Winter is not a season when we immediately think of fruits. Not as much as in summer at least when it is hot and the body asks for something fresh and light. However, from November to March, in Spain we have at our disposal a good variety of winter fruits that will help us to fight colds and feel more energetic.
Discover the WabiHost fruit selection below to follow a Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest in the world. And if you visit Madrid, do not forget to ask us for help.
Although November is not yet technically winter, the body already begins to ask for comforting food. Since the beginning of autumn we already have delicious pears and apples (Reineta and Granny Smith in December) that are easy to obtain since they are grown in our territory. They are also quite cheap because they do not need to travel long distances to reach our tables. Besides, they are healthy simply because they in season. Let us not forget how versatile they are! In Europe we use them to make compotes, jams and sauces for meats as well as for cakes and pies. They go super well with those warm flavours like cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate and nuts.
After All Saints’ Day in Spain, chestnuts become really popular. These are usually roasted, peeled and eaten warm in the street. They are excellent to fill you up. They can also be used to create rich hot creams, sauces, fillings, desserts and puree that go well with poultry and pork. Walking through Madrid in these cold months is much more pleasant with a cone of hot chestnuts to warm our hands.
Grapes that are normally harvested in autumn can be easily obtained in early winter. Usually these grapes are sweeter than the autumn ones because they are allowed to mature longer in the plant, thus creating more sugar. Such grapes are used to make sweet wine, ideal for the after-dinner – another tradition of Spain. The Mistela for example is a very sweet and common wine / liqueur from Valencia but you can find it in Madrid if you know where to look. If this option tempts you, WabiHost can take you to know these tasty traditional liqueurs.
A delicious and healthy fruit that begins to appear in September and can be harvested normally until well into December is the pomegranate. This autumn / winter fruit has always been highly appreciated since antiquity for its sweetness and acid touch that pleases and refreshes. Although they are difficult to peel, the truth is that they are becoming fashionable again thanks to its attractive deep red color and its unique flavour. They go well in salads and desserts. You can also make a delicious juice with them that you can drink fresh or reduced with a little sugar and lemon. This creates a thick syrup with a very intense color to sweeten drinks, dressings or create sauces for game, poultry and pork. My suggestion: duck with pomegranate, a great delicacy.
I am lucky to have access to an exclusive and organic crop of pomegranates from the beautiful province of Córdoba. So I have experimented and collected countless original recipes, among some older ones, that use this delicious fruit as a key ingredient.
The truth is that dates (as well as apples, pears and bananas) can be found today in Spain throughout the year, but traditionally it is a typical fruit of the months of November and December. There are many houses in which this fruit is used to complete the Christmas trays and make desserts with a strong influence from the other side of the strait with almonds, walnuts and cinnamon. You can also eat them with yogurt and oatmeal for a healthy and energy-leaded breakfast since they are rich in natural sugars and dietary fiber. Very few know that there are actually several types of dates, all with somewhat different characteristics.
The cherimoya is a tropical fruit not very difficult to find, especially in Malaga and Granada in Spain from where one of its varieties is native but rarely consumed at home today. It is already available at the end of autumn until February and is internationally appreciated for its medicinal properties.
The most representative winter fruits of this season are citrus fruits. And rightly so because its rich supply of Vitamin C helps us to prevent colds and other very common ailments when the defences go down. We are familiar with several examples: mandarins, oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit. The latter are ideal for those who are on a diet after the Christmas’ feasts as they stimulate the metabolism. All these fruits are excellent for making cakes and biscuits, sauces and to season salads…or just to drink as juice in the morning. They can also give an acid touch to broths, soups and stir-fries.
These acidic fruits are popular not only because they are healthy but also because of their low cost and versatility. They also tend to last long. In fact, sailors used to carry loads of lemons in their long voyages overseas to avoid scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. It is rare for a market not to have these winter fruits in their posts, so there is no excuse not to give them a place in our kitchen during these cold months. There are many people who do not know what to do with them other than juice which is a pity. I have my own compendium of recipes and ideas that I share with my guests and they always end up happy.
Sometimes when I go to buy my fruit at the market the seller gives me a tangerine as a snack during my walks. It is the best thing about buying regularly in the same stalls.
The exotic winter fruits
There are some winter fruits that have become very popular in recent years. Such is the case of the mango that begins its season in autumn but you can get easily in December. This can be used for healthy and sweet smoothies, drinks (something less healthy in reality), desserts and meat accompaniments if you like bittersweet dishes.
Another fruit perhaps a little less known but equally exotic is the persimmon. This fruit, native to Asia but grows very well in Spain. There are mainly two varieties, one more astringent and the other sweeter. It is rich in vitamin A and C in addition to potassium, iron and magnesium. Although it may also appear in autumn, it is usually collected in December and January as well.
Many people dislike this fruit for its astringency, but few know that it can mature naturally at home. You just need a strong liqueur like brandy or cognac and a clean hermetic container. Rubbing the fruits with a little of any of those alcoholic beverages and leaving them for a week or two in a closed container, these fruits lose their astringency. They become pulpy, sweet and soft. Ideal to eat as a dessert or at breakfast. This is a trick that I learned from my beautiful mother-in-law and one of the many I share with my visitors.
The truth is that although sometimes we feel more like having chocolate than a fruit salad in these cold months, we cannot underestimate their importance in our diet. Many times it is not just a matter of taste, but also of knowing what we have available this season and how we can consume it. For that, a regular visit to our markets is essential. In them we can find seasonal products that besides being rich and more economical, help us maintain a varied diet rich in colour and flavour.
We cannot forget that in the market stalls we have friendly people who will help us make the best decisions when buying and preparing our food. I’m talking about sellers in traditional markets who know their own products very well. They will be happy to share their knowledge with us. Whenever I visit them I go with something priceless as one or two new ideas for some delicious dishes. Those are the gems that one takes when connecting with the local culture.
WabiHost works to create a bridge between visitors and locals. If you want to be part of this, visit Madrid with us and you will feel at home.