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Guaba Fruit: Ecuador’s Delicious Ice Cream Bean

A little while ago, I discovered a very interesting fruit called guaba. It is very common at markets and can be seen on trees in the outskirts of Cuenca. Because of it’s slight vanilla flavor, guaba is also known as the: ice cream bean.


What The “Ice Cream Bean” Looks Like

It is green on the outside and shaped like a bean but fatter. On the inside there are little black seeds with a white, cottony coating, that is a nice treat.

It tastes sweet (not too sweet) with a hint of vanilla. When you first put it in your mouth, it is very fuzzy, but as it gets wet it gets very slippery. Then you have to try to scrap the white stuff off with your teeth.

Here are some more of my favorite Ecuador fruits.

It smells like rhubarb to me. Mom said she thought is smelled like green strawberries. It is divided into sections on the inside. These can easily be separated and shared with a group of friends.

Read more about other traditional Ecuador food.

Let me tell you something very interesting about the little black seeds found inside.

Strange Little Black Seeds

One day we were at the Feria Libre (in Cuenca) buying our groceries. At one of the booths mom picked up this strange fruit – that we later learned was guaba – and the lady selling it cracked it open and asked mom to try some, to see if we would like to buy it.

Since we had no idea what it was or how to eat it, mom just took out one of the little sections, popped it in her mouth and chewed it up. Big mistake.

After that, the lady told mom that she wasn’t supposed to eat the seed. And that she was only supposed to eat the white, cottony coating.

Mom said the seed tasted very spicy, not the good spicy, the bad spicy. She spit it out right away.

But not a half-hour later she was dizzy and light-headed, and she couldn’t think straight. We were all pretty worried.

What now?

Well, don’t worry too much. Mom was fine. Me and dad went into a modern grocery store called Super Maxi and bought her some bread while she waited outside on a bench.

After she had the bread she said she was feeling much better. Now I can’t walk by that Super Maxi without thinking about that.

So now whenever we eat the fruit we are very, very careful not to eat the seeds. We don’t know if they have something bad in them or if mom was just allergic to them. But nobody eats the seeds! Fortunately, I can tell if I’ve bitten the seed because it is very spicy!!! So as soon as I taste that, I spit it out right away!

So anyway, it is a nice fruit to have for a snack, just don’t eat the seeds!!!!!!!

I hope you will try this strange, interesting (and cheap) fruit for yourself! Happy travels!

Want to read about more great unique things to eat in Ecuador? Check out more of my posts here. There you will find great Ecuador treats, cool photos, and my view of living in Ecuador for kids.


Thursday 5th of May 2016

Just tried this the first time in Peru, it tasted amazing. Does anybody know about the nutrients?


Wednesday 16th of December 2015

I.m from bali . n really l don.t know ice cream beans. I have taste already that because of my australians friend

Philipp Schilcher

Saturday 20th of June 2015

I'd love to try those some day. I just have to remember the name. It sounds a bit like guave.

Marjorie Hovey

Wednesday 17th of September 2014

I'm a year late with this comment but I was just looking through your website. We have this fruit in Hawaii, too. I agree, it is very interesting and kind of fun to eat. I enjoy your post. Hope I get to meet you and your family when we visit Cuenca next Feb.

Geoffrey Levens

Monday 18th of November 2013

Save those big shiny black seeds from when you eat guaba!!! They are absolutely delicious and satisfying to eat. While it is true that they are quite nasty and likely to cause severe indigestion raw because they are loaded w/ trypsin inhibitors, those are broken down by heat. The are apparently eaten roasted in Mexico as a snack but since I don't have an oven at the moment to try that, I boiled some for lunch. Since they are basically a fresh legume (as opposed to the dried ones) they won't keep a long time (freezing they would keep a few months) but that also means about 40 minutes boiling and they are done. They have a sweet, starchy, but also rich flavor (I think they have a moderately high fat content) and the dense, sort of creamy texture. They reminded me of a very good potato w/ butter on it. After they were soft, I just added some curry pwder and extra cumin got the water, a whole bunch of onion and garlic, and some chopped mixed veg. An wonderful vegetable stew/soup was lunch. Mucho gusto!