No, it's not pink lemonade but this delicious fruit punch was made from the fruit of a tree in our garden that has produced an abundant harvest this summer - the cherry or strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) which thrives in our warm sub-tropical climate. The fruit which are packed with vitamin C makes a fabulous jelly which can be served with cold meats and is a fabulous addition to a cheeseboard. It can even be used as a glaze for roasted potatoes and kumara. As we have so many guavas on the tree this year I knew I would have to find another use for them apart from jelly which I was also planning to make on this occasion. I decided to check out the recipes in this book which is my preserving bible.
Guess where I lived when I first bought this book? A New Zealand Country Harvest Cookbook by Gillian Painter has recipes for all the fruit we grow down under - tamarillos, mulberries, feijoas (also known as the pineapple guava) kiwi fruit and there is a recipe for guava jelly but no recipes for drinks or cordials made from the fruit so I decided to adapt the recipe for rhubarb punch using the juice that was extracted from the guavas during the jelly making process.
I picked over 3 kilos of fruit on just one visit to the tree. I actually like to eat them straight off the tree, to me they are almost sherbert like when ripe but not everyone may like their slightly tart flavour. A few had been pecked by the birds but the usual cherry guava thief, the green catbird has been heard but not seen on too many occasions in the garden this summer.
In preparation for making the jelly the guavas went into a pot and were covered with water - approximately 8-10 cups. Simmer for half an hour and watch the water turn pink. I set aside approximately 2 cups of this pink water to use for the punch which I poured through a sieve into a clean pot. (The fruit and remaining juice was set aside for making the jelly later.) Here's the recipe for the punch
2 cups of guava juice extracted as above
1 litre of cold water (approx 4 cups)
1 and 1/2 cups raw sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
sparkling mineral water or lemonade to serve
1. Place guava juice and water into a preserving pan and heat.
2. Stir in the sugar and bring to the boil.
3. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
4. Add the orange and lemon juice.
5.Pour into clean sterilized bottles.
6.When ready to serve, dilute half and half with sparkling mineral water or lemonade. A sprig of mint makes a lovely decorative garnish for this punch.
Although I used sterilized bottles I was not intending this to be a drink to be kept. It was a hot and humid day and we enjoyed it as soon as it was sufficiently cool to serve! It looked so pretty in the French lemonade bottles I had kept for this purpose but it didn't last long. It was declared delicious by every member of the family and it was so refreshing. We enjoyed ours with sparkling mineral water. There are plenty more cherry guavas yet to ripen on the tree. My next batch will be for a Valentines Day drink as it is the perfect colour for such an occasion!
And so onto making the guava jelly.....
I followed Gillian Painter's recipe which uses approximately 2 and 1/2 kilos of fruit which is covered with 10 cups of water and heated for about 30 minutes on the stove top. I didn't have a proper jelly bag so I used a chux cloth to strain the fruit overnight.
Remember not to squeeze the bag and just allow it to drip through the cloth into the bowl. If you squeeze and attempt to help the fruit seep through, your jelly will end up cloudy. If you don't have any kitchen twine to string up your makeshift jelly bag try some nylon lace. It worked just fine for me tied onto the overhead kitchen door!
The lovely dark pink liquid is now ready to go into the preserving pan to be heated and brought to the boil and boiled until setting point is reached. For every 2 and 1/2 cups of liquid 2 cups of sugar is required. The recipe I was following did not use pectin just the juice of 1 lemon but after some time with my jelly refusing to set I decide to add in some pectin - about 25grams (1oz) Within minutes it had reached setting point and was ready to go into warm sterilized jars. It turned out perfectly. It is such a beautiful shade of ruby red - almost looks like wine in a jar and the flavour of those guavas - Oh my, forget the tomato chutney I made a few weeks ago from this season's cherry tomatoes, this is now the favourite preserve to come out of my kitchen this summer.
The metal shelves are a recent addition to my country kitchen. I like to change the displays often and they are the perfect place to set out our jars of preserves. I use the red transferware cups as measuring cups. The cream crocheted trimmed tea towels are made in Denmark and purchased locally. I bought one and a friend bought me one as a gift. They are too nice for drying dishes. I use them to cover up trays of baking that come out of the oven.
After a very wet summer that ruined many of my vegetable crops apart from the rhubarb and cherry tomatoes it was heartening to see so much fruit come off the trees and vines. Just prior to the cherry guavas, the lilly pillies ripened. We harvested a huge bunch of Lady Finger bananas recently and they have ripened within days once brought inside. What a blessing to be able to give away bags of bananas to visiting friends.
And being picked and consumed daily are these beautiful passion fruit. The vine covers our chook house and the fence of the chicken run and this summer it is dripping with fruit. Each day the children bring up eggs and a handful of ripe fruit. Very soon there will be so much fruit another jam making session will be required.
Our cherry guava is also a favourite abode for a green tree snake that has been visiting us recently. Perhaps that explains why the birds have not been visiting it! This snake is non-venomous by the way. He slipped off the wet fencing and onto the ground and slithered away and I wasn't afraid! Once upon a time I would have not dared to go and pick fruit from a tree just days after seeing this guy so close by. We have a pond here so it's not surprising that we have snakes.
Or frogs which of course attract snakes! I have to say I prefer the frog visitors even if their incessant croaking at nightfall and after rain showers is soon going to make the wearing of earplugs a necessity!
What a beautiful amphibian! This was one of the biggest green tree frogs we have ever seen here.
The centre of attention and admired by all before being returned to the tree by the pond.
What fruit have you harvested this summer or enjoyed as preserves if you are still in winter?
Have there been 'visitors' from the wild to your garden? Welcome or unwelcome. Do share!