Nances (Yellow Cherries) are one of those polarizing fruits – if you grew up eating it, there’s nothing better in the world than gorging on them. If you’ve never tasted it before, you might be wondering what the fawning in Guatemala for nance is all about. If you’ve never had it before, you might just spit it out as soon as you bite into it. Don’t be fooled by the name – nances taste nothing like cherries.
My wife and the rest of her family – all Guatemalans – love nance. Personally, I find nance tolerable when I consume it raw – it has a robust flavor and texture that is unlike any other fruit I’ve tasted before. But hey, the good news is that it’s not the only way to eat nance – more on that later. First, a little background on what I consider to be a pretty looking fruit.
Origins of Nance
Nance, its scientific name is Byrsonima crassifolia, is found abundantly in the wild throughout southern Mexico, Caribbean, Central, and South America. It grows in very limited quantities in South Florida, where it was first introduced via Panama. It seems as if every country has a name for this fruit – it’s known as Changugu, Nantzin, Chi, Nancen, Craboo, Doncela, Maricao, Paralejo, Tapal, Chaparro, Hori, and Sabana Mango. Even in Guatemala, nances are known by different names, as given by locals – it’s known as Chi in the Q’eqchi’ language and as Tapal in Kaqchikel. Ancient Mayas knew the fruit, as it was mentioned in their sacred mythology text, the Popol Vuh.
Nances are gorgeous
Nances tend to come in two varieties – sweet and tart, each depending on the soil they’re grown in. It retains its distinctive smell even after it’s prepared.
In Guatemala, nance season runs almost parallel with the rainy season. You can easily find it at the Mercado from April to July.
At the height of nance season, I was able to purchase them at 3Q a pound – I did not attempt to bargain.
Uses for Nance
Aside from nance fruit, in Antigua, you’ll find it as refresco (non-alcoholic beverage), sorbet, ice cream, and in candied form. It’s also prepared as a fermented alcoholic drink known as “guaro de nance,” popular in the western part of the country.
Preparing nance as a beverage is fairly simple. Just crush it to remove the pits, just like you would do with cherries – here’s a quick way to do it. Once your nances are pitted, just throw them into a blender, add a bit of water, ice, and you’ll have fresh nance drink.
As an alternative, you can add milk and ice – my preferred method, to get a creamier result. You can add a bit of sugar if you’d like, but this will depend on the sweetness of the nances you’ve used. Freeze it once mixed for an interesting treat.
Homemade nance ice cream
And that’s it! Give nances a try – they might just end up being one of your favorites.
Do you like nances?
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