Guava is commonly grown in tropical regions throughout the world. The fruit may be round, oblong, or pear-shaped. When ripe, a guava possesses a strong, sweet smell. The interior flesh may be white, pink, or red with a core of small, edible seeds.
Originated from Central and South America, guavas are primarily self-germinating. While humans have played as a significant role in its journey of cultivation, birds and animals have also scattered about guava seeds while moving around.
In the old days, Thailand was abundant with pink guavas. As many guava trees grew from the seeds found in bird droppings, Thais referred to this pink-fleshed guava as farang khi nok, “bird dropping guava”. The fruit of this variety is smaller, with a softer pink flesh and a floral smell when ripe, making it deal for juices and jam.
The popular varieties with a white interior are Gim-ju (crisp and sweet with fewer seeds), Vietnamese (big and sweet with many seeds), Glom Salee (crunchy, sweet and sour) and Paen See Thong (crisp and sweet with fewer seeds). Fruits of these new varieties are generally the size of a softball with a green-coloured skin that can range from a bumpy to smooth exterior. The flesh is white with pale yellow seeds and tends to be less moist than the pink guavas. It tastes best when it is beginning to ripen, with its skin starting to turn yellow. When ripe, the fruit is soft and the pulp inside is sweet.
To add a spicy kick to the fruit, Thais dip it into a Prik Gluea (a condiment with a salt, sugar and chilli blend), but for people with tame taste buds, the sweet and sour zing of a salted plum powder dip can serve as an eye-opener on a sleepy afternoon.