Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fragrant "Tejocote" Winter Punch

Last month I was browsing the usual grocery stores on Mission Street when I discovered two of my favorite smelling fruits: Tejocotes and guayabas! I immediately got some and made a warm punch like the ones prepared on the foggy Chiapas highlands. Tejocotes and guayabas are still available. Go ahead and get some, and learn how to make this punch that will help you endure the cold, rainy San Francisco night. Ready? Let's go!

Until very recently, tejocotes were not available in the US. The name is a derivative of the word "Texocotl" meaning stone fruit. They look like miniature pumpkins or apples, and have a sweet, concentrated scent reminiscent of apples and roses. Tejocotes that grown in the US are a lot smaller than the ones grown in Mexico, but the smell is just as sweet. They are not particularly good eaten by themselves, they are a bit mealy, but they are great when used in desserts and drinks. You can also get them in a jar, preserved in syrup, if you can't find fresh ones.

Oh yeah...Did I mentioned tejocotes smell wonderful?? Tejocote smell is a mood enhancer for the winter "sads", and native people used it as a form of aromatherapy. In the old days, devoted Mexicans wore necklaces made out of tejocotes as a "pick me up", on long pilgrimages by foot to spiritual gatherings and festivals. I made a tejocote collar and placed it on a fruit display, on order to keep my apartment smelling fresh.

But on to the punch! There are many recipes for this delicious beverage. The names also vary, some people call it "Ponche de Navidad", or "Ponche de Fiesta", or "Ponche de Tejocote", or simply "Ponche con Piquete" if its spiked. This is my personal recipe, it is not very sweet, and uses several other seasonal fruits. To make it, you'll need the following ingredients:
  • One cup of fresh pineapple or orange juice
  • 1 cup (about 15 small) tejocotes
  • 2 large guayabas, quartered
  • 2 apples of your choice, in eights (I'm using organic Jonagold)
  • 2 sticks of raw sugar cane, peeled and cut in sections
  • A small glass of brandy (optional)
  • 1 cup of nanche in syrup. Also known as "nance", or "nanchi". A type of mealy yellow cherry
  • Two small blood oranges, in slices
  • A pitcher of water
  • One stick of cinnamon
  • Three whole cloves
  • One whole star anise
  • Agave nectar, or raw sugar (piloncillo) to taste
To Garnish:
  • Slices of blood orange
  • Extra nances and tejocotes
  • Thin sticks of raw sugar cane
In a large pot, combine all the ingredients, with the exception of the garnishes and the agave nectar, if using. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. One the punch starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for twenty minutes, until the fruit starts to come apart. Correct the sweetness by adding agave nectar and a little bit more brandy, if you wish. Strain and serve in cups, with a sugar cane stick as a stirrer. You can also add more orange, tejocotes and nances to decorate. Makes about 6 cups.


  1. Okay, they are mealy, and smell good, but are they sweet? Or sour?

  2. Tejocotes are not sour at all (like a lemon), but they are also not incredibly sweet either...They sort of taste like raw pumpkin, with the same consistency.