Monday, July 11, 2011

RECIPE - Guava Compote (Compota de Goiaba)

Cooking fruits in a simple sugar syrup was a solution employed by cooks and housewives in colonial Brazil for a common problem - how to preserve the bounty of a  large harvest of fruit during a time of abundance so that it would be available for use later in the year. Electrical refrigeration or freezing were not options at that time. So they employed the preservative properties of sugar to allow them to serve fruits long after the harvest - all they needed to do was to make a syrup of sugar dissolved in water, cook the fruit in the syrup, and then preserve the fruit in the same syrup in a can or jar.

Nowadays, fruits cooked in syrup (called compotas in Portuguese and often referred to as compotes in English) are still a popular food in Brazil, even though compotes aren't preservation techniques in this age of refrigeration. One of the most popular is made from guavas.

In the preparation of guava fruits for this compote which can be served as a dessert as is, or fancied up with whipped cream or ice cream, the fruit is peeled with a vegetable peeler, cut in half, then the inner pulp (the seed-bearing part of the fruit) is scooped out. This process leaves a half-shell of pulp and inner rind, which is what is used in this recipe.
RECIPE - Guava Compote (Compota de Goiaba)

1/2 lb (200 gr) prepared guava half-shells (see above) - approximately 4 whole guavas
1 1/2 cup (300 gr) granulated white sugar
2 cups (250 ml) water
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 in (3 cm) long
2 whole cloves
Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cinnimon stick and the cloves. Heat over medium heat, stirring to completely dissolve all the sugar. When the syrup is just at the boiling point, add the guava shells, and reduce heat to keep the syrup at a slow boil. Cook for about 15 minutes, gently stirring from time to time to make sure the guavas down't stick to the pan.the guavas are cooked when they can easily be pierced with the tip of a paring knife.

When the guavas are cooked, remove the pan from the heat, and remove the guavas from the hot syrup with a slotted spoon. Place the guavas in a glass or ceramic mixing or serving bowl and reserve.

Return the syrup to the stove. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil down until it is reduced by about half. Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour the syrup over the guavas and serve at room temperature or chilled.

(If canning the compote, proceed as above until the syrup has reduced by half. Pack the guavas in sterilized canning jars, using standard techniques. Pour the hop syrup over, seal, and process in a hot water bath, using standard canning techniques.)

Recipe translated and adapted from blog Naco Zinha.