Category Archives: Mexican Food and Drink

Natural Remedies — Cherimoya

It’s that time again.  Walking in our backyard has become a hazard.  When you least expect it, heavy green fruit balls just might fall on your head.  So beware!

Our cherimoya, AKA chirimoya, chirmuya or custard apple, tree is loaded this year.   This strange name comes from the Quechua language and means “cold seeds” so called because the tree grows at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4, 200 to 8,500 ft) and must have cooler weather periodically or will eventually go dormant.  There are several varieties of cherimoya.  The one in our backyard is the Annona cherimola.

You know a cherimoya is ripe when it has the consistency of a ripe avocado when squeezed, a bit mushy but is not yet brown and rotty. The peel and seeds are not edible.  In fact, the seeds are poisonous when crushed.  They contain small amounts of neurotoxic acetogenins like annonacin.  Dried seeds that have been ground into powder can be used to make a paste that can help get rid of hair lice.

Cherimoya tree bark extract is also dangerous.  If injected it can induce paralysis. I don’t know how anyone would have discovered that by accident, but it’s a useful fact to know. The leaves have long been used to treat hypercholesterolemia in Mexico and scientific study has confirmed that there is a basis for their use in treating high cholesterol. Cherimoya leaves have also been used traditionally in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and again, scientific studies confirm its use for those illnesses.

“We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a

And oh, the taste!  Once you break open a cherimoya, the inside is creamy white. The riper it is, the sweeter and softer the texture.  While I’ve seen descriptions of the flavor ranging from banana to bubble gum, to me, it has a sweet, citrus flavor.  In fact, they are so sweet that I can’t eat more than one.

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There’s more to these huge ugly roundish fruits than meets the eye. Cherimoya is an excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, and riboflavin.  It’s been proven to help with depression and to be suitable for the treatment of oxidative stress related disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Asperger syndrome, cancer, atherosclerosis, heart failure, myocardial infarction, Sickle Cell disease, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even tempers the wear and tear of normal aging like wrinkles, osteoporosis and gray hair. Cherimoya has also been shown to be successful in the treatment of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.

The fruit is only in season a short time, in our area mid-September to November, so it’s best to eat what you can while the cherimoya is available.

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The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy

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Herbal Fermentation

One of the things that sold me on the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle was the inclusion of Herbal Academy’s The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course normally retailed at $129 USD.  Just like the previous course I enrolled in at Herbal Academy, the Herbal Materia Medica Course, it was jampacked with information.  I’ll share a few highlights so you can see for yourself.
The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

Unit 1 was all about brewing herbal beer. Not only is it good for you, but the act of making your own beer allows you to become a part of a centuries-old brewing tradition.  The course talked about the history of beer brewing as a medicinal tonic, provided a brewing video tutorial, and even expounded on the experience of herbal beer tasting.  Included were all sorts of downloadable handouts to simplify your beer brewing efforts.

Unit 2 dealt with herbal mead.  This time there were two video tutorials as well as an entire lesson dedicated to herbal mead brewing philosophy. Again, lots of handouts and fascinating tidbits.  Did you know that the Maya made a mead called balché from tree bark and another mead from the nectar of the Morning Glory plant called xtabentún?

Unit 3 focused on kombucha and water kefir. I’d heard these two beverages mentioned time and time again as probiotic drinks and was extremely curious about the material in this unit.  There was a video tutorial for each type of fermented drink along with a lesson about sugar, caffeine, and alcohol safety concerns.

Unit 4 was devoted to lacto-fermented vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut. Again there was a video tutorial and plenty of downloadable resources.  If you are interested in just getting these handouts without enrolling in the course, Herbal Academy has made them available here.

So there you have it–a brief overview of the course.  Sadly, for me, this course was for informational purposes only.  Just like with canning, the supplies I would need to successfully ferment herbally are not available locally.  I did get a nifty badge to display proudly.

beer badge

I am looking forward to my next class with Herbal Academy, the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course, that begins October 30. There’s a discount if you register before then.  Here’s a link to a sneak preview of the course: 3 Nervine Herbs to Help Soothe Stress.

Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

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Bone Broth

Recently among the Prepper and Homesteading groups I follow, there’s been a lot of excitement about bone broth.  Apparently, it’s the best thing to come along since sliced bread.  Only, it isn’t something new.  We’ve been making bone broth for years.

For those of you not familiar with bone broth, it’s the liquid that results from boiling the bones of an animal, poultry, fish, sheep, goat, cow, pig.  That’s it. (Bone Broth Basics, Nourishing Broths, Bone Broth Benefits: From Digestion to Joint Pain, Traditional Bone Broth in Modern Health and Disease, Making Real Homemade Chicken Stock or Bone Broth, Gut-Healing Bone Broth Recipe)

It’s SOOOOO healthy.  Look at this list of health benefits!

Alphabetical Listing of Conditions that Broth Benefits

aging skin, allergies, anemia, anxiety, asthma, atherosclerosis, attention deficit, bean maldigestion, brittle nails, carbohydrate maldigestion, Celiac Disease, colic, confusion, constipation, dairy maldigestion, delusions, dental degeneration, depression, detoxification, Diabetes, diarrhea, fatigue, food sensitivities, fractures, Gastritis, grain maldigestion, heart attack, high cholesterol, hyperactivity, hyperchlorhydria (reflux, ulcer), hyperparathyroidism (primary), hypertension, hypochlorhydria, hypoglycemia, immunodepression, increased urination, infectious disease, inflammation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis), insomnia, intestinal bacterial infections, irritability, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Jaundice, joint injury, Kidney stones, leaky gut, loss of appetite, meat maldigestion, memory, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle wasting, muscle weakness, Muscular Dystrophy, nausea, nervousness, Osteoarthritis, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, pain, palpitations, Periodontal Disease, pregnancy, rapid growth, restlessness, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rickets, seizure, shallow breathing, stupor, virility, vomiting, weakness, weight loss due to illness and wound healing

My first real exposure to bone broth was at Mama Sofia’s dinner table.  Mama Sofia is now nearly 100 years old.  Think on that!  She served us up some chicken broth and there was a chicken foot in it.  The broth was absolutely delicious, but I didn’t know how to eat the chicken foot.  My son, only 4 at the time, was also taken aback.  He couldn’t stop staring at it.  My husband’s aunt Caro finally picked up the chicken foot and said that this was her favorite part because she could use the toenails to scratch the top of her mouth.  She was teasing of course.  Once the bone was out of the way, we all tucked in. 

We tend to have either chicken or beef soup at least once a week.  Twice a week when it’s colder.  There isn’t a set recipe.  We use whatever happens to be in season.  The guy who runs a vegetable stand in front of his house always has a small bag of freshly cut vegetables for 12 pesos and then we add whatever else we have at the house.

Today, for example, we made beef soup with 2 kilos of soup bones, 3 garlic cloves, first of the season squash, some carrots, an ear of yellow corn, a bit of cilantro, 2 chayotes, a medium sized onion, a tomato, 6 small potatoes, a hunk of cabbage, a piece of cauliflower, a joconol (yet another type of cactus fruit), a piece of broccoli and a handful of chickpeas, a handful of green beans and salt to taste.  Sometimes we have nothing but potatoes and onions available, so that’s what we use.

Let me tell you, a mugful of broth from this hodgepodge soup is just the thing right before bed.

These middle-class ladies that have “discovered” bone broth might be on to something. That something being real food is better.

This broth will raise the dead–South American saying

Sometimes I wonder why it is I feel more alive here in Mexico.  I still have health problems, life sure ain’t easy, money is ALWAYS an issue.  It could be as simple as there’s no fluoride in the water.  Or perhaps it’s the constant challenge of managing in a culture not my own.  Or just maybe it’s the bone broth.

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Rainy Season Foraging

I’ve already written about how foraging is part of our lifestyle. (See Gleaning) Our animals are taken out of their corrals and allowed free foraging daily.  Recently this mass exodus has not just been limited to the goats, sheep, and horse, but also the chickens, ducks, and rabbits delightedly head out to the tall grass for vittles.

When the Earth provides such abundance, it really is a sin against nature not to harvest its bounty (See Tunas, Pitayas, and Cactus) both man and beast.  Of course, each season brings its own flavors.  This past month, we did some rainy season foraging.

Not edible!

Lots of rain mean lots of mushrooms.  This year was hardly a bumper crop, but we did get a meal or two out of the mushrooms.  I always let my husband harvest these as I’m still a little unsure of choosing the right ones.  Both types of mushrooms that grow in droves during the rainy season look like partially opened umbrellas.  The edible mushrooms are pink underneath.  The poisonous ones are brown or white underneath.

Then there is this plant that my husband called toritos (little bulls).  I’m pretty sure that’s not its name.  The interior of the seed pods before it hardens up is edible. It tastes, well, beany.  Once the pods harden, they darken to an almost black color and two pointy prongs pop out at the end.  My husband and his brothers used these mature seed pods as bulls in their play way back when.

Another edible plant is what my husband calls quesitos (little cheeses) because once peeled it resembles a cheese wheel.  These are bitter in taste.  I’ll pass.

This pretty flower turns into tiny metallic colored berries.  They sort of taste like blueberries.  Apparently, there are several varieties of this plant differentiated by the flower color but all giving the same sort of berry.  Anyone know the name of this plant?

Stopping on our nature hike to take a picture in Los Amoles, I found tomatillo growing wild at my feet.  Tomatillo is used in all sorts of savory Mexican dishes.  It has a tart or tangy flavor to it.

Not edible!

The fruit developing on this plant is not to be eaten, according to my husband, although it bears an uncanny resemblance to a squash.

Verdolaga (purslane) is found year-round.  Cooked up it has the consistency of spinach with a sort of tangy taste.  It’s often used in green salsa.  

This plant is called Chichi de burra (Donkey boobs).  The pods are edible and taste like figs.

The tubular petals from this flower (Klip Dagga) have nectar that can be sucked out making it a favorite of chuparosas (rose suckers otherwise known as hummingbirds) and mariposas (butterflies).  They grow in large bunches under the mesquite tree near our house.  It’s my favorite place to be at the tail end of the rainy season.

This is not an all inclusive list of wild edibles by any means.  Every year, I learn a little bit more about the flora and fauna that surround me.  Where else can I get a glimpse of a mountain lion, a roadrunner, and fox in one day?  Where else do butterflies of every imaginable color and size flutter in clouds?  Where else are daily humdrum activities stopped with the glimpse of a hummingbird? La Yacata remains the place to be for me!

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