Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Things to do with Guavas.

Yesterday I gave you recipes for loquats, and today I give you recipes for guavas. It was a no-brainer easy choice for me, given that the article in the Los Angeles Times of May 8, 1902 which was the source of some of the loquat recipes, also included ideas for using guavas.

Firstly, a brief botany and history note. The guava (several cultivars of Psidium guajava) belongs to the Myrtle family. It is a tropical “New World” plant native native to Central and northern South America. Outside of the tropics, it is best known in the form of guava jelly. This was an important product of the colonial West Indies, and was exported in great amounts to Britain. Its popularity is attested in the following piece:

Tolpsey’s Account of a West India Planter’s Punch.
“He made his appearance with a respectably sized bowl, an enormous jug of boiling water, and a large paper bag filled with sugar. Our punch-maker then commenced operations, and having extracted from his secret store a bottle of his matchless rum, his limes, and a small pot of guava jelly, he brewed about a pint of green tea (2 oz.), and, the infusion finished, two-thirds of the sugar was dissolved in it. After the tea leaves had been thrown aside, the remainder of the sugar was rubbed on the lime ; Mr. Hamilton observing that the essential oil, which conveyed the exquisite flavour, was much more strongly diffused throughout the compound than when the skin was peeled; then the delicious acid of the fruit was added to the already impregnated sugar, and as soon as the several lumps had imbibed the proportions required, the guava jelly (and without this confection no punch can be pronounced perfect) was dissolved in a pint or so of boiling water. This done, the tea, the sweets, and the acids were commingled, and the foundation or sherbert tasted by the experienced palate of the grand compounder; six glasses of Cognac, two of Madeira, and the bottle of rum were added, and over all about a quart more of boiling water, and, as a finishing touch, the slightest possible sprinkling of nutmeg.
Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks (1869); by William Terrington.

So, let us start with a recipe for guava jelly:

Guava Jelly.
Select freshly-picked fruit, not quite ripe. Ripe guavas will not make jelly, and if too green there will not be enough juice. So much depends on the selecting. Put the guavas (5 or 10 lbs.) in granite kettle, and cover with cold water; boil for half an hour, mashing fruit to extract juice. Turn all into bag (white flannel is best) and let drip till all juice is extracted. If you wish a very clear jelly do not squeeze the bag. Then let it boil 10 or 15 minutes. Take from fire and measure; adding same quantity of sugar. When sugar is dissolved, boil until it forms a jelly, which can be told by the way it drops from the spoon, in a solid form, or by trying some in a saucer in a cold place. Pour in tumbler very quickly, as it hardens very fast. While still hot, take off blubbers from top. When cold, pour over each tumbler one or two teaspoonfuls melted paraffine.
Los Angeles Times; May 8, 1902.

The article also included the following interesting variation on a shortcake theme:

Guava Shortcake.
One quart of guavas cut fine; sprinkle with one cup of sugar, and let stand overnight, or several hours. Make short cake of one pint of flour, one heaping teaspoonful baking powder, a pinch of salt, and butter the size of an egg. Rub flour and butter well together and moisten with milk. Cut into four pieces, roll to fit jelly tins, using two tins. Place one piece of dough in each tin, spread well with butter; place others on top and bake in a quick oven. Separate layers and fill with the guavas, making two small or one large cake, as preferred. Serve with sugar and cream.
Los Angeles Times; May 8, 1902.

From Australian newspapers we have the following ideas:

Guava Vinegar.
In November last we ("Queensland Agricultural Journal”) were asked to give a recipe for making mango vinegar. We were not able to answer this question at the time, but we have found a recipe given in the "Journal of the Jamaica Agricultural Society" for making guava vinegar. Possibly this might be applicable to mangoes. This fruit should be well ripened. Wash and cut in halves, cover with plenty of water and simmer for two hours, strain through a colander, and then strain the juice through a bag. Bottle, and then tie muslin over the tops of the bottles. It requires about five months to turn into strong vinegar. In filling jars or bottles with juice, which is to make vinegar, remember, that it is well to leave space for plenty of air and only fill the receptacles about two-thirds.
Queensland Times, 5 February, 1916.

Guava Fluff.
This gelatine dish makes a delicious dessert for six servings. Ingredients:  1 lb. small red guavas (the larger variety can be substituted); 2 dessertspoons (1 ½ oz) gelatine (if setting in a refrigerator or ice chest 1 ½ dessertspoons is sufficient); 1 cup ( ½ lb.) sugar
I pint water.
Method: Wash guavas and place in a saucepan, after having pierced or broken at least half of them. Add ½ pint of water, then boil for 20 to 30 minutes, strain through a fine colander or sieve, and place the liquid (which should be about a pint) in a saucepan. Bring to boiling point and add sugar. Remove from the fire, and add gelatine which has been dissolved in ¼ cup of hot water. Leave until cold and then whisk with an egg
beater until thick and foamy. Place in a mould, which has been rinsed in cold water.

Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld) 25 July 1941

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