A Christmas Gift from Mexico

There is no Mexican posada (traditional Christmas-season party) without ponche. The merlot-colored drink is made with traditional fruits from winter season and spices, like hibiscus flowers, apples, guavas, tejocotes (a species of hawthorn, native to the mountains of Mexico) and cinnamon. This is no strict recipe, each person gives it their own touch, but the brew is cooked for a long time to get the perfect flavour balance of every ingredient. Ponche can be alcoholic or non alcoholic, the alcohol is added after in every single cup of ponche, normally rum or brandy (spike it your way!).

The tradition of this heart-warming pot comes from the caring grandmothers pampering the whole family, to make them warm inside and out during the time of posadas. Normally its made in enormous pots so that big families and friends don't miss out. 

This is a big pot of Mexican Christmas spirit, with a powerful smell that  means celebration and bringing families together.

Ponche in a Poem


by Fatima Ortiz
I want this love to reach you
sitting on a couch,
walking down the street,
waiting for the metro,
taking a break to read,
spending your currency of time.

I wish for this to be
a symbol of appreciation,
for what your soul does
for the benefit of all.

The small acts of kindness
nobody sees you do.

For this love will travel,
in the form of a beverage
called ponche,
scented by the guavas,
the uneven colors
of the freshly picked tejocotes,
and the apples so gentle.

Caressed by the hibiscus flowers
that gave it its color,
the brown unrefined sugar
from the fields,
the raisins, prunes
and the cinnamon,
crossing altogether the ocean.

It will bring along
the spirit of this Mexico lands,
grateful to the core,
for the generosity of the Earth.

You can think of it
as a warm deep red juice
for the heart.

Sweet, profound and citrus flavors
having a conversation,
held in adorned pottery cups,
shared within a festive spirit.

Ponche is time and attention
boiled down to a taste so complex,
it’s hard to put into words.

So I send the love instead,
the sincere symbolic hug,
that can make your eyes water,
and your heart feel
the warmth.






Recipe

Makes about 10 litres

7 apples
1 kg guava
1 kg tejocotes, pitted
8 prunes, pitted
10 L water
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
3 cinnamon sticks
2 cups unrefined brown sugar
250 g raisins
chopped pecans, to garnish
brandy, rum or another alcohol of personal preference (optional)

1. Cut the apples, guava, tejotes and prunes into bite-sized pieces. 

2. Add the water to a large cooking pot over a high heat. Add the hibiscus flowers, cinnamon, and sugar and bring to the boil. Allow the mixture to boil until the flowers have let go of their color and flavor (about 10 minutes), then remove the flowers.

2. Add chopped fruit and raisins, and let the mixture boil for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for (at least) a further 1 hour.

3. Remove the ponche from the heat and let it cool, then  boil one or two more times to get a richer body and taste.

4. Serve ponche hot, divided into separate cups and topped with some chopped pecans and alcohol (if desired).

People love to eat the fruit in the end, so serving the cups with a spoon is suggested.