My small apartment wafted with the smell of Christmas, a Mexican Christmas, I was thrilled. We were also snipping away making paper snowflakes, kinda ironic.
Sipping on Ponche Navideno, in Texas.
Making snowflakes, in Texas.
Oh well it’s Christmas, my girls were excited, hubby was perched on a step stool taping each snowflake to the ceiling attempting to make our apartment a winter wonderland. Ponche Navideno is a traditional Mexican fruit punch served throughout the holidays. Either at parties, during the posadas or on Christmas Eve.
Posadas are an enactment of looking for lodging of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary, called The Pilgrims going to Bethlehem for the Census according to the Scriptures. In Spanish we called them: “Los Peregrinos, San José y la Virgen María”. Each family in a neighborhood, will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, starting on the 16th of December and finishing on the 24th on Noche Buena.
Every home will have a Nativity scene. The hosts of the home are the innkeepers, and the neighborhood children and adults are Los Peregrinos, who have to request lodging through singinga simple chant. Allcarry small lit candles in their hands and four teenagers of about the same height are chosen to carry Los Peregrinos, which are two small statues of St. Joseph leading a donkey, which Virgen Mary is riding sidesaddle. The head of the procession will have a candle inside of a paper lamp shade that looks like an accordion but open at the top and it is called a “Farolito” or little lantern.
The Peregrinos will ask for lodging in three different houses but only the third one will allow them in. That will be the house that is supposed to have the Posada for that evening. Once the innkeepers let them in, the group of guests comes into the home and kneels around the Nativity scene to pray the Rosary. The Rosary is a traditional Catholic prayer, which consists of the following prayers: 50 Hail Mary, 5 Our Father , 5 Glory and the Litany, which is a series of Praises for the Virgin Mary, plus singing traditional songs like Holy Night in Spanish of course!
After all the prayer is done, then it comes the party for the children. There will be a pinata, filled with peanuts in the shell, oranges, tangerines, sugar canes, and seldom wrapped hard candy.
from Mexican Traditions
This punch is very, very simple to make. No baby sitting needed, only a occasional walk by to stir or add a bit of water if needed. Here in Edinburg, they had sign at the local stores showcasing this traditional punch, but no tejocotes.
I asked the produce manager and he stated they did not get any in this year. I quickly called my mom to complain and ask for suggestions. She in turn called my aunt who said I should go to another specialty store, about 20 minutes away. No luck there either. I visited about 5 stores determined to find tejocotes. My daughter out of frustration and tiredness thought we should look in the freezer section. There we found tejocotes, frozen.
So heads up try your freezer section, if you can find these fresh, use fresh as they are of better quality. You will also need piloncillo, chopped, which can be a job in itself. Be careful as the piloncillo is very solid, I cut my 8 oz cone into two and slipped the pieces in pot. No problem they melted into the punch with ease. Served warm this punch is a perfect addition to your holidays. Enjoy! Sweet Life!
I leave with a bit of info on the ingridients used to make this flavorful punch.
piloncillo– unrefined sugar usually found shaped into cones, named after the word pilon, piloncillo is made from extracting sugar can juices then cooking until a caramel consistency which is then poured into molds. They can be found in two size 3/4 ounces or
9 ounces. If you cannot fined piloncillo brown sugar can be replaced. To use you will need to grate the piloncillo, extra work but worth the effort for it add such a earthy flavor to any recipe. If wrapped well and stored in a cool dry place, they can last indefinitely.
tejocotes – are a Mexico winter fruit, a crab apple taste with a hard seed. They were once not allowed in the US because they harbor a exotic insect pest, they are available now fresh, frozen or jarred.
image from Robblog, Houston Texas blog Dec 2009
guavas– plum sized, yellowish skin fruit with a pear like taste. their inside is filled with smaller seeds, some edible other very tough. they can be used for liquados, aguas or candied. they are also found in almibar ( sugar syrup). I love them for their smell reminds me of my grandfather.
tamarind – resembles a brown bean pod, with a sweet/tart taste. remove the brown outer husk to peel the pulp with your fingers or boil the entire pod to make removing easier. tamarind paste, pulp or puree can be found at most store. you can use it to make aguas, cocktail, marinades and sauces.
Christmas Fruit Punch
by Fany Gerson
My Sweet Mexico
2 quarts water
2 (6inch) pieces canela. cut into pieces (cinnamon)
8 ounces tejocotes, left whole
6 large guavas, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
2 Gala, Fuji, or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large bite-sized pieces
2 (4inch) pieces sugarcane, peeled and cut into pieces
1 cup pitted prunes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup dark raisins
5 long tamarind pods, peeled and seeded, or 3 tbsp tamarind pulp (no seeds)
6 to 8 ounces chopped piloncillo or dark brown sugar
3/4 cup brandy, or tequila (optional)
Combine the water, canela, and tejocotes in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain a constant soft simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tejocotes are soft.
Remove from heat, scoop out the tejocotes, then peel them and remove the hard bit. Return them to the pot and add the guavas, apples, sugar cane, prunes, raisins, tamarind, and piloncillo.
Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. Add the liquor, discard the canela, pour into cups, and serve.
makes 3 quarts