Ponche Navideño is a typical Mexican drink served on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and during the posadas, the 9-day celebration leading up to Christmas. During the days of celebration, a steaming pot of Ponche Navideño should always be kept hot and ready for guests.
This drink recipe uses the traditional Mexican flavorings such as fresh sugar cane, guavas and tejocotes (a crabapple-type fruit) and is usually spiked with rum then served piping hot to ward off the cold winter. For the kids just leave out the rum, everyone loves warm fruit punch.
Ponche Navideño Mexicano
- 4 quarts water
- 1 large piloncillo cone or 12 oz. of brown sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 lb Tejocotes
- 1½ Lb. guavas about 12 guavas
- ¾ cup prunes chopped
- 1½ cup apples chopped
- 1 cup pear chopped
- ½ cup raisins
- 3 sugar cane sticks about 5-in. long cut into four pieces each
- 1 cup Tamarind pods peeled
- Rum to taste
- Place water in a large stockpot.
- Add the piloncillo (or brown sugar) and cinnamon to cook for about 15 minutes. If you are using fresh Tejocotes, add them with the piloncillo and cinnamon, since they take longer to soften. Ponche Navideno
- Add the chopped guavas, apples, and prunes along with the rest of the ingredients like the sugar cane sticks, tamarind pods or hibiscus flowers. If you are using the canned version of the tejocotes, then add them in this step.
- Simmer for about 1 hour. Serve hot in mugs, ladling in some of the fruit and adding rum to your liking.
The punch traces its history to India, as its name in Sanskrit – pañc – translates into Spanish as “five”. That refers to its original five ingredients, which were alcohol, sugar, water, lemon and tea or different spices.
This drink was brought by the sailors of the fleets of the British East India Company to England. Once it arrived in these British lands, the punch began to spread to different countries throughout the continent. It was for this reason that when the Spanish arrived in America, they brought with them the knowledge to prepare this distinctive concoction.
However, the recipe from Mexico bears little resemblance to the original from India or the British one. The truth is that Mexican fruit punch is a combination of European traditions with indigenous culture. It is this mixture that, like many other aspects of our current culture, gave rise to this Christmas drink.
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