Purple Forest Guavas
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Purple Forest guavas grow on shrub-like trees that typically reach 3 to 4 meters in height. The fruits are preceded by showy white flowers with multiple feather-like, fuzzy stamens and are known for their intoxicating aroma. The round to pear-shaped fruits average 2 to 3.5 centimeters in diameter and when fully ripe are a dark shade of purple. The cream-colored interior contains small angular seeds which may be removed but are most often swallowed whole. Purple Forest guavas can be quite acidic and tannic depending upon growing conditions and offer subtle tropical notes of pineapple and berry.
Purple Forest guavas are available in the mid to late summer.
The Purple Forest guava is botanically classified as Psidium eugeniaefolia and closely resembles its cousin the strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum). Also known as Araca-una, or Araçaúna in its native home of Brazil, the suffix “una” translates to black which refers to the dark purple or almost black shade the fruit takes on when fully mature. The Purple Forest guava is sometimes confused with Camu-camu, another fruit commonly found growing in the rainforests of Brazil and Peru. In fact, some people even misleadingly call it Camu-camu of the Atlantic forest or false Camu-camu.
Guavas are a good source of vitamins A and C and fiber, as well as potassium and magnesium. The Purple Forest guava is particularly rich in anthocyanins and carotenoids, most notably cyanidin 3-glucoside, lutein and beta carotene.
Due to the Purple Forest guava’s high seed content, it is quite tedious to prepare. The best way to enjoy it is in juice from. After the fruits are washed and free of stems and leaves, they may be pressed or blended and passed through a sieve. The juice is used to make frozen treats or beverages and even fermented into a wine.
The Purple Forest guava has long been a food staple for may indigenous tribes in South America. Its Portuguese name, Araçaúna, is derived from the Guarani-Tupi people and means "Fruit that has eyes" because of the persistent sepals and the fruit’s blossom end which resemble eyelashes.
The Purple Forest guava is native to the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil, specifically from the state of Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thriving mainly on slopes and the edges of the forest, the plants are somewhat hardy surviving temperatures as low as 28 degrees F. They are adaptable to most soil-types but prefer sandy soils rich in organic matter. Once the plants are established they can withstand periods of drought.