Saturday, July 07, 2007

After showing you my collage which featured Guavas, I got to thinking about this wonderful fruit.

Guavas originate in Central and South America, but they have been growing on Norfolk Island for a long time. We love them .... and they seem to like being here too. Everyone would have at least a bush or two growing around the house. They grow along the roadsides. They grow in the paddocks, and they grow up in the forest. Not that anyone ever plants them much, except as a hedge sometimes. The birds do that for us, and although they are strictly speaking a weed, they are very much part of Nature's abundant bounty here on Norfolk Island.
On Norfolk Island, guavas are known as "Porpay". There are two main kinds here. The most common is the cherry guava - traditionally known as "blue porpay" here, in spite of its bright to deep red colour. Less common nowadays are the larger yellow ones, which grow on a larger tree rather than a bush. But Bernie has memories of stewed yellow guava as a pretty standard pudding in his boyhood. Up in our woodland, we have an enormous tree which bears small yellow guavas, more like the red ones in size. But it is so tall, we have never reached the fruit. But the tree has the most beautiful bark, smooth and golden. It is the sort of tree you really feel like "hugging."
Guava season can happen two or three times a year, and varies from year to year. And on the west side of the island it is up to a month later than the east! But whenever it happens, you will see people heading with their buckets up the mountain, where they grow prolifically. These will usually be turned into the famous "guava jelly", which is enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Perfect topping for toast and scones! And simple to make.

Get your guavas, wash them and put them into your pan. The size will depend on how many you have gathered, but for my part, it usually involves one of the big "dixies" that used to belong to Bernie's mum.
Add some water, and cook until they are soft and mushy.
Now you must strain them. For the purists, this means putting them into a jelly bag or large cloth suspended between the legs of an upturned chair. The idea is to let the juice drip out over several hours into a container underneath. You are supposed to resist the temptation to squeeze, or your jelly will be cloudy. But I confess that most of us take shortcuts, often lining a colander with a teatowel, and giving the whole thing a stir or massage to help it along.
When you have your juice, you add equal amounts of sugar, a bit of lemon juice if you have it, and just boil it until it jells!! Enjoy!!
The enormous jar of jelly in the picture was a gift to us from Mildred. Her jelly is just wonderful!
There are plenty of other uses of course. If you cut them up, sprinkle with sugar and chill in the refrigerator for a while, you can then serve them with cream, and they will certainly taste better than the modern tasteless strawberries. They can be stewed, put into pies, and the puree makes a wonderful topping and flavouring. Guava ice is pretty good, and they make a great addition to fruit salad. I have even heard that a tea made from the leaves is good for arthritis, but that it tastes dreadful. But I do know they are extremely rich in Vitamin C.
Young Sienna is not interested in the recipes - she just goes and picks her fresh fruit straight off the bushes. Peter's dog Mitti also picks any she can reach - she loves them too!

We do not import any fresh fruit or vegetables into Norfolk Island, because of quarantine restrictions, so we just love our free supply of guavas !

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