Ponche Navideno

Ponche Navideno is the traditional drink that is offered to the pilgrims and friends all over Mexico on Christmas eve as that day ends the nine days of celebrations known as the las posadas. This catholic celebration that is followed by catholics all over Latin America symbolizes the trials which Mary and Joseph endured before finding a place to stay where Mary could give birth to Jesus.
There are many, many recipes for the Ponche Navideno, but there is one that assembles most of the ingredients that they have in common.

Recipe for 30 people:
  • 7.5 litres of water
  • 1 lb tejocotes*
  • 3 whole oranges
  • 8 guavas
  • 2 lbs sugar cane
  • 1 lb pitted prunes
  • 3 pears
  • 1 Cup raisins
  • 6 oz walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 Cup of whole cloves
  • 2 1/2 lb. piloncillo**
  • 3 Cups of dark rum

In a medium saucepan, bring a litre of water to the boil. Add the tejocotes, lower the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes until softened. Remove the fruit, peel them and trim the hard endings.

Peel the sugar cane and slice it into thin medallions. Remove the stems and core the pears and cut them into large chunks. Cut the guavas and prunes in half. Stud the oranges with the whole cloves. Cut the cone of piloncillo into large chunks.

In a very large pot, bring the remaining water to the boil. Add all the fruits and nuts to the simmering water and bring it back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1h30, stirring gently from time to time. Add the piloncillo and cinnamon and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Pour some into cups, making sure each cups get some chunks of fruit and nuts. Add some rum into the cup if desired.

Enjoy it is really good!

* Tejocotes are the fruits of the hawthorn tree. They have the shape of the crab apple and have sweet and sour flavour. Their colour range from orange to yellow. They are plentifully around Christmas, in Mexico, as they rich the peak of their season there.

** Piloncillo is the name given, in Mexico, to small blocks, often shaped like truncated cones; of brown, unrefined sugar.