When we arrived in Lusaka January 2011, the “orchard” out back was completely infested with pests and disease and none of the trees carried any fruit. Here’s an example of what 20+ trees looked like, all over.
I (greatly!) prefer to be as organic as possible but the infestation was so bad that the pests just laughed at my organic methods of eradication (like Neem oil or cayenne/dishsoap mixtures). Likely they had a party and out of spite decided to spread to the shrubs too.
So, I went and got the real fruit tree pesticide with one of those 5 liter spray tanks and we sprayed the whole orchard twice, three weeks apart. With that head start we were able to keep the pests at bay by doing things like cutting branches or leaves that had pests on them and burning them. The other thing we did is water the trees in the dry season and fertilize them (first with commercial fertilizer, and then with our compost after we made our first batch).
Well, our efforts paid off! The first fruits to ripen this summer (remember, we’re in the southern hemisphere) were the mango and guava and they looked beautiful! (For the tropically-challenged, the first photo is of mangos and the second is of guavas.)
The problem was, they didn’t taste good. They had an acrid bitter taste. We figured it must have something to do with our soil (red clay) and/or water (very heavy lime). We’re going to have to do a lot more research to figure out what soil/water compositions make good-tasting fruit.
In the meantime, the guava fruit, which were especially bountiful, were just falling to waste on the ground.
I kept asking the guards and gardener, “don’t these taste funny to you?” They all said no, that’s the way they normally tasted. While I was looking up “how to eat guava fruit” (you really can look up anything on the internet) I came across several guava jam recipes. In only one out of half a dozen recipes, it said to scoop out the seeds before making jam because the seeds were bitter. My wonderful ex-neighbor Barb (now that our house has sold, 😦 , all we have are ex-neighbors) had introduced me to making my own jams the summer before we moved here so I had brought all of my jam-making supplies to Zambia and was eager to try something new.
First I gathered up a basket full of ripe unbruised fruit and washed them.
Then, I scooped out the inner seeds and fed that pulp to the chickens.
As you can see, once the seeds are gone very little pulp is left. However, the unseeded pulp of 15-18 guavas was enough to make two cups of pulp. The recipe said to pulse the pulp in your blender but because we’re without that I just beat with a fork until it was the consistency I wanted.
Next, I added the strained juice of one lime, 2 cups of sugar (supposed to be equal parts guava and sugar) and 2 tablespoons of dry pectin to the guava pulp. (Let me tell you, it’s impossible to find limes in any Zambian market; fortunately one of my friends just moved into a house with a lime tree so I was able to nab one from her.)
Constantly stirring, I brought the mixture to a boil.
In the meantime, I sterilized the jam jars and lids in boiling water.
The recipe said let boil for 20 minutes but the mixture was awfully stiff after 7-8 minutes so I pulled it off the stove then. I think I either should have used less pectin (maybe 1 tablespoon) and/or let it boil for just five minutes because though the final product tasted great it was a bit stiff. I immediately ladled the mixture into the sterilized jars.
Next was the water bath to vacuum seal the jars. (As you can see, I had to improvise and use a vegetable steamer to keep the bottoms of the jars from touching the pot.)
After 15 minutes it looked like the lids were properly sealed (they were sucked down) and the jam was declared complete!
Yes, that’s the actual color with no added colorings. The next morning I held my breath to see if the jar would pop when Thom opened it (signifying that the lid was properly sealed) and voila! It did.
The jam tastes great, with a bright guava-y taste and no bitterness. As I mentioned above the only problem is that it turned out too stiff for our tastes so I’ll adjust the recipe accordingly next time. So, the next time you come to Casa del Jayne you can expect guava jam to accompany your home-made whole wheat bread!
Here’s the complete recipe from http://www.food.com.
PINK GUAVA JAM
About This Recipe
(by Chez Jonny, September 2010) “This recipe was created because of a complete lack of pink guava recipes on the web. I hope you’ll enjoy this creamy, buttery, beautifully pink jam as much as I do. Delicious on toast or on crackers with manchego cheese. Can be used as a tropical glaze as well.”
- 2 cups guavas
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons dry pectin
- Use only ripe pink guavas for this recipe; pink guavas are ripe with they either fall off the tree on their own or when they come off the tree when barely touched. They will be bright pink on the inside and quite soft. Wash.
- Cut the guavas in half, using a small spoon to carefully spoon out the middle sections containing seeds. Do not allow a single seed to remain as they are quite hard and unpleasant to bite into; people with dentures may want to injure you if one slips inches Set aside seedless guava “meat.” (Shells and seeds make good fertilizer for the garden.) Freeze if you cannot make jam on the same day — a good option as guavas mature at greatly varying times.
- Place guava “meat” into blender and pulse until relatively but not completely smooth. Measure before placing into nonreactive pot for boiling. Using this measurement, add the same amount of sugar to the “meat.” If you have two cups of guava “meat,” add two cups of granulated sugar (i.e. one-for-one). Add two tablespoons of pectin and the juice of two small limes (or one large Persian lime). Bring to rolling boil for 20 minutes, stirring continually. The jam will be become a more intense pink/red color at this point.
- Pour guava jam into sterilized jars and process in boiling water for ten minutes, with at least one inch of water over top of jars. Remove from canner pot and place on a towel, allowing jars to cool. Listen for lids to pop signifying airtight seal. Remove rings only, dry, and re-place them on the jars. Store away.