Serve the Warm Holiday Welcome of Ponche
Traditions play such an important role in every holiday celebrated around the world, no matter what your nationality or religion. They contribute to our memories and bring a sense of comfort and belonging to us. In Guatemala, ponche, or "punch" is a traditional drink made at Christmas time. It is made by simmering fresh fruits, dried fruits and spices together and It goes along with the posada tradition. People prepare it to offer the group that is seeking shelter just like Mary and Joseph did the night Jesus was born. Originally served at "Noche Buena" or Christmas Eve, some families now start making it as soon as the weather gets cooler. However, like many things, this original association may have been lost and it is a way to celebrate the whole holiday season.
While Ponche recipes can vary across Guatemala, most of them start with a base of pineapple. Our recipe also calls for papaya, apples, coconut, raisins, prunes, cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Guatemalans have always prevented food waste by making use of the entire food source - from fruits to vegetables to animals. In this case, even the pineapple peel is used in the recipe (and removed before serving). The peel contains valuable enzymes like bromelain that have anti-inflammatory and healing properties. After chopping the pineapple, apple, papaya, the coconut is shredded and everything is added into a large pot with water, a cinnamon stick and cloves.
The mixture is brought to a boil then simmered for 45 minutes. Sugar can then be added after a taste test. Depending on how ripe your fruit is - you may not need any! Add chopped prunes and raisins and simmer for 15 more minutes.
While ponche is usually served warm, it can be enjoyed cold too. Simmering the fruits together in a large pot paired with cinnamon and cloves will make your house smell amazing. Ponche can be made ahead of time and warmed up whenever you need it.
Ladle the warm punch into mugs. Keep spoons handy for your guests so they can scoop up the fruit. A shot of white or dark rum makes for a tasty cocktail too.
Of course sweet and crunchy champurradas, Guatemalan cookies would complement Ponche quite well.