Jam and preserve have the power to trigger involuntary memory to recall childhood moments. The great combination of fruit, sugar and pectin will always be summer mornings, waking up to the smell of fresh bread baked by my mom, mixed to fresh coffee for a glorious breakfast before hitting the beach for the day. I associate fruit preserve to winter too; jam tarts cooling where minutes seemed like hours, when my siblings and I waited in anticipation for the goodness to cool down before we could taste some (P.S. I never waited long enough). When my parents moved to their new place, we all discovered that on a corner of the garden stood tall a guava tree. The tree grows naturally; without the use of pesticides, we prune it, year in and year out. The tree thanks us by bearing an abundant amount of fruit. The first few years we ate lots of guava; we quickly reached full capacity though ( and so did our neighbours, our friends, colleagues and everyone with whom we shared our annual harvest) and felt the need to find a new life for the beautiful citrus fruit.
One day, Nonna dropped by with a few bags and filled them up with guavas and off she went without saying much; the next day, we had preserve. Since then, every winter we make our own guava preserve and store it away for summer days. Besides enjoying the cooking process, I love the idea of taking advantage of what is in season for the following months, it makes me feel respectful of what Nature gives us.
For this post, I asked my lovely partner in crime David to help me out with photos, so that I could show how easy it is to make preserve with the fruit of your choice. Thanks Dave! The recipe
The recipe comes from Nonna – most recipes I found on the internet call for an equal amount of fruit and sugar, while Nonna puts a little less sugar and it tastes just perfect. Since we mention it, I would like to say that my body cringed a bit when I saw the needed sugar quantity. However, sugar does not only give preserve its lovely consistency, but it prevents spoilage, even after the jar is open. Remember that home-made preserves will never taste as sweet as the mass produced ones; also, you can choose what sugar to use. Without further ado: 1kg guavas (peeled, chopped and after the seeds have been removed) 650 gr sugar (I used organic brown sugar) 1 lemon 1 medium apple or 2 small ones If you have more than 1 kg, you can adjust the sugar/lemon/apple quantity. Follow the 8 steps to delicious guava preserve. And so we begin
1) This is a fun task: peel your guavas.
2) Removing the seeds is quite a crucial (and a bit tedious) part of guava preserve making. Try remove all the seeds because once they are cooked they become hard and, therefore, a real danger for your teeth. I throw the seeds away since I don’t have a good strainer. If you strain the pips, put the pulp you get in a little pan and cook it for 10 minutes, then add it to the chunks. Weight it up!
3) Put the fruit on a scale. I was lucky because I got 1 kg on the dot (it never happens!). You can definitely spot some seeds on the chopped guavas, and that’s ok, it’s home-made! Dave left the house for the next two steps, so the visual is missing but my description is painstaking. 4)Pour the chopped fruit in a pot, with the apple cut into pieces and the juice of one lemon, on the stove. I use a heat diffuser, which spreads the fire so that the pot receives equal heat. Cook it for 30 minutes, until the fruit starts bubbling up. before adding the sugar. Put a lid on the pot and stir every 15 minutes or so for a few hours until…. When are we done?
6) Cook it for roughly five hours; the golden rule is to cook it until the preserve sticks a little to the teaspoon. 7) Let the delicious concoction cool down for a few hours; in the meantime you can wash your jars (I used three jars for 1 kg of preserve); I wash them in hot water and soap, rinse them, then I dry them in the oven for about 5 minutes. I personally love decanting the fresh preserve in glass jars, and I find it difficult not to eat in between jar filling, right off the stove!
8) Before closing your jars, spread some sugar or a drop of liqueur, that fights water condensation on the surface – water condensation would allow mould to grow.
I never manage to keep my preserve until summer, unless I hide them in my pantry ; when I make preserve, it becomes the main ingredient of my breakfast. Since the end of the guava season is nearing, I urge you all to spend the coming weekend cooking up a delicious guava storm!If you do, remember to send us pictures of your beautifully delicious jars.