In our part of Australia, it can be hard to discern changing seasons, but keeping a fruit and vegetable certainly puts you in touch with the subtle changes. Nearing the end of summer, and two weeks ago I pulled out some spent vegies in the garden, ready for some autumn/winter veg. Today is a magic sunny day, not too hot, so I’ve been just digging compost, blood and bone and a touch of lime into the soil ready for the garlic, leeks, silverbeet, Chinese veg and brassicas I plan to plant this weekend (she says, with a definite tone in her voice!).
The other day I received a cold call from a local gym, offering me two weeks free membership. I said “Listen, mate, I’ve got a garden, what do I need the gym for?” No I didn’t really say that. I politely declined, like my mother and a dozen nuns taught me.
The end of summer has meant preserving time. Last year I wrote about making guava jelly, and I’ve just made a batch. Here’s my recipe based on advice from my mother-in-law, for my benefit as much as anyone else’s. It will help me to remember what I did when I come around to making another batch next year.
Strawberry guava jelly
Strawberry guavas, cut up
A couple of lemons or limes
Place your strawberry guavas in a saucepan with the pith of one lemon or lime, and just enough water to cover.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the guavas are soft.
Can you picture a hanging Christmas pudding? We are going to do the same thing with the guavas.
Place a colander over a large bowl or jug ( I use a pyrex 2 litre jug). Line the colander with a large square of muslin cloth (about 1 metre square)
Tip the cooked guavas and water through the lined colander.
Gather up the muslin and tie with string so it looks like a Christmas pudding. You will need enough string to tie the “pudding” so that it hangs over the bowl without touching anything. Once the “pudding” is hanging you dispense with the colander. (I should have taken a photo of this - sorry).
Leave the juices to drip through the muslin for at least a few hours, or overnight. You will end up with deep red juice.
Give the guavas to the chooks.
Meanwhile, measure one cup of sugar to one cup of juice into a saucepan. Add the juice of one lemon or lime for each cup of juice.
Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil and then simmer until the jelly reaches setting point. This varies, but I would start testing after 45 minutes or so. (Put a saucer in the freezer once the jelly starts simmering ready for testing. The jelly has reached setting point when a spoonful of jelly on the cold saucer wrinkles when you draw the end of a teaspoon through it). Test every 5 to 10 minutes until setting point is reached.
Put the jelly into hot sterilized jars.
We have heaps of guavas at the moment, and I am considering turning some into guava cheese to have as a sweetmeat at the upcoming Easter functions. I have a recipe for quince cheese, which I reckon I could adapt for guavas. (No quinces from our tree this year, alas). What I need though is concentrated, uninterrupted time at the stove to do this. If I can manage it, I will take photos and report back….