Fruit is a versatile and fundamental piece in healthy eating. In Baixo Guadiana, in spite of a wide range of fruit trees, there are the most distinctive and, in some cases, almost exclusive of the territory. Citrus fruits, such as orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine and clementine, are high on fruit. But it is decidedly the orange with its sweet palate that shines as the "queen of citrus fruit." The fresh fig is emblematic, with fleshy and juicy pulp, protagonist of varied confectionery. From the pomegranate, beneath the firm, brownish, heavy bark, the red-and-pink berries of sweet-and-sour taste are hidden. The néperas, which flourish in every corner, varying between the orange and yellow peel, soft pulp and fine peel, but rich palate. Plum, yellow, red or black, fresh or dried, in the natural, in compote, or for filling dishes and desserts is another typical fruit. Also the traditional table grape with attractive curls, firm flesh, intense color and very sweet berries.
Orange, the queen of citrus fruit
The Algarve is the largest producing region of the country, where we find orange trees in backyards and small vegetable gardens. A combination of elements, such as soil and climate, which translates into a product with a unique taste. The citrus fruits of the Algarve have IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) certification and their production and commercialization extends practically throughout the year, distinguished by its fine, intensely colored and bright bark, and its high juice content, particularly sweet . Its vitamin content stands out for vitamin C, folic acid and provitamin A. Usually the orange is consumed in the natural, or in the form of juices, much appreciated at any time of day. It is also much appreciated in confectionery, ice cream, jams and liqueurs.
The iconic fig
The fig is the fruit of the fig tree native to the Mediterranean region, whose use began in the Stone Age. Its fruits are fleshy and juicy structure and feature a white-yellowish color to purple. This is a high energy product, rich in sugar, fiber, organic acids and minerals like potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
It can be eaten fresh or dried. The table figs are intended for consumption as fresh fruit. The skin is tender, contains few seeds and their maturation is long. Figs drying have a harder and more compact skin and mature faster. Drying figs, although simple, it requires some basic care, such as a location protected outdoor rain and humidity (traditionally on mats on terraces or on the threshing floors, dried in the sun) and fruit picked, ripe and intact bark . Dried figs in prepared rule by hand, are usually sold at fairs and markets. They are usually kept in cane baskets, with fennel, fennel, thyme, among other plants and bedridden so as not to spoil it. Others are roasted with or without almond filling.
Fig is also an indispensable ingredient in the Algarve sweets. The "full fig", the "fig cheese 'or' fig morgado 'are just a few examples of how this result can be used. It is also very common to ts application in "fig and almond stars", cakes, pastries, liqueurs, spirits and also to 'preserve figs. "
Among the cultivars in the territory, traditional products have been reactivated and new ones emerged, which are currently in full development. The fig of India is the case of revaluation of a product called "poor" but now known to have one thousand and one applications.
The Opuntia ficus-indica plant is a species of cato, native to Mexico and South America, popularly called the fig tree, fig tree, which gives the fig fruit of India. This is oval shaped and can be born in different colors: green, yellow, salmon pink, brown or red. Its thick, thorny bark is filled with water and the pulp is soft, gelatinous, juicy and grainy and contains small edible seeds. It was traditionally used to feed the black pig and until recently it was unknown to most citizens, but it has been gaining ground with already ordered orchards, and may have several applications (gastronomy or cosmetics).
Figs are also known as figs, figs and figs, and are usually observable in the wild, hanging from fig trees growing in arid zones. Its handling is delicate because the bark is full of almost invisible spikes. To eat in the natural, cut the two ends of the fruit, make a vertical cut in the bark and remove all the skin around with the help of a cutlery.
With appealing colors and diverse textures, the red fruits win the flavor and countless salutary benefits. In Portugal, and especially in the Algarve, this fruit sector has been growing considerably due to excellent soil and climate conditions.
The most significant productions are those of strawberry and raspberry, with strong implantation in the Algarve. Increasingly frequent in Portuguese homes, their bright colors stimulate our appetite, and hide numerous antioxidant properties, capable of fighting free radicals, which are considered to be the major culprits for the onset of cardiovascular diseases, aging skin and sometimes even cancer. Its high content of vitamin C, effectively stimulates the immune system and protects the body from various pathologies, such as colds and flu. Also vitamin C, helps produce collagen, keeping skin healthy and without wrinkles.
Red berries, whether strawberry or raspberry, have conquered and compete with promising markets and target audiences. Both products begin to gain ground, settling in the menus and having a captive place on the table of many houses, seducing the palate and sprouting salutary benefits.
The arbutus, round, warty berry, with approximately 3 cm of diameter, reddish in color, is the fruit of the arbutus ("Arbutus unedo") and is eatable. The fruit can be harvested between October and December, when the color is red.
Traditionally the arbutus was not cultivated in the region, emerging as "spontaneous shrubby" the parish of Vaqueiros, Alcoutim municipality, which actually had some expression. In recent decades, some farmers in the region have bet on planting and arbutus trees growing in a more orderly manner.
The arbutus is used mainly for the production of spirits, however can also be used for liquors, vinegars, jams and marmalades. It can also be eaten fresh, although this is not the main use.
*Images in Roteiro dos Sabores do Baixo Guadiana 2018