Vendors Part 5: Fruits and Veggies for the Weekend

Around noon on both Fridays and Saturdays this lovely couple comes down our street.  They have a good variety of fruits and vegetables which varies depending upon what they can find in season.

IMG_2987Both on Friday and Saturday they had grapes, strawberries, two varieties of apples, pears, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beets, cauliflower, lemons, peas, mandarina, radishes, red onions, spring onions, broccoli, cilantro, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, tree tomatoes, garlic and green peppers.  Last week they had dragon fruit, two types of grapes, chard just to name a few of their many items.

IMG_2990 IMG_2988 IMG_2989There produce is fresh and of very good quality.

Vendors Part 1 – Gonzalo: Veggies and Fruits At My Gate

Everyday at around noon Gonzalo (on the right in the photo below) and his brother Christian come by the house with their cart filled with great fresh produce.

IMG_2963These guys are great! Gonzalo has four boys with the last just starting preschool a few weeks ago. And mommy is Paola who is also as sweet a person as you will ever find. They tease me about broccoli which is my least favorite vegetable and bring me bunches of fresh acelga (chard) each week. When Joe and I were researching moving to Panama we looked at every picture we could find on the internet that showed the food items that were available.  See the pictures below for close up pictures of what Gonzalo sells.

IMG_2967His produce varies each day but most days you can find potatoes, red onions, scallions, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, mandarin oranges, juice oranges, pineapple, cantaloupe,  other melons in season, watermelon, tree tomato and naranjilla.

IMG_2966Some days he will have both the choclo and the yellow corn along with a green vegetable that they stuff with cheese and bake.

IMG_2965Fresh mora berries, green peas, peanut butter, sal piedra, crushed peanuts, tamarind, garlic, white onions, long beans and green beans. Tomatoes, green peppers and carrots are also available.

IMG_2964Today he had strawberries, fresh red beans, cilantro, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes.  I did see lettuce and white cabbage somewhere in the cart as well.

He also carries raisins, other fruits in season, grapefruit, apples, hot peppers, fresh peanuts, watermelon, yucca, the purple sweet potatoes they call camote, celery and bok choy called nabo here.  And if you do not see what you want, ask and he may even be able to get it for you in the next several days.

I depend upon Gonzalo for most of my fresh fruits and veggies.  His produce is fresh, reasonably priced and he always has a smile on his face.

Viche

What great neighbors we have. This afternoon our neighbor Paola brought us a huge bowl of viche. This batch was made with lobster, shrimp, choclo (corn), small plantain balls and the most wonderful broth made with peanuts. Of course she did provide rice as well.  It is out of this world and Paola is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

IMG_2153We eat like royalty here. Between the kindness of our neighbors like Paola and the bounty we can buy right at our door we are blessed.

We have a new fruta and verdura vendor who has started to come by on Friday mornings. Today he had strawberries, black and red grapes, granny smith apples as well as gala apples and pears, passion fruit, mora, naranjilla just to name a few. He had corn, peas, small and large lima beans as well as fresh fava beans, carrots, red onions, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, two types of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and cilantro.  Next week I will take a photo of his truck and him and his wife.

Feeling very blessed…

Mora Syrup

At least once a week Gonzolo, my veggie guy, has several selections of fruit besides oranges, melons and pineapples. He will have strawberries (frutilla), red grapes (uva), blackberries (mora) as well as the fruits for juice like tree tomato (tomato de arbor), passion fruit (maracuya) and naranjilla (not sure of the English name).

This past week he had mora berries so I bought several cartons and decided to make jam…

Kefir 8.11.2013 001 …well it actually turned out as Mora Syrup…First I just hate using a great deal of sugar in my recipes so normally for making jam you would use one cup sugar to one cup juice/pulp…I just think that is way too much so I use half the amount of sugar. Four cups of juice/pulp and two cups sugar…it has a nice tart flavor with just enough sweetness. But after bringing it to a boil (also, a little trick I learned  – add a dab of butter and it will not foam) lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. When I looked at it after it had cooled a bit it was a too runny for jam (Joe does not think so but I think it would flow off the bread) so it became Mora Syrup…and I am sticking to that story.

San Clemente 8.11.2013 002I made pancakes yesterday morning and we used the new syrup – excellent, fresh, no preservatives just fruit and sugar. And very easy to make. I will say that straining the seeds from the fruit is time-consuming but I did see a food mill while shopping in Guayaquil and that would make the job so much faster…so that is added to my wish list from the states…

Mora Jam

Our vegetable and fruit vendor came by one day last week with fresh mora berries. He is not inexpensive on these items for a small bag it cost $1.50 and I bought two. I processed the berries in the blender and put them through a sieve to come up with several cups of beautiful pulpy juice. As I found out from fellow expat Libby, mora berries have a naturally occurring pectin and pectin is the stuff that allows jelly or jam to thicken to a nice consistency.

I added white sugar, honestly I do not remember the amount as I continued to taste for the right sweetness and then put it on the stove to come to a soft boil and reach a temperature of 220 degrees f which is the jelly stage.

San Clemente 4.4.2013 002

You need to remove any foam that forms and then jar the remaining  in clean sterilized jars.

San Clemente 4.4.2013 003

Once in jars clean any spillage off the rims, secure the lids and put them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. I am reusing jars so even after doing all this I have put them in the refrigerator instead of on the shelf not wanting to have them spoil and we will use them within the next several months.

The flavor is very strong with a hint of tartness that makes for an awesome taste. If you have the opportunity to buy some mora berries try this for yourself it is not hard and the reward is having fresh homemade jam in the house. What a treat!

One Vendor at the Mercado

Joe told me the pictures I took for my mercado story last week were a bit weak! He meant you really could not see the fruits or vegetables to get a good idea of what was for sale. When I went to my favorite young folks for my frutilla fix this morning I decided to take several more pictures.

Here’s an enlarged view of the prices in the previous photo.

These young folks are here every day of the week with fresh fruits and veggies. The young man speaks a few words of English and they are both very helpful.

Playas Mercado

One thing we have found in common at all the mercados here in Ecuador is their hard working vendors. Some entire families from Grandma to the infants come to the mercado seven days a week, working long hours just to make a living.  Today I went looking for shrimp $3.50 lb, albacora tuna $3.50 lb, frutilla (strawberries $1.50 lb) and lemons 30 for $1 which are really a small green lime like a key lime.

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Most of the vendors go out of their way to be so helpful, will try to explain about anything that I am not sure about and will even give me cooking advice when I get that totally lost look on my face. If you want a piece of tuna or marlin you can get as little as a pound, they will clean it by removing the skin or bones and if you are looking for the entire fish they will do the same – filleting it or cutting it into steaks. All you need to do is ask. They do give you all the scraps as folks here use them to make broths and soups.  Currently albacora tuna is $3.50 a pound, nice sized shrimp heads-on about 20 to a pound is the same $3.50 a pound. I have purchased pangora (stone crab claws) for $3.50 to $3.75 a pound as well. Because I did not know how to cook stone crab claws the vendor was happy enough to give me basic cooking instructions.  Most days you can find Dorado (dolphin or mahi mahi), corvina (sea bass), albacora (tuna), marlin and swordfish, camarones (different sizes of shrimp), almejas (clams), mejillones (mussels), cangrejo (live crabs or cleaned crab meat) calamar (squid), octopus (pulpo) plus an array of small whole fish that I do not know the names for. You can purchase yucca or plantain or sweet potato chips fresh for a $1 a large bag. Vegetables range from long beans, to several different varieties of fresh beans, lettuce, fresh herbs, the standards like tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, scallions and I have even found shallots on occasion. Fruits run from the Mora (blackberry good only for juice or jams can’t just pop them in your mouth), several varieties of apples some Ecuadorian grown most others from Chile. Peaches, plums, melons, pears, bananas just to name a few. Then you have the mandarinas, sour-sop, pineapple, guanabana, tree tomato, avocados. There are stalls with fresh killed pigs, cows, chickens and goats, Joe said he even saw duck at one stall but I guess I missed that. There is an herb man that sells different ground herbs, fresh peanut butter with no additives like sugar or salt, he also sells liquid mixtures of different herb combinations used in specific dishes this is as close to the US’s bottled herb mixes as I have seen here.

It is an adventure just visiting the stalls and seeing what is available, we even found cigars some that look like they are homemade for .15 cents each to those that actually look like a fancy store bought cigar for .25 cents each…Joe like to light one of these up once in a while.

This mercado sells nail polish, soap, pots and pans, live plants, hot dogs, herbal remedies, ball caps and so much more it would take me a week to list everything. Suffice it to say this is one of the better mercados because of its variety of goods.