick for my taste, so I scooped out what I needed into a micorwave safe dish and whisked in some more syrup. Then, I microwaved it for a tiny bit. Personally, I felt this made the most incredible guava syrup!
Last year Sam and I created an assortment of garden-inspired homemade cookies for Christmas. I’ve been eyeing these guava and cream cheese thumbprint cookies from Masala and Chai.
Other suggestions I’ve recieved are guava cake and guava bars (like lemon bars but with guava).
At this point, I’ll be lucky if I get through all these ideas with the amount of time and paste I have! Feel free to leave your favorite recipes or suggestions for guava paste in the comments below.
Enjoy my friends!