Ask Peter: Guavas (+ recipes)
I have a tree laden with small yellow guavas. They are left to rot every year because, well, no one really wants jelly anymore (too much sugar!) and there are so many other, more exciting fruits on offer right now that they don’t really measure up. Just wondered whether you had any ideas on how I could incorporate them in my cooking. Kathy
Editor's note: Peter has developed these ideas with larger guavas in mind, but we are sure they would all still work for the smaller yellow guava Kathy is referring to.
Guavas are delicious fruit — and possibly not many people in New Zealand know that feijoas are also knownas pineapple guavas. The texture of both fruits is the same as a guava, and much of what you do with a red fleshed guava you can do with a feijoa.
I think the reason people don’t like guava jelly isn’t so much that it contains too much sugar, as that people just don’t know what to do with this thickened, non-set, syrup. I have two small jars of the most delicious jelly in my fridge — one is crab apple and thyme and the other grape and ginger. Both were made by a friend in Sussex and I bring them out every now and then to have with cheese, boiled ham at Christmas, poached chicken sliced over warm jersey royal potato salad or with meat terrines. The jellies aren’t as popular as they used to be: the skill to make them requires some insight into old ways, but a jelly is something to treasure.
However, if you feel people just won’t be into them, then there are other things you can do. In the dessert world, a fool is a good way to use them up, so long as they’re fully ripe and tasty.
An unripe guava will never be that interesting, but this guava compote may help you use them up.
Depending on how sweet they are, add 2 parts sugar to 3 parts guava, roughly chopped. That means 200g sugar (ideally white or unrefined golden— definitely not dark brown) per 300g of guava. Mix them together in a non-reactive pot and leave to macerate for an hour. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring as it warms up. After 5 minutes add the juice of a lemon (per 500g of total mixture). If you’d like to spice things up, now add either grated fresh ginger, ground star anise, cinnamon or allspice,vanilla paste etc. Leave to cool then transfer into a dish and place in the fridge to cool completely. Whip 300g chopped guava into 500ml cream and 150g plain yoghurt until soft peaks form. Layer in a dish (or individual glasses) between smashed meringues or sponge fingers, and top with a little of the guava compote.
You can also use this compote in a self-saucing pudding or crumble, so long as it’s good and tasty.
Self-saucing pudding or crumble
If it’s not tasting exotic and yum, then you need to add something else to it — whether that be stewed apple and pears, blueberries or other fruit from the freezer, or plums and dried apricots. Cook them together and place in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Spoon on a sponge mix, or top with a oaty crumble enriched with a lot of melted butter and honey, and bake until golden. Serve with creme fraiche, vanilla icecream or runny top-milk (as Gran used to call the cream on top of the milk bottle). A pavlova cries out for fruits like guavas — especially if they are perfumed and ripe. Chop them, then mix with icing sugar, lime zest and juice and a good slosh of golden rum or something like Malibu. Leave them to macerate in a covered bowl in the fridge and serve on baby pavlovas or meringues with whipped cream or vanilla icecream.
If it’s something savoury you’re after, then guavas can be used with rich meats such as roast duck or goose, pork belly, smoked streaky bacon or lardons and lamb ribs. Whatever way you cook these meats, you’ll need to stew the fruit with sugar, lemon juice, verjus or cider vinegar, and add some lovely aromatics such as chillies, star anise, cacao nibs or ginger. A slightly wet compote, less sweet than when used for desserts and more acidic, will really complement the meats as it will cut through the richness.
So, I think you’re on to a winning pile of fruit — it’s just that the rest of us have lost sight of the possibilities!
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.