Black Chilean Guava
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Black Chilean guava is available in the late summer and through the winter months.
Black Chilean guava is a rare fruit, botanically known as Ugni myricoides. The small fruits are in the myrtle family, the same family as cloves, allspice and eucalyptus, and are related to the smaller, rouge-colored Chilean guava. The petite berries have also earned the name 'Black Mexican guava', mainly due to an abundance of the plant in the state of Chiapas on the Mexico-Guatemala border.
Black Chilean guavas grow on multi-branched trees that grow from two to six feet in height and appear more like a shrub than a tree. The small fruits grow on short bright green stems and are a deep burgundy to black color. Black Chilean guavas tend to be larger than the cranberry-esque Chilean guavas, but still only measure about 2 centimeters in diameter. The berries have a sweet flavor that is said to have notes of strawberries and cotton candy.
Guavas contain high amounts of antioxidants and a moderate amount of vitamins C and K. Chilean guavas are also a good source of fiber and carbohydrates.
Black Chilean guavas can be eaten fresh, just like blueberries. Black Chilean guavas can be baked into muffins, pancakes, scones or breads. The small berries can be cooked down for syrups, jams or jellies. In southern Chile, the guavas are used to make ‘murta con membrillo’ which is a jarred mixture of Chilean guavas, quince and sugar that has been cooked down into a syrupy condiment. The berries can also be used to flavor beverages. Toss Black Chilean guavas with other tropical fruits like kiwi or star fruit for a variation of fruit salad. Black Chilean guavas will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The berries were very popular in England in the 1800s and were a favorite of Queen Victoria. The fruit likely made its way to Australia with the British where it’s become a popular fruit. In Australia and New Zealand, Chilean guavas are referred to as “Tassie berries” and are marketed as an exotic treat.
Black Chilean guavas are native to Chile on the west coast of South America. They can also be found growing in Mexico, Central America, and parts of Argentina. Black Chilean guavas grow best in cooler subtropical areas and can withstand temperatures down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. The fruits are hardy in the milder areas of Britain and often grow there as an ornamental. Black Chilean guavas are rare outside of Chile and Mexico. The berries may be seen at some small farms in the United States and in home gardens.