Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jammin’ with Mugs o’ Guava


Sounds too harsh. Like something from Orwell or Kafka. Something that is inflicted on unfortunate people by dark dictatorships. Not something we do in my cheery little kitchen.

Besides. Sterilize assumes you actually have something to sterilize. Like those Ma and Pa Kettle style mason jars with the funny two-piece lids.

No jars here. We don’t even have any old pickle or mustard jars that have been recently emptied, as we recycle vigorously. My bad, I guess.

But I did find some ancient beer mugs we stole decades ago (!?!) from our old college hang-out. The kind with the false bottom that is actually raised so it looks like you have more beer in the mug than you really do (how dumb could we all have been back then?).

So I washed these things of their decades of dust, collected from a half dozen states. No international dust, as they were in storage for those 12 years. But the storage probably added some interesting layers of yuck as well.

They do look clear again, not yellow anymore, so I deemed them good enough to hold my freshly concocted pineapple guava honey jam.

This was something we immediately thought of making as we tasted the pineapple guavas the other week. The taste was nice, but the effort to get the little bit of flesh out of these small fruits was significant in relation to the reward. So it seemed doing it all at once and having it available for the next month or so as a jam would be infinitely more convenient.

We went with jam, jelly being basically jam’s no-fiber cousin. The goal was to have all the fruit, not just the flavor.

We also used honey, as we are now a ‘no sugar’ kitchen. I have mentioned this before. I thought the honey would work well with the pineapple flavor of these guavas anyways.

So we cooked the pineapple guavas up. Not pectin needed, apparently. The guava must already contain enough natural pectin to create the desired gel-effect. Well, at least that is what I hoped. As all recipes I could find using guavas left out any mention of pectin.

I have to say, that whether the jem gels or not, the wonderfully sweet and fragrant pineapple aroma wafting from the kitchen that enveloped the entire house is reason enough to cook up a batch of this fruit. Wow! Like moths drawn to light, everyone began immediately coming by for a closer whiff. Hoping it was something for immediate consumption, disappointed to find they would have to wait.

I started with about two cups of pineapple guava fruit, seeds and skin removed. Tossed it with the juice of one lemon, cooked that down a bit till soft, then added one half cup mesquite honey, and one half cup agava nectar.

I boiled this mixture for a while, maybe 20 minutes or so, and tried to do the droplet test to see when it was done. Apparently, you drop droplets of the cooking jam onto a damp saucer, and observe whether is gels. If so, done. If not, cook more. The danger being that if you cook the jam too long, the result will be too thick and hard, like toffee rather than jam, to spread on toast. Well, I’m not much of a jam expert. So I dropped droplets for a while until, taking a look at what was cooking in the pan, it was clear to me that the stuff cooking would almost certainly be thick enough when cooled. I think I have to try this droplet test again sometime.

The results? Delicious. Simply delicious.

An ethereal combination of pineapple and honey. I am sure guava is in there too, but since I am not an expert on guava flavor, maybe I’m mixing it in with the pineapple. In any event, very nice.

The only disappointment, at least temporarily, is that my next batch of sour dough bread is not ready to go yet. I just started it yesterday, so it’s not even bubbling yet. It will be a rye and whole wheat combination. I guess the jam will have to wait a few days for the real taste test!

Pineapple Guava Jam
I found the initial recipe on a sort of Hawaiian recipe page, and adapted it
Recipe from Rotaman Recipes, adapted by surfindaave
Makes about 2 cups of jam

Ripe guavas (I had about 2 pounds of whole pineapple guavas)
Juice from one lemon
½ cup honey
½ cup agava nectar (or use brown sugar)
Water (just enough to cover fruit)
Jam jars (sterilized)

Cut the pineapple guavas in quarters. With a sharp knife, slice the peel from the flesh. Remove the seeds. When making guava jam the outer yellow skins and the seeds are not used. Put the quartered guavas in a large heavy saucepan. Add the lemon juice, and pour just enough water into the saucepan to just cover guavas. Boil briskly until the fruit is all pulpy or soft. Remove from stove.

Measure out this fruit mixture, you should have about two cups. I combined the honey and agava nectar and used about 1 cup of that mixture to the two cups of fruit. Some might want to use more sweetener, but I found this to be plenty sweet. Put the fruit and sweetener into a big heavy saucepan and keep boiling briskly, stirring every now and then until a little dropped onto a wet saucer begins to gel or thicken.

Appearances can be deceptive, the jam mixture may look and seem to be runny, while it is boiling away merrily on the stove, but do not be fooled by this. If it is over-cooked it will become hard and almost like toffee when it has cooled down.

Remove from stove and while still hot fill all the jars. Make sure they have good tight lids. This jam can keep for months.


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Blogger Brilynn said...

You can send some of that this way anytime. It looks delicious.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Lynn D. said...

Looks fabulous. Run, not walk, over to the New York Times website, for Mark Bittman's article on slow-rise, no knead bread. I whipped up a batch the instant I finished the article and in 24 hours had the best bread I've ever had. I used a cast iron Dutch oven and half whole-grain spelt and half all purpose flour.

11:16 AM  
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10:31 AM  
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10:34 AM  
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11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, whether you like the idea of sterilizing or not, food safety can't be ignored.

11:23 AM  

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