I always liked the caramel colored guava jelly of my childhood. Always purchased rather than home made, the intense and distinct flavor of the guava, mixed with the sweet sugar was always good on toast with butter. I never once wondered how the pulpy and heavily seeded guava fruit turned into such a smooth, fragrant and delicious jelly. So when I came across some ripe â€œnativeâ€ or smaller guavas that were pungent as heck, I thought I might experiment a bit. Back home, I decided I could try one of two possible recipesâ€¦ first, a guava jelly similar to those sold in the groceries and which I recall from 20 years ago, or a more â€œsophisticatedâ€ and adult version of a guava jam or spread. Something more along the lines of a membrillo or quince paste; that would be closer to solid than liquid, a guava “cheese,” really. I wanted texture, parts of the pulp and a bit of bite to the resulting jam. I went for the latter this time around and these are the results of that effort. Note that I have NEVER made guava jam or jelly before.
Take about a kilo of small, ripe guavas and peel them and remove the “eyes”. Boil them in hot water for about 5 minutes to soften and carefully remove from the water. Pass all the boiled guavas through a food mill so that it looks a bit like baby food but without the seeds. Add a touch of the guava water from the pot if it looks too dry. Weigh the pulp (mine was about 1 pound) and add an equal amount of sugar. Stir over medium heat until it thickens and add the juice of half a lemon. Some folks add a little pectin at this point but I donâ€™t think it is necessary. Boil until you reach the desired consistency. Mine was closer to a solid paste and that took about 15 minutes or so. Remember that it will harden as it cools so donâ€™t overdo the cooking. The result? For me, fantastic. It is quite “cheesy,” incredibly aromatic, has texture and graininess on the tongue and fantastic flavor. I suspect this will pair well with a sharp cheese in the same way that membrillo pairs with manchego. The next time I find nice guavas, I will attempt the guava jellyâ€¦