Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hawai'ian guava gelato

The scent of fresh guavas arrested me the other day as I walked through a Chinese market. Yellow golf balls with the achingly beautiful smell of the tropics seemed to reach out to me. I was transported back to, yes, Hawai'i, but also to Taiwan, where enormous green, crispy, gently underripe guavas are grown and devoured.

In Taiwan they're called bala, but in most of the rest of China they're known as fanshiliu, or "foreign pomegranates." I guess it's because of the seeds. No, scratch that, it's definitely because of the seeds. Aside from that, there's not much in common between the two fruits. But then I think, how *would* I describe a guava in just a couple of words so that its image would immediately appear in someone's mind? Perfumey seedy fruit?

Anyway, once I got them home, I tried to figure out the best way to use them, because they are so full of those ridiculously hard seeds that I was afraid I'd ruin all of my dentist's handiwork in one fell blow by munching on them as is. So they sat there accusingly from the top shelf of the fridge, begging to be eaten.

Light, fluffy and perfumed
Then today, with my ice cream machine perched on the counter, I suddenly did the math: guavas + machine = guava gelato. Oh yes.

I've added lemon juice in there to add a very slight tart edge and also to keep the colors clear. Both the vodka and egg white help make the gelato soft and smooth, since there's no fat in here to chase away the ice crystals. Because the egg white is raw, use only the best quality egg (or get pasteurized egg whites) and use discretion if your immune system has been compromised.

For the sweetener, I squeezed in some agave nectar, and this worked out really well. First, it's supposed to be better for you, and second, it mixes right in with the juice. You don't need to heat anything up or melt the sugar. Instant sorbet!

This is a personal recipe from my very own private files... so perfect for this time of year when it's so hot, the fruits are so good, and ice cream seems like the best food ever.

Guava gelato chez Huang 
Huangjia fanshiliu bingqilin  黃家蕃石榴冰淇淋 
Kinda Hawaiian
Serves 6 to 8 generously

20 ounces (more or less) fresh, ripe guavas
3 cups filtered water
Sweetener to taste
Pinch of sea salt
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons vodka
1 large egg white, or 2 tablespoons egg white (see note above)

Before and after
1. Wash and trim the guavas, cut into large chunks, and toss them in the blender. Add the water and blend the guavas on medium-low speed until they are a puree. Taste and add sugar and salt to taste, as each batch of guavas is of different, and then whirl in the lemon juice, egg white, and vodka.  

2. Pour the puree through a coarse sieve into a bowl, using a silicon spatula to squeeze out as much juice as possible from the seeds and pulp. Discard the seeds. Cover the the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours until completely chilled.

3. Make the gelato in two batches in your ice cream maker. Pack the gelato in a freezer safe container and keep frozen until ready to serve.


  1. Looks delicious and not difficult to make. Great recipe! I never had guava gelato! Added on my "to do list" .

  2. Thanks Christine - let me know how it turns out!

  3. Guava & Vodka, only you can combine those into a delicious frozen treat.

  4. Why, thank you, Beaker! It really is good... I had some late last night as a snack, and it was hard to stop!