Wednesday, May 5, 2010

RECIPE- Guavas in Syrup (Goiaba em Calda)

In yesterday's post about traditional food preparation techniques, I mentioned that I would be posting some Brazilian recipes which highlight the way the culinary traditions of Brazil were shaped by the necessity to preserve foods in the tropical heat of this country.

One of the economic foundations of the early Portuguese colonies which eventually became Brazil was the sugar cane plantation. Particularly in Brazil's northeastern regions, the cultivation of sugar cane was the economic incentive for the formation of colonies, and the profits from world-wide trade in Brazilian sugar sustained not only the colonies themselves, but the mother country of Portugal. Sugar was an important trade item not only because humans are genetically coded to appreciate sweet foods, but because of sugar's preservative qualities. In an age before electric refrigeration, preserving food, particularly fruits, in sugar allowed it to remain edible for an extended period of time.

One of the easiest techniques for preserving fruits is to cover them with a sugar syrup. The sugar syrup retards spoilage, and allows the taste of fresh fruit to be enjoyed months after the harvest season. Because of the abundance of sugar on sugar cane plantations, preserving fruits this was was a common practice, and the Brazilian palate developed a taste for fruits in sugar syrup (calda in Portuguese).

Although freezing, dehydrating, and other preservation techniques are available today in Brazil, Brazilians still love fruits in syrup, and there are numerous recipes for every possible type of fruit. Here is a recipe for guava in syrup that comes from the northeastern state of Pernambuco.
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RECIPE- Guavas in Syrup
Serves 10

15 ripe, firm guavas
5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 quart (1 litre) water
12 cloves
2 inch (5 cm.) piece, cinnamon stick
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Peel the guavas. Halve them, then remove the seedy core of the fruit. Reserve.

In a large saucepan or stockpot, combine the sugar, water, cloves and cinnamon stick, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a slow boil over medium high heat, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the syrup thickens to the point it coats a spoon. (Do not let over-thicken).

Add the guava halves to the syrup, and continue cooking until the guava is tender and easily pierced with the point of a small knife. Do not overcook.

Let guava cool in syrup. Left in syrup, the guavas can remain up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Alternatively, they can be processed and canned in glass jars, using standard canning techniques to ensure sterilization.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brazileira by Abril Editora.

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