When I was a child, I hated peas. I hated their spherical shape, their colour, their taste and most of all their mushy texture – which I imagine is what a caterpillar would taste like. Unfortunately, my mother loved peas and would often exclaim in exasperation, “Eat your peas, Louise!” Geez! So I took to hiding them, under a piece of roast chicken, hidden amongst a mound of baby carrots, studded into a heap of mashed potato, the slightest green peeping through, the best hiding spot, or so I thought, was under the shell of half a gem squash – how conspicuous is that? I was bust by the pea police every time! The worst part about my intense dislike for peas, was that if you didn’t eat all your vegetables, you didn’t get pudding! Cruel and unusual punishment I tell you! One of my absolute favourite puddings was Koo tinned guavas in a light syrup, served with a spoonful of vanilla instant pudding. Bliss. Something about the sharpness of that guava in that sweet syrup, flecked with guava pips was the height of deliciousness to my 6-year-old self, and if it meant swallowing a spoon of the dreaded peas, so be it. I sure as hell wouldn’t do it for tinned peaches and custard though!
So yesterday, in the grip of nostalgia, I purchased 8 perfectly ripe guavas and decided to poach them. Guavas are a member of the Myrtle family and are enjoyed in both sweet and savoury dishes. They are regarded as a superfruit, as they are rich in fibre, folic acid and a single guava contains four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Gosh – I’m beginning to talk Wikipedia! eek! So I came up with this delectable little offering, which would make a lovely summer pudding or a fabulous addition to your next breakfast/brunch, served with a good dollop of Greek yoghurt. In terms of poaching the fruit, a number of recipes suggest that you scoop the seeds out of the halved guavas – but to be perfectly honest, I will leave them in next time, as the few that remained in mine added a lovely texture to the dish – in much the same way that granadilla pips do – but if you’re happier without them by all means, remove them.
Mexican Poached Guavas
1kg Guavas (about 8 guavas)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 vanilla pod
juice of half a lime (or to taste)
2 cinnamon sticks
Greek yoghurt for serving
Peel the guavas, halve and scoop out the centre core and seeds. Set the shells aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon and lime juice ( add the lime a little at a time to suit your taste), over medium heat. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, adding them, along with the pod to the pan. Bring to just below boiling point, reduce the heat and allow to simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. Your kitchen is going to smell amazing! Strain the syrup, through a sieve and return to a saucepan, add the guavas and cook over medium heat, for about 8 minutes. They should be soft and will collapse a little – just don’t let them disintegrate. If that does happen, keep cooking the mixture – guavas are high in pectin and you’ll end up with a lovely jam! Scoop the guavas out of the syrup with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Increase the heat and reduce the syrup by half. Pour the hot syrup over the guavas and cool before refrigerating. Serve with Greek yoghurt.