The Cajamarca Region at the foot of the Andes boasts an extraordinary variety of little known edible plants. Fruits from this region vary greatly in color and shape. This great range can be attributed to the wealth of this region’s ecosystems and also to the worldview of the pre-Columbian peoples. According to the Incas, all forms of life—men, animals, vegetables, as well as wind, streams, and land—are intimately connected. Respect for this connection has certainly helped to preserve Andean biodiversity.
From the numerous native species, the Presidium has selected three fruits that are popular fresh and preserved in jams: Tomatillo, Poro Poro, and Pushgay.
The Tomatillo (Physalis peruviana) is also known as Aguaymanto, Poha, or Alkekengi. This round berry resembles a small Chinese lantern with its fine, papery husk that envelops the fruit. When ripe, it is bright yellow-orange in color and boasts a tangy sweetness which is perfect paired with savory dishes. The Tomatillo is also used to make jam, ice-cream, liqueurs, and fermented beverages. The fruit is an excellent source of vitamins (particularly A and C), phosphorus and protein. Its extensive root system serves an important role in protecting hillsides from erosion.
The Poro Poro or Galupa (Passiflora pinnastipula) is a climbing perennial with showy flowers and yellow, oblong fruits packed with small seeds. The flesh of the Poro Poro is like that of an orange, and the fruit has a strong, lingering perfume. Poro Poro is crushed to make refreshing beverages, jams, and sorbets and can also be used to dress salads.
Pushgay (Vaccinium floribundum), also known as Mortiño, grows on wild bushes on the highest, rockiest peaks of Cajamarca and produces fruit similar to European blueberries: small dark blue berries that ripen to a deep blue-black. Pushgay berries are used to make jam, liqueurs, and sorbets and are an excellent accompaniment for lamb.
Currently, the production of Tomatillo and Poro Poro is limited to small family farms, and the Pushgay is collected from wild fruit trees at high altitudes. The technique of producing Tomatillo and Poro Poro is sustainable and does not involve the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
The Presidium aims to improve the quality of processed products and design packaging with training given locally. Work will be carried out to define rules for cultivating the fruit and producing jams, juices, and other products. In the case of the Pushgay, the goal is to identify a variety of the plant that is suitable for selection and cultivation with a view to farming the fruit.
Cajamarca Department, Province of San Marcos
Asociación Nacional de Productores Ecológicos
Napoleon Machuca Vilchez
tel. +51 981676572