The weather is lovely in this month of December here in Bombay. Bombay being located by the sea, has the advantage of having an equitable climate. The winters and summers are therefore not harsh. Towards the end of December cartloads of juicy looking guavas begin appearing in the market and my mum with unfailing regularity treats herself to some of the juiciest of guavas from Allahabad and heads to the kitchen to make some delicious guava jelly. The visual delight of seeing her pour the red jelly into bottles coupled with the appetizing aroma is enough to make me lose control and reach out for a slice of bread and spread this jelly and greedily munch on it.
As a child I always wondered why this was called jelly by my grandmother (she made it earlier) and my mom and not jam. I was pretty ignorant about what exactly jelly is; to me jelly was the branded instant jelly crystal packets available in supermarkets and at the grocer. I later learnt that jelly is made from the juice of the fruit while jam is made from crushed or pureed fruit.
It is important to know how to select the right guava. If the guava is not of the right variety the jelly will not have the taste, aroma or the right colour. In India the best quality guavas are found in Allahabad in North India.
Ripe guavas from Allahabad with red spots are just right for the jelly. I remember once a lady decided to make guava jelly with a different variety of guava and the jelly did not have the red colour, frustrated she insisted that my mum probably added colour.
My mum always points out buy the right variety guavas which are fully ripe and you do not have to worry about the colour.
I personally always prefer homemade jams and jellies as they do not have added colours and preservatives; I always find the taste of commercially available jams and jellies a bit synthetic.
Here is the recipe:
- 3 big ripe guavas (see photo).
- 1 ¼ litre water (approximately).
- Sugar to taste.
- Few drops of lemon juice.
- Chop the guavas into medium size pieces.
- Fill a large vessel with water and boil guavas.
- The quantity of water given above is approximate; the quantity will depend upon the size of the guavas. It is important to take sufficient water so that you do not have to add more water while boiling the guavas; if you do so it will affect the taste and colour of the jelly.
- Boil the guavas till the pieces become tasteless.
- Now strain the juice and discard the guava pieces.
- In the picture above you can see the juice now has a tinge of colour.
- Add sugar to the juice and boil. Lower flame and keep stirring.
- When the juice begins to thicken, taste it to check whether the sugar is right.
- Remember too little sugar will make the resultant jelly very watery. Too much sugar will make the jelly very sticky as the sugar will crystallize and you will be unable to spread it.
- Once the jelly thickens add a few drops of lemon juice. The lemon juice acts as a preservative.
- Switch off flame and wait for it cool. Once it is cool take a spoonful of the jelly and gently pour to check the consistency as shown in the photo below.
Store jelly in sterile airtight bottles. If you store in the refrigerator it will set. If the consistency is right you will have no difficulty spreading it on your slice of toast or plain bread.
I like to take a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and top it with some of this delicious jelly; the ice-cream tastes yum with the jelly.
This winter you may also like to try Beetroot Soup