“Tejocote” the Mexican Hawthorne fruit – A Once Forbidden Fruit!
Have you ever heard of the ‘tejocote’ fruit, pronounced “te-ho-COT-e”? ‘Tejocote’ can be translated in the Nahuatl language (language of the Aztec tribe) to ‘texocotl’ meaning “stone fruit”, they may also be known as the Mexican Hawthorne or ‘Manzanilla’ fruit. It is native to the mountainous regions of Mexico and Guatemala. These little guys have a rich history and nutrition profile that crosses borders, literally! Tiny and cute, tejocotes come with great nutritional and traditional qualities that at one point in recent history made them forbidden.
Tejocotes were once almost impossible to obtain fresh due to U.S. border restrictions, however due to its popular demand the tejocote fruit would still find it’s way to the States (it was not allowed to pass due to agriculture regulations, e.g. no exotic pests from other regions are to be brought via produce, etc.). This very reason is what made tejocotes forbidden! Eventually Southern California farmers brainstormed ideas to help the Mexican Hawthorne fruit build a permanent home in the produce industry. These farmers sought out a great opportunity to instead commercialize these golden fruits by growing and harvesting them in the USA. This would help decrease the high prices of fresh tejocotes, (one pound of tejocotes would typically sell from $8-$10).
Thanks to fast thinking farmers, now you can find these gems fresh in Latin grocery stores. They still are hard to find since it’s a fairly new crop being commercialized but you can still find them in many other grocery stores in their more affordable forms (frozen or jarred).
So why is the tejocote a small yet prized fruit?
One reason is due to the popular traditional drink, Mexican Ponche, or Mexican Spiced Fruit Punch. Served warm during the Fall and Winter holidays, this is like the hot cocoa for many Latin populations. Tejocotes, guavas, apples, sweet spices and raw sugar cane sticks are just some of the ingredients used in this tangy sweet traditional drink. All the fruits mentioned above make this sweet drink rich in many immune-fighting nutrients. Tejocotes specifically are rich in Vitamin C and its colorful antioxidants in the form of Vitamin A or carotenoids prepare our immunity for cooler days. It has been called a fruit with much potential is also currently being researched for its nutritious characteristics.
Tejocotes taste best cooked but can also be eaten raw. It has slight bitter undertones but when cooked its sweetness shines. It is also high in pectin which makes this fruit a favorite for candy makers.
The traditional Mexican Ponche is a must for cool Fall or Winter days, so if there is a cold front coming your way make sure to get your ponche recipe game on! Watch the video below for a quick guide on making traditional Mexican Ponche.
Have you tried Mexican Ponche? What traditions do you follow around cooler season days? Let us know in the comments below!
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Hi there! My name is Jennifer Rodriguez. I’m a Latina Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Professional Food Photographer and owner & founder of Food is Vida! This is where (as an inspired & experienced food expert) I share tips about health, wellness & most importantly preventive nutrition! Preventive nutrition is simply seeing the true value of food, respecting it and balancing it in our everyday ‘vida’ or life. Join me as I share my love for food & life photography, vegan recipes you wouldn’t believe are vegan, foodie stories/ facts & more!