Tag Archive for: organic

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.

Our guava tree ©David Peter Harris

Our guava tree ©David Peter Harris

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.

Some perfectly round guavas © David Peter Harris

Some perfectly round guavas © David Peter Harris

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

Ingredient checklist ©David Peter Harris

Ingredient checklist ©David Peter Harris

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

I love peeling the guavas  ©David Peter Harris

I love peeling the guavas  ©David Peter Harris

1) This is a fun task: peel your guavas.

Carefully remove all the seeds ©David Peter Harris

Carefully remove all the seeds ©David Peter Harris

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! 

Weight it up! ©David Peter Harris

Weight it up! ©David Peter Harris

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?  

Rule of thumb for jam making ©David Peter Harris

Rule of thumb for preserve making is to wait until the jam sticks a little to the teaspoon ©David Peter Harris

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!

Decanting home-made preserve is my personal favourite ©David Peter Harris

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.


Remember to spread some sugar or liqueur before closing your jar, to fight water condensation ©David Peter Harris

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.

holiday guide

Here is a useful guide to making your holiday in Plett all the more mindful with practical tips on finding places to eat, shop and play that are good for both people and the planet…


Eating out….

If you are looking for restaurants that will serve you up truly delicious free range eggs for your breakfast or meal have a look here

If you’ll only eat chicken when you know it’s free range, these are the restaurants to visit

And if organic greens are your thing this is where you should go, or if you’re more specifically looking for organic vegan places to eat out, click here

For a general perusal of restaurants in Plett that have factored in people & planet friendly practices have a look here


Getting Active…

Why not go for an eco friendly kayak on the ocean, take a short or long guided hike through nature, explore the birding routes, go on an untouched adventure or an unforgettable kloofing experience?

And if you’re looking for Fair Trade certified activities then this is the place to look


Shopping local…

If you’re passionate about buying local, fresh, organic and free range, then this is the market to visit. Or if you’re up for a Saturday adventure then take a short drive to this fabulous farmer’s market.

And if you miss the market days then this is the farm stall to visit or you could get fresh greens directly from this organic farm

You could even have fresh farm produce from the area delivered to your doorstep!

Some of the greatest exports from Plett are these locally made biodegradable cleaning products,  or these exquisite skincare products, all natural and not tested on animals, of course! Stock up while you’re here. Or support a fantastic community project making shwe-shwe hotboxes that will cook your food while you’re on the beach, find where to get them here



Recycling is actively happening in Plett, you’ll see the new drop off points on Marine Drive and on the Piesang River, but they’ll even pick up your recycling from your holiday home! Simply put all your clean recyclables (paper, plastic, tin and glass) in a clear bag outside, the day after your usual rubbish collection day. And voila, you can give all those holiday champagne bottles a new life!

Oh and speaking of champagne you’ll need the local variety, or visit this new tasting room to try out the full spectrum of locally produced wines (and craft beers from the Cape).


 Footprints in the sand…

Breathe deep on the fresh sea air, stretch your sun kissed body, up the feel good factor of your holiday and leave only your footprints in the sand, taking with you memories of magical moments….


(If you have a fantastic experience at any of the above eco ethical hotspots why not share the love and rate & review them? Or grow the planet friendly list and recommend a place that you think should be in the limelight)



The Vineyard Hotel & Spa, set on the shady eastern slopes of Table Mountain, extends from an original Georgian homestead across eight lush hectares of indigenous riverside parkland. This is an oasis of luxury and tranquility, but behind the scenes there is a flurry of activity aimed at ensuring that this 207-roomed hotel and busy conference centre treads as lightly as possible on the Earth. The Vineyard is totally committed to operating in an environmentally friendly fashion, and has implemented an impressive range of measures to ensure this. This ranges from changing to LED lights in the conference centre (leading to a 75% energy saving) to installation of a state-of-the-art energy efficient laundry (another 34% energy saving) and the upcoming installation of  solar panels for generation of green energy. Chris van Zyl, the Sustainability Manager at the Vineyard explained so many initiatives to me that this would become more of a novel than a blog if a wrote them all down. But if you are interested, there is a dedicated section on the Vineyard’s website where you can read all about it.

Chris is not the only person passionate about sustainability at the Vineyard. In fact, everyone I spoke to seemed to have the same attitude, and there was no mistaking that the staff are proud of where they work. The enthusiasm of sous chef Shane Louw particularly captured my attention. He took me of a whirlwind tour of all his favourite initiatives to produce vegetables, herbs and fruit on the hotel property. There was sharp rocket, colourful spinach, sweet basil, majestic artichokes, juicy blueberries and tangy Cape gooseberries in his gardens, and on the rooftop were lemon trees that provided the main ingredients for the delicious lemonade that guests are offered upon check-in. Often, Shane will take a little walk to the veggie gardens in the morning (not a bad way to start your day I might add; they are set on the slopes of the Liesbeek River in the midst of perfectly manicured indigenous gardens) to find inspiration for the day’s specials in the Square Restaurant.


Shane showing off the lovely herb garden

I asked Shane whether it actually makes a difference to use local, organic produce and his response was “I would not feel comfortable serving my guests food that I don’t know where it came from. We grow our own organic herbs and vegetables, but I also personally know the farmers and fishermen that provide what we cannot produce. That way, I know that the ingredients are the best and freshest, and we also contribute to the local economy.”  There is no mistaking that Shane only serves the best in the Square restaurant. My chicken salad was superb, and the cheesecake with strawberry jelly and lavender icecream was to die for!


Whether you are an overnight guest, or just visit for lunch or dinner at the Square, the Vineyard is an indulgence in luxury that leaves a sweet aftertaste and does not cost the Earth!

Spinach in the Vineyard's veggie garden: beautiful, organic and no doubt turned into a very tasty dish by Shane and his team!

Spinach in the Vineyard’s veggie garden: beautiful, organic and no doubt turned into a very tasty dish by Shane and his team!


Lemonade, homemade with own lemons

Lemonade, homemade with own lemons