Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Guava Jelly

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

It's the time of year when there's not really anything fruiting in the orchard.  We do have bananas, but they all ripen at once so it's a mad rush to eat, dry and freeze the whole bunch.

With delight, my children announced that the Strawberry Guavas are ripe, all along the edge of the rainforest on our block.  These trees are an invasive species, they just pop up where the birds plant them...  As a wild fruit, I love them - they're much bigger than a berry or lillypilly - and the tree is of small size with no spikes or other deterrents.  Some say the fruit are sour, but we find them sweet, soft and abundant - great for eating fresh, juicing or preserving...


Today I made guava jelly.  (Jelly as in strained jam.)  With guavas, we make jelly instead of jam because the many small seeds are very hard.  Sometimes I use yellow guavas (they are pink on the inside), but these aren't ripe until Autumn, nor as prolific.  I decided to type out the recipe, for beginners...  This recipe can be adapted to any amount of guavas (or other, similar fruit).

Cut up guava fruit (remove stalks and any blemished bits)
Water (or enough to cover fruit in your heavy-based pan)
citric acid

Boil cut up guavas in water (today I used 7 cups of fruit to 7 cups of water).  Mash gently when they go soft.  The colour will come out of the fruit, into the water.  Simmer until fruit is quite pale and disintegrated (approx 20 mins).  Cooking guavas gives off a delightful, spicy aroma!  Strain through a fine sieve into a jug to measure the liquid you strain off (I got 4 cups).  Rinse your pan and add this liquid back to the pan.  Rinse and dry your jug and add 2:3 sugar to juice (so I used 3 cups organic raw sugar).  Simmer on low to medium heat until sugar is dissolved, sotrring often.  Add 1/2 tsp citric acid to each cup of liquid you had from the guavas (I used 2 tsp total).  Stir until dissolved.  Keep simmering until the jelly reaches setting point. Stir occasionally, checking that it's not sticking or burning.  While it's cooking I sterilise some jars, write some labels and clean up my mess!  To test when it's set, I put a spoon into the fridge and dip it into the jelly after around 15 minutes, if it sets a bit on the spoon - it's thicker than syrup and a little will set on the spoon as it cools. 

Turn off the heat and pour the jelly into the sterilised jars (today I filled 4 jars).  If there's any scum or bits of fruit in the jelly, scoop that off or pour it through the fine sieve again, through a funnel, into your jars.  Seal immediately with sterlised lids.  Sit on the bench to cool, trying to resist the urge to tip the jars to check for setting!  The next day, these will be cool and set.  Ensure the outside of each jar is squeaky clean and label and date each jar.  This jelly keeps for many months in a cool, dark pantry.  It's nice spread on toast, or served with cheese, or even poultry.

This method of making jelly is suitable for many fruits - especially those with seeds or skins that aren't suitable for jam.  You can experiment with adding a few whole cloves or other spices during the initial boiling stage.

Next, I think I'll try making herb jelly...

What about you?  Have you made preserves lately?