As a child, I loved visiting the farm.
My late father would bring us to the farm on weekends to immerse us into "farm life." But now that I am in the business of food writing, to experience "farm life" again brings it to a different realm.
"They just gathered dozens of baskets filled with guavas and we are going to make guava jelly, would you like to come?" asked Tita Bess (my brother-in-law's mom) one morning.
The winding dirt road takes us to a vast farm blanketed by a green carpet of tropical trees: mangoes, santol, guavas. We were greeted by two large vats filled with simmering guavas. Each vat, filled with a boiling mixture of yellow and green guavas, was a sight to behold. Like golf balls swimming in a large vessel full of water, the air quickly fills with the sweet aroma of guavas. And with the sound of the crackle of the blazing firewood and the rustling of water poured into the vat, I start my immersion to this charming "farm life". My senses are overwhelmed.
The vat has been simmering for 3 hours when we get there. We arrive just in time, as they are about to strain the guavas.
Then a second step of straining is done, until the guava extract is free from seeds and other particles. While this is done, freshly picked calamansi is also being juiced.
The guava extract is poured to another vat, sugar is added along with calamansi juice.
So three hours gives me the chance to know the members of the crew...
Meet Dummo, I call him the silent worker.
And this is Fer, the master mixer.
Three hours may seem long, but I am distracted by the charm around me...
Or they use the ball test: drop some jelly in a bowl of water, if the jelly forms a ball it's time to stop boiling but if the jelly spreads, continue to simmer the mixture
Now it is time to skim off the bubbles collecting at the surface
then pour them into jars...
Now its ready for sterilization...
Soon enough, these sweet bottles of guava jelly will be distributed among friends and relatives... and each bottle will bring smiles and joy. Because they know that this is a heirloom recipe passed on to generations from more than 60 years ago.
For me, it is a sweet experience to be on the farm: being able to scoop a spoonful of freshly made jelly onto warm bread; being able to partake in guava jelly making with the crew and being one with nature. Sweet memories indeed... And the charm never wears off being at the farm.
Thank you Tita Bess for the sweet experience.