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Mexican holiday punch: Ponche navideño by Karen Hursh Graber © 2004

Tecocote fruit and sugar cane are key ingredients for Mexico's traditional Christmas ponche.
© Daniel Wheeler, 2009
Tejocote fruit and sugar cane
© Daniel Wheeler, 2009

In addition to being served in Mexican homes during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, hot Mexican holiday punch, or ponche navideño is sold at night by street vendors who ladle it out from steaming cylindrical vats. The tejocote is a small fruit, golden in color when mature, similar in taste to an apple, but with a pastier texture. It is not easily found outside of Mexico, but apples make a good substitute. In Michoacan, a piece of beet is often added instead of jamaica to color the punch.


  • ¾ pound small apples or tejocotes, peeled and sliced
  • 10 guavas, halved
  • ½ pound raisins or prunes or a mixture of both
  • 6 oranges, scrubbed and sliced with rind
  • 1 cup jamaica (dried hibiscus) flowers
  • 4 pieces sugar cane stalk, peeled and cut into strips (see note)
  • 3 sticks cinnamon, each about 6 inches long
  • 7 quarts water
  • sugar to taste (the usual proportion is 1/3 cup to each quart of water)
  • brandy, rum or wine to taste (optional)

Place the apples, guavas, raisins or prunes, oranges, sugar cane and cinnamon in a large stockpot with the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add sugar to taste, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. If adding brandy or other alcohol, add and simmer a few minutes longer. Serve hot in mugs. Serves 16-18.

Note: If sugar cane is unavailable, increase the amount of sugar added.


Link to source articles
Fragrant, festive Mexican guavas: For Christmas punch and other delights
Mexican Christmas menu ideas: Posadas, Noche Buena, Navidad
Cinnamon: Mexican cooks use the real thing
A Mexican Christmas dinner: Tamales, turkey, tejocotes


Published or Updated on: December 1, 2004 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2004
Contact Karen Hursh Graber

Follow Karen as she travels through the Central Mexican state of Puebla, meeting local cooks, tasting the food, and collecting recipes. With over 75 recipes, plus sections on ingredients and cooking techniques, the book takes the reader on a journey through one of Mexico's oldest and most renowned culinary regions. It can be ordered online.

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