Guava

Kaie (kai) in Kodava dialect, seebekai/seebehannu in Kannada & perekka in Malayam, guava is one of the most common fruits in Kodagu. Kaie is the general term used for raw & pannu for ripened fruit. The term Kaie must have coined from the fact that it is one of the very few fruits which can be relished before ripening. There are two types of guava, kadkaie (wild guava) & jathikaie (hybrid guava). Kadkaie is little hard but tastier than the jathikaie. Jathikaie is the Apple variety or the common guava is inexpensive & sold all over Karnataka on every street corners. Size varies from species to species & now even one kilo guava is also available!! Since you find the kadkaie in the almost all houses, plantations, in the forest, besides the paddy field, creeks & river banks, one may wonder if guava is native to Kodagu? Most of the households use the leaves, flowers, immature fruits, bark & roots as medicine, particularly tender leaves for diarrhea. Sometimes it is given in combination with the pomegranate leaves. I vaguely remember my mother giving it to me when I was little & I have trust in it, particularly the kadkaie. Research is being conducted to find the medicinal properties of guava tree. {see the bottom of the article for the medicinal properties}.

 

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Wild guavas grow on its own from the dispersed seed either by bird dropping or human/animals. There are also seedless guavas in apple variety grown from grafted plant. Light brown ever green tree with green leaf &, the trunks & branches have an attractive smooth bark that flakes off in patches (like the eucalyptus tree). The tree is pretty strong & can carry normal human weight easily & most of the time when you bend the branch to pluck the fruits it does not break also. Buds looks almost like a rose bud. The lightly fragranced milky white flowers are a beauty in its own right & looks as if it is smiling at you filling your heart with delight. From birth till ripe the guava is dark green then it turns light green. If you have strong set of teeth it the time to eat so says the birds. Finally it turns pale yellow or off white. Wild red guava has darker yellow colour when ripe than the normal one. (In the picture you can see a beautifully groomed wild red guava tree standing majestically.)

Guavas from the myrtle family genus psidium are supposed to be more than 100 species. Depending on cultivar the flesh inside may be white, red, pink, or yellowish. Both jathi & kad kaie comes in white/cream or pink {only when ripe & normally called chonda kaie (red guava)} flesh. Depending on the species Guava can be long, round or oval & the skin can be any thickness, is usually green before maturity, but becomes yellow, maroon, or green when ripe. The outer skin is rough before maturity & if eaten leaves a strange taste in the mouth & throat. It tastes best when it is about to ripe before turning yellow. During the season birds particularly parrots & bats have gala time & we have to compete with them for the best fruits. When we were young we plucked the half bird eaten guavas (then there was no bird flu…hahaha) & cut off the eaten part & relished the remaining. And believe me it was the sweetest… you can find out yourself, try it out.

Normally by sight we can make out if it is ready to eat or not. Sometimes the guava looks lighter even when not ready to eat. Easiest way to know if ready is by pinching with the finger nail: A simple but effective technique. The apple guava becomes soft when ripe & just pressing between the palms will break it open. when over ripe, particularly during the rainy season it has worms in it. so make sure to check it before eating. don’t worry you won’t die if you eat by mistakeEmoji.

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Once yellow, it becomes soft & the ripe fruit becomes aromatic filling the room with its distinctive aroma making its presence felt. Some people do not like the smell!! If there are enough water supply, you find few fruits here & there almost throughout the year. The flower calyx persists on the ripe fruit & most of the time you find tiny harmless ants sheltering under it & when you touch it runs all over you tickling. Often you find black heads on the guava but this is not harmful to eat. I simply remove it with my nail or knife or just bite & spit it. I have done it a thousand times & still alive & kicking!! We just call it kajji (meaning boils) kaie. Wondering if guavas get pimples toooooo hum.

It is made into juice, punch, sauce, fruit salads, candies, desserts, jellies, jams, marmalades, etc. Juice is delicious… I have never tasted the guava wine… may be one day will try it out… I have tried guavas from quite a few countries & found that the wild guavas of Kodagu, particularly during the summer are the tastiest!! Something cannot be explained it has to be experienced. In rainy season it is not very tasty, just add little salt & chillie powder & eat it. Some use plum powder mixed with sugar & salt too.

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Medicinal properties of Guava:

The juice of the leaves is said to provide relief from cold & cough by reducing the formation of mucus, disinfecting the respiratory tract & preventing bacterial activity in the throat due to its astringent properties. Safe to give to children too. Kadkai is more potent.

Guava leave & fruit is also infused into tea which is used as medicine. Guavas supposed to contain as much potassium as banana, 4 times more vitamin C than an orange, copper, manganese (which acts as an enzyme activator utilising nutrients like thiamine, biotin & ascorbic acid), Vitamin A (good for vision), B group of vitamin (good for blood circulation, brain & nerve function).

Guavas are supposed to be antimicrobial/antibacterial, astringent, dysentery & fever. It does not cure but helps reduces cholesterol, balance BP, diabetics, good for constipation, an antioxidant, etc. Good for the skin too. Because of its Vitamin E content, astringent properties & antioxidants, the skin is nourished. Lycopene protects the skin from being damaged by UV rays & also works against prostate cancer. Pink guavas are said to contain twice the amount of lycopene present in tomatoes.

Women with fertility problems can eat guavas as they contain a good amounts of folate, which contain fertility-promoting properties.

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One unusual thing you may not have heard before… My beloved older sister Rani used to eat hard guava munching thoroughly saying it cleanses the mouth & teeth as good as floss. Even though I did not pay attention then, now it makes lot of sense to me because her teeth are stronger & healthier than mine!!

Hey guys what are you waiting for… if not for any benefits just enjoy eating guava… next time when you see a guava tree scavenge through you will definitely get lucky & the off season ones taste really great. Grow a tree in your garden which does not require any special attention.

Australian guava {Cattley Guava (Psidium cattleianum)}: Even though it is known as Australian guava in Kodagu, this variety is said to be native to Brazil & is known as strawberry guava. May be it was first imported from Australia!! This small (slightly bigger than the thumb) burgundy guava has a stronger flavor & said to thrive well wherever citrus is grown!! The attractive dark & glossy green leaves looks somewhere between ficus or smaller rubber plant leaves. Although the tree, leaves & buds looks different, the white flowers & fruit looks almost the same but both smells different than the Common guava. Fruit is green when unripe gradually turns to deep plum. Like Common guava, the flower calyx persists on the ripe fruit but the fruit texture & taste is different, & does not have any special aroma. The white/cream coloured flesh very soft (you can almost suck it), tastes slightly sourish with few very hard scattered seeds which are slightly larger than the Common guava. Another unique character is that, if the fruit is left to rot whole, the outer skin remains like a small sack. Since I have seen very few rotten ones I cannot give very clear description. It’s not very high yielding in Kodagu & the trees are not big too. Older trees have a smooth, flaking bark. There is supposed to be another guava similar to strawberry guava known as lemon guava but I have never seen it.

Thai maroon or Malaysian red guava: Except for the colour, the tree – fruit is very much like apple guava. Tree is burgundy brown, leaves are brown-purple with very pretty pink flowers. Fruit starts of as bronze-brown or remains same colour as the leaves in all stages of its growth. However when it is ready to be eaten it turns lighter in colour. When cut inside it is purplish pink (rather pretty but hard to pin point the colour).

thai red guava

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6 thoughts on “Guava

  1. Namskar
    I am purshottam solanki a farmer from surendranagar distric of gujrat, i read your guava story i like it very well I am intresting in veriety of guava seedling like strawberry guava and pink guava s seedling pl tell me where i can get seedling of this perticuler guava
    thanking you
    purshottam solanki
    spjmali25@gmail.com
    09821048355
    09408359908

    Reply

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