sao marcos da serra, park

Medronho - Much More Than A Drink

Posted by Marianne Hoesen on Monday, November 11, 2013 Under: nature
                             

These are some Medronho berries. They grow on the Strawberry Tree - Arbutus Unedo - and are mainly used to create the famous Algarvean Aguardente de Mendronho.

The berries have an acquired taste. Maybe that is why it has "Unedo" in its Latin name, which means: eat only 1. The fruit and the pretty little flowers can be see all at the same time, between October and December. It takes a complete year for the berry to develop from flower to ripe fruit. First they are green, then orange/yellow and finally they turn red. The tree - or better the bush - that they grow on is evergreen and can grow up to 10 meters high. It is a member of the Ericaceae family, which makes it a cousin of the heather and bilberry.

Medronho berries have a high pectin content, which makes them very good for preparing jams and preserves. The fruit, as well as the leaves, are being used in folk medicine for ages to treat problems like diarrhoea, arteriosclerose, kidney and bladder infections or liver diseases. The berries have many phytochemicals, including polyphenols, which are thought to reduce cancer risk, coronary heart disease en degenerative diseases. They are also rich in antioxidants such as vitamines C and E and carotenoids.

For treatment of kidney/bladder problems you can try this: 
Boil a liter of water, add 20 grams of leaves and leave them there for 10 minutes. Drink a cup 3 times a day for 3 weeks. You can sweeten the tea with a little honey.

Be careful though and do not eat too many fresh berries (in case you like the taste), because they also contain a lot of tanines wich can give you some problems.

The Portuguese became very skilled in distilling the fruit in late winter, after weeks of fermentation, and create the famous Aguardente de Medronho.  Read more about this in the website on the page "way of life". 

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Tags: medronho  arbutus unedo  strawberry tree 
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