Tag Archives: fruit

Driving around

2 Jul

A few days ago I was driving back to town with a couple of friends after a visit to Porto Alegre.  Along the road connecting Rio Grande and Pelotas (more or less at GPS 31.972338 Lat. S, 52.299728 Long. W) we found a couple of farmers selling some home grown products we just couldn’t resist, as they looked incredibly tasty and fresh, specially a nice variety of pumpkins.

Pumpkins are the fruit of plants belonging to the genus Cucurbita, natives to the New World.  They are abundant throughout the Americas, being consumed in the region for more than 5,000 years.  The Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro discovered them in Peru in the XVIth century, and took some seeds back to his homeland, from where it spread all over the world.  Stems and seeds dated from 7,000 to 5,000 BC have been found in the Tamaulipas mountains in Mexico.

Take a look at the pictures below and tell me if you would resist buying a couple of them (sorry, but I was unable to find the variety names in English, as the genus Cucurbita encompasses 10 species with several dozens of varieties).  The price?  Around US$ 0.50/kg.

"Moranga" variety

"Moranga"

Brazilian girl or neck pumpkin

Brazilian girl or neck pumpkin

"Caravela"

"Caravela"

"Tetsukabuto"

"Tetsukabuto"

"Mogango"

"Mogango"

Butternut Squash on Foodista
Spaghetti Squash on Foodista
Pumpkin on Foodista

“Fenadoce” in Pelotas, Southern Brazil – A Sweet Adventure

15 Jun

Until next June 21, the city of Pelotas, once a leading center in the production of a salt dried meat called “charque” (I will surely write a bit about that on another occasion), is holding its annual “Feira Nacional do Doce” – FENADOCE (something like a National Fair on Sweets) based specially on traditional Portuguese recipes.  Clearly, something not to be missed, if you enjoy sugar in its several forms and presentations.  Thus, last weekend I drove about 60 km with my family to taste some of the most delicious sweets they  have available for the near 300,000 people who visit the fair annually.

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Among my favorite sweets are the crystallized (or candied) fruits, specially figs.  A small factory was set up inside the fair so that you could follow their industrial preparation, which in fact is not very different from what you can do at home.  The central ideia of the process is to make the fruit absorb sugar to saturation point preventing the growth of microorganisms.  The fruits can then be kept in dried places for quite a long time.

Fenadoce in Pelotas/Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit, peaches in this case

You will need a large pan and about 5 kg of green figs, 4 kg of sugar, some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water.  Wash the figs, cover them with water, add 2-3 spoons of baking soda, and bring to boil for about 30 min.  Drain the water and wash the figs.  Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water just enough to cover the fruits, and then boil them for about 2-3 hours.  I usually add one small piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves to the syrup. Let the fruits cool down in the syrup and reserve until the next day, so that they have plenty of time to absorb the sugar.  In the next day bring to boil again for another 2-3 hours. Let them cool once again in the syrup and then remove the fruits and put them to dry on a sieve for another day. After dried pass the fruits in crystal sugar and return them back the sieve for another couple of hours.  Repeat the last step once or twice until the fruits are fully dried and covered with the crystal sugar.

Crystallized (candied) figs

Crystallized (candied) figs

You can try the same basic recipe with other fruits, like peaches, bananas, etc (if the fruit is large cut it in small pieces).  I guarantee the final result is worth the effort.

Crystallized (candied) peaches

Crystallized (candied) peaches

If you happen to be in Brazil in June don’t miss the next FENADOCE, which, as I’ve already pointed, is an annual event.

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