We spent the most wonderful weekend in the Paarl Winelands recently, complete with open clear winter’s days and nights under a thick duvet in a Cape Dutch house circa 1692 on the historical farm De Kleijne Bos(also known as Helena).
The nearby farm Kleinbosch in Dal Josafat is rich with the heritage of our unique Afrikaans language roots and I read that the great Totius, Afrikaans writer and poet was born on this farm and also spent his last days there. Back at De Kleijne Bos Manor House, we ate delicious pink guavas with breakfast and the manager Jan Botha invited us to pick fruit from the farm orchard where the guava trees were planted over a 100 years ago, still going strong and produces tons of fruit for the canning market.
Well of course we obliged and Jan also gave us a container of his own guava in syrup to try out. His secret is to peel the fruit, slice in thick slices and layer with sugar and leaving it in a covered container( plastic container with lid or glass container covered with cling wrap) overnight in the fridge. The sugar and fruit juices form a thick sauce and the fruit retains an intense guava flavour as if freshly picked from the trees. No cooking and delicious! This can keep for a maximum of 5 days in a fridge.
Jan inspired me and on our way home I bought the right “tools” to preserve our bag of guavas and armed with sugar, cinnamon sticks and pretty glass containers I started peeling and boiling even before I unpacked my suitcase. Nothing like the urgency of inspiration!( or the obsessiveness of creating…)
The top photo is Jan’s uncooked self- saucing layers and the bottom photo is the old style preserving cooked method.
I used the recipe below from Die Volledige Suid-Afrikaanse Kookboek 1980 Edition passed on from my mother’s collection and I have never tried preserving anything before!
250 ml sugar
500 ml water
I used about 20 guavas
Sterilise glass screw top jars in a dishwasher or by leaving it in boiled water until cooled down. Boil ingredients together until sugar is melted. Add peeled and halved guavas and boil until guavas are soft( still firm, not too mushy). Put the fruit and cinnamon sticks in the jars and fill up with syrup, remove bubbles by inserting the handle of a spoon in the jar and releasing the air. Fasten lid while hot and the steam will seal the bottle.
And there you have it! I preserved fruit and it worked like a charm.
We were paying guests at De Kleijne Bos Country Manor and treated like royalty by managers Rene and Jan Botha who can be visited at www.1692dekleijnebos.com