Gosh is it HOT outside or what? It must be over 100 degrees F around these partsâ€¦ That must mean the start of peak tropical fruit harvests and all the great things you can do with them. I was thrilled with my success with the guava jam/cheese that I made a few weeks ago so when I came across some more nice small â€œnativeâ€ guavas at the market and I decided to give guava jelly a go. I know guava jelly is readily available in the grocery, so why bother trying to make it from scratch, you ask? Simply because I want to, I guess. And the first time results were impressive, if I may say so myself. It takes some elapsed time to do this recipe, but it is actually VERY easy to make. I made a fairly large batch of jam (several jars) which is more than enough for a year in our home so if you want to do this on a smaller scale, feel free to cut this recipe in halfâ€¦it should work just fine.
Take 3 kilos of â€œnativeâ€ guavas that are ripe and pungent. If they arenâ€™t that ripe yet, let them sit on your kitchen counter for another day of two until the kitchen reeks of guava fragrance. The large crisp pale and beautiful â€œon steroidsâ€ type of guava is not the right choice. Wash the fruit, cut it into small pieces or disks, and place it all in a large pot with about 10-11 cups of water, making sure all of the guava is under water. Make sure you remove any rotten parts of the fruit and donâ€™t worry if some of the fruit isnâ€™t fully ripened yet. Next turn on the stove, bring pot to a boil then lower flame and simmer the guava until tender and even more fragrant, roughly 20 minutes simmering should be fine. Do NOT mash up the guavas by overstirring. Just leave them be. You want to keep your liquid as clear as possible Take this off the flame and let the guava sit in the hot water for another 20 minutes. Place all of this in a jelly bag to strain out the guava juice or essence. I didnâ€™t have a jelly bag so I crafted my own contraption. I suspended a stainless steel colander over a glass bowl, lined it with three layers of cheesecloth and carefully put all of the guavas and liquid there. Let this drip overnight or roughly 9-10 hours. Do not disturb it, just let it drip on its own. 90% of the liquid will filter into the bowl in the first few seconds, but it is the last 10% of the liquid that is just redolent with guava essenceâ€¦
What you will end up with is roughly 10-11 cups of rather fragrant guava juice. While it may be a bit cloudy it shouldnâ€™t be too opaque. I decided to divide my guava juice into two portions to experiment with different versions of guava jelly. In the first attempt, I used roughly 5 cups of guava juice and added 7 cups of white granulated sugar and the juice of half a small lemon. Stir this over medium heat until the â€œsoft ball stageâ€ or where a little drop into a glass of cool water turns into a soft ballâ€¦ I winged it and went roughly 50 minutes which turned out to be a little too longâ€¦ resulting in a thick, flavorful and beautifully colored jelly; it looked brilliant, it was just a tad overcooked. I thought this was a pretty good guava jelly but I wanted the guava flavor to be more intense. So I immediately attempted a second batch, this time first boiling down the 6 cups of remaining guava juice until it was about 4.5 to 5 cups of more concentrated flavored liquid. I then added 7 cups of sugar and the juice of 3 kalamansi and cooked this for roughly 30-35 minutes over medium-low flame. This version was superb. Perhaps a touch shy of perfectly cooked, it flowed more readily, had an incredible guava flavor and was perfect with yogurt, crackers or on toast. I really like the flavor of kalamansi and I would definitely recommend this latter version if you can only try one.
Place the guava jelly in sterilized jars and keep it in the fridge for several months. If you want to store it for longer, fill the sterilized jars and cap them then put them in a boiling bath for say 10 minutes to sterilize it all. This should keep for several months in a cool pantry. It is amazing how guava, water, sugar and a touch of kalamansi can result in such a wonderful jelly. Not only would this taste brilliant in freshly baked pan de sals with sweet butter, they would pair well with salty cheeses on crackers and as I found out a day after I made the jam, it goes well with greek style yoghurt for breakfast. Can I tell the difference between homemade and store boughtâ€¦ I suspect I can. The homemade is fresher, lighter, cleaner tasting. It is sweet but not cloying and the FLAVOR of guava is a knock-out punch for sureâ€¦