Originally from Brazil, Feijoa or pineapple guava as its known in southern California, is a cold hardy guava that blooms in May and is covered with tiny pink and crimson blossoms. By Fall, the plum-shaped fruits are ready to eat and are harvested when they fall to the ground. The easiest way to eat them is to simply scoop out the creamy flesh. We use them fresh in all kinds of dishes- they are vegetarian friendly after all- but by far my favorite use is for guava jelly.
Jelly recipes are a little more precise than my usual technique of ratios. Jellies do need more sugar than jams or marmalades. The extra sugar is required to get a proper set- the appropriate “jelly” texture if you will- not to soft and not too hard.
Fortunately the guava is pretty tart so it balances the sugar really well.
5 pounds of guavas
3 ½ cups of sugar
4 T lemon juice.
Wash your guavas, halve them and cover w/ 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Your guavas will start to get a little mushy- that’s ok. Let them cool some and refrigerate overnight. Guava skins have a lot of natural pectin in them and this will help to extract all of that goodness. Pectin is a natural thickener- which is handy when it comes to firming up your jams and jellies.
Now its straining time. The easiest way to strain your guava juice is to get a nice thick layer of cheesecloth and line a mesh strainer w/ it and put it over a bowl or pitcher. Gently pour your juicy mix in the strainer and let slowly drain out, This may take a while as the juice has got quite pulpy at this point. When your fully strained, discard the pulp and measure out 6 cups of juice. You’ll have extra juice that you can throw in the freezer for next time. If freezing’s not up your alley you can also use that juice right away -add to smoothies, ice tea, or make a quick vinaigrette w/ it.
Mix your 6 cups of juice w/ your sugar and lemon juice in a large wide pan- the larger the better. This allows for maximum evaporation. Bring to a boil.
At this point your juice will look a little scary- kinda like dirty dishwater- don’t panic! You’ll be amazed at the transformation. Suddenly it will start turning a lovely shade of pinkish amber. As its boiling you’ll get some foamy stuff floating on top-you’ll want to skim this off. A slotted spoon works well.
The jelly should be cooked about 20-30 minutes. It will start to thicken and take on a viscous quality. To test if its’ done, put a small spoonful on a frozen plate.
Run your finger through it. If it is thick and wrinkles around the edges- it’s done.
Remove it from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully pour into clean glass jars and cover. Refrigerate. It will keep for at least 2 months in the fridge. Although it probably won’t last that long.
If you don’t feel inclined to make it yourself- no worries. You can try it here @ Avanti Café- the best healthy vegetarian restaurant in Costa Mesa in fact in all of Orange County!
Chef Tanya Fuqua