Harvesting your backyard garden can be a challenge. It’s like an episode of Chopped each week as my harvest basket brings a new combination of produce to magically morph into dinner.
This round brought some rather ripe quince and a mountain of pineapple guavas that are dropping like mini-grenades from our two trees. Pineapple guavas are abundant in Santa Barbara, similar in color and texture to an olive tree, they have rounder, slightly variegated trees and delicious tropical-flavored fruit.
In the past, I’ve made Pineapple Guava Sorbet, but with that quince staring me down along with a surge of creative energy, I thought I’d try making a jam/sauce of sorts. Quince is high in pectin, making it a great natural addition to fruit jam in lieu of another thickening agent.
The result of my experiment was a success, but I just don’t know what in the hell to call it, exactly. It’s not quite a jam, more like a (delicious) replacement for cranberry sauce- it would be great with turkey or duck. It received high praise from my family served alongside Cornish game hens. It would also taste incredible with triple cream, toasted nuts and rustic bread for a cheese course—think of it as a more modern version to the ubiquitous 90’s craze of baked brie with apricot jam.
Quince and Pineapple Guava Jam
Yields about 2 cups (depending on the size of your quince- there’s a joke in there somewhere…)
In the “wild” we just pick the soften pineapple guavas off the tree, rather aggressively bite off one side and suck the fruit out (ladylike, isn’t it?). Back in the kitchen with a pairing knife, I slice off each of the ends, stand up the fruit on one end, then carve off the skin – like you would to remove the peel of an orange. Then, slice in quarters lengthwise and slice and dice.
1 large quince, skinned, cored and thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds of pineapple guava, skin removed and diced—you want to end up with around three cups of sliced fruit
1 lemon, divided
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 cinnamon stick
Splash of port
Poach the quince in the juice of ½ a lemon, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar by bringing to a boil on high heat. Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the quince begins to soften.
Add to the quince, the pineapple guava, ¼ sugar, one glug of port and stir to incorporate. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer – taste for sweetness adding up to ¼ more sugar if necessary. Cook for an additional 10 minutes on medium/low heat.
Store in a glass airtight container. It will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge.