What types of fruits can flourish in the San Pablo region?
After discussing with both Miguel and Wendy, we have discovered that one food group really lacking in the diet of the people of San Pablo is fruits. Wendy mentioned to us that there is a desire for increased fruit production within their community. Seeing how San Pablo produces almost all the food that they consume, we have taken initiative to learn more about fruits that can grow in mountainous regions successfully. One advantage that San Pablo has is available green houses and an existing knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices. We would like to see fruit grown in the communal garden of San Pablo. Even with the short summers, high tunnels and Plant growth regulators like
ethylene, along with proper varieties will help overcome ripening and yield problem.
- European plum – grows well at high altitudes
- Cherries – both sweet and sour cherry trees strive in high altitudes with low temperatures
- Apples & Pears – most commercial species of apples and pears can be grown in higher elevations
- Berries (Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries) – growing berries are typically more successful at high altitudes
If implemented, we would hope to see maintaining the communal garden as part of the student apprenticeship program. This would help kids learn more about sustainable agriculture while producing fruits for consumption.
Increasing fruit consumption amongst children in San Pablo will take more than just availability of fruit, it will also involve education. We developed this simple flyer as an example of a possible educational piece to accompany the increased fruit availability.
Fruit Leather Project:
We hope that the “fruit leather project” will be valuable to the community of Guateca for several reasons. Our main intention behind introducing fruit leather to San Pablo is to provide a replacement of candy for the children. There appears to be an over consumption of candy among the children. This leads to dental caries and premature loss of baby teeth, which ultimately compromises adult teeth as well. The fruit leather is a healthy alternative to candy; it is sweet like candy but has the benefit of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in fruit. Secondary benefits to this project include preservation of fruit to consume during colder months and warming of homes during production. The growing season in San Pablo is short due to the cool climate. Fruit leather is a way of preserving the harvest when it is in abundance for consumption during the colder months. Fruit leather production requires a heat source. Racks above the wood burning stoves in homes may provide the space for fruit leather to dry while both using an existing heat source and perhaps providing a reason for extended use of the stove. This will help to warm up the houses in the Guateca community so they will not be as cold in the evenings.
One recipe for fruit leather:
- Peel, core, and chop fruit. Taste the fruit and note its sweetness. If it’s a little tart, you may add some sugar in the next step.
- Place fruit in a large saucepan. For every 4 cups of chopped fruit, add a half a cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir.
- Mash up the fruit in the pan. Taste and deter what and how much sugar, lemon juice, or spices to add.
- Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened. This should take 5 to 10 minutes.
- Put the purée through a food processor or a food mill (this may have to be altered) and taste again to adjust sugar/lemon/spices as needed. The purée should be very smooth.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and pour in the mixture about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
- Place baking sheet in oven heated 140 degrees overnight, or about 8-12 hours. You will know the fruit leather is ready when it isn’t sticky, but has a smooth surface.
This recipe would obviously need to be modified to meet the available technology and equipment in San Pablo. Hand cranked food mills are an available option for pureeing the fruit.
|Gaby and Kelsey washing and chopping fruit|
|Gathering scraps for compost|
|Lemon juice and sugar help preserve the fruit leather|
|Finished fruit puree, ready for the oven|