Everyone has a ‘risk muscle.’ You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day. – Roger Von Oech
It has been a hectic Sunday filled with canning, cooking, shopping, and laundry. All of this took precedent over posting this morning, but waiting provided me with something new to share.
Yesterday on the clearance rack at Randazzo’s I came across several quart containers filled with a fruit I’d never seen before. On reading the PLU sticker I learned it was a guava. I’d always thought guava were the size of a large pear. These were the size of apricots. Not having any idea what I’d make with them I had to have them, so I bought 3 quarts for a total of $2.00. I also got a ton of other things, very cheap — but more on them in another post.
The moment I got home I went to the computer before even emptying the car. I had to find out if there were any great recipes for guava jam online. My search resulted in a few recipes that used a pink guava, one that used the larger green guava I was familiar with, and only one that used the small, creamy-textured ones I’d bought. Not much to go on, but I’d worked with less. I knew that come morning, I’d be ready to experiment.
Getting up early this morning, the only morning during the week that I can sleep in, I headed to the kitchen anxious to see what working with guava was going to be like. Not liking most of the methods I found on the Internet for “juicing” guava, I decided to use the method I was comfortable with and use for most fruits.
I started by washing the guava and cutting off the flower and stem ends. Next I quartered the fruit and put them in a large stock pan – peels, seeds and all.
Then I filled the pot with just enough water to cover the fruit and brought it to a boil.
Leaving it simmer on the stove for 30 minutes, I tested the guava and found it tender.
I have found that in order to get the most juice out of any fruit, using a hand mixer or stick blender while the fruit is still in the pan does wonders. I pureed the fruit until all the large chunks were gone, leaving lots of tiny seeds and a thick creamy mixture.
Now, either because I’m too lazy to stand there with a strainer or too impatient to wait for the juice to filter through cheese cloth, I pulled out my Victorio Strainer. Fitting it with the berry attachment I poured all the boiling liquid into the hopper and strained out the skin and seeds. Some of the seeds did crack during the process, releasing a tiny poppyseed-size seed into the juice. This didn’t bother me, but if you wanted to I’m sure you could strain this out with a fine mesh strainer.
The three quarts of guava I bought yielded nine cups of strained guava pulp/juice. It was very thick and smelled almost citrusy.
I put 6 cups of the pulp back in the pan, added 3 tablespoons lime juice, and 4 cups of sugar. Bringing this to a boil I then added one pouch of liquid pectin and let it boil for one minute more. I’m not sure the pectin was really necessary because the jam already was fairly thick, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Finally I ladled the jam into hot 8 oz. jars, covered them with hot lids and bands, and processed them in a water bath for 10 minutes. I filled six jars and another small bowl that I put in the fridge.
There was a little jam left in the pan, which I left there for my next project — some sort of guava-fruit combo jam.
I tasted the jam while it was still hot and wasn’t sure what it tasted like. It had a bite to it, it was sweet, but unlike anything I’d ever made. The whole house smelled like guava. Then it hit me. I knew this fruit. I might not have seen it in its fruit form, but back some eight or more years ago we went to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for a family vacation. Every morning they served fresh squeezed juices in the dining room. The one that all of us drank and enjoyed the most was the guava. It was thick, creamy, white and very sweet. Obviously they had added lots of sugar and more water than I did to make the jam, but the flavor was certainly reminiscent.
After removing the jars from the canner, I tasted the cooling jam in the refrigerator. Wow! Cold the flavor was so much stronger. Very unique. I liked it. So what could I do with the rest of the guava pulp and the little bit of jam left in the pan?
Leaving the canning so I could do some grocery shopping, I headed to Meijer’s. I ran into several workers that I have come to know over the years. Going to the same grocery store for 20+ years, you make friends. Needing some input on my guava dilemma, I asked for suggestions for a fruit that would go well with guava. My thought was possibly pineapple, but one of the women ate guava regularly and thought that a perfect combo would be to add strawberry. Done. I picked up two quarts of strawberries and now have a canning project for tomorrow.
Trying new things is scary, but what’s the worst that could happen? I’d have wasted $2.00 and a little time. What I gained was a new recipe, the satisfaction of utilizing years of canning experience to “fudge” my own recipe, and I got to enjoy a trip down memory lane recalling the wonderful family vacation we had in Punta Cana, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.