Lately on the farm: Guamúchil

Have you noticed a fairly large, thorny and rather scraggly looking tree near the middle of our field? It´s a Pithecellobium dulce (better known by locals as Guamúchil). The colloquial name is pronounced: gwa-MU-cheel. 11016470_10153478748341549_487099515_n

So, why do we mention the tree just now? Well, because this native Mexican plant produces fruit that is harvested for only a few short weeks each year and that time is now.

The tree is loaded with knobby, green-pink legumes. Once they are mature, they split, exposing a pink, pulpy flesh inside that encases black shiny beans. Is the fruit edible you ask? It is! Although don´t be deceived by the “dulce” in Pithecellobium dulce; the flesh tastes bitterer than it does sweet and locals often add sugar before eating.11007499_10153478748306549_1105978734_n

Guamúchil is an acquired taste; the texture is similar to that of a dry coconut and the flavour is mild, slightly floral. When eaten raw, the fruit is removed from the pod and the bean discarded. Raw isn’t the only way locals enjoy this colourful snack, the pulp can also be roasted or prepared in a sweet drink similar to lemonade.  Carlos has a great family recipe that he might be willing to share if you ask!10994766_10153478748396549_371801171_n

We love having this tree on the farm. It does more than provide us a snack for a few weeks every year; it is also a good forage plant for honey bees and has many medicinal uses.  If you would like to learn more about this fascinating tree, this is an excellent article written by John Parrotta, research scientist for the USDA Forest Service:

http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/pubs/sm_iitf040%20%20(5).pdf

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