For both holiday and winter time celebrating, there is no beating the warm and fruity comfort of a great mug of ponche. Used to commemorate both festive days and special family events, ponche is as unique and diverse as the people that enjoy it.
Recipes for ponche vary in many ways with some preferring less cinnamon and tamarind pods while others omit the alcohol altogether. Whatever the case this flavorful drink is flexible in its execution and can be tailored to the tastes of its eager, adoring audience.
Ponche de Fruta
1 cup dry jamaica flowers
1 gallon water
½ lb tejocotes*
½ lb guavas, fresh
½ lb prunes
sugar cane, peeled and cut into 4 to 5” sticks**
2 cups granulated sugar (or to taste)
1 pc Mexican cinnamon
½ lb tamarind pods or to taste
rum or red wine to taste (optional)
*depending on the time of the year, tejocotes can be found fresh, frozen, or in jars
**fresh or frozen can be used
Place jamaica flowers in a small sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep while the remaining ingredients are prepared. Strain out flowers and use only tea when ready to add to ponche.
Place water, tejocotes, guavas, prunes, sugar cane, sugar, cinnamon, and tamarind pods in a large pot and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer until fruit is soft and flavors have combined. Remove cinnamon, add jamaica tea for coloring, and adjust for sugar. Add rum or red wine to taste before serving. Serve warm making sure that each person gets fruit chunks and sugar cane sticks.
Ponche in Chicago:
All of the ingredients for making ponche can be found in your local Hispanic market, but depending on the time of year, many of the ingredients, specifically sugar cane and tejocotes, can be found in their fresh form. During the holiday season bags or ponche kits are also available where the shopper can purchase everything they need to make it in one package. One of the best locations for finding fresh fruit in the Chicagoland is La Casa del Pueblo located in the Pilsen neighborhood.