Today I would like to tell you all about the Medronho tree, which is a small fruit tree full of berries from which Aguardente de Medronho, or fruit brandy is made. It is better known as The Strawberry Tree "Arbutus unedo". Medronho is a strong spirit, and a traditional fruit brandy from Portugal. They grow wild on the property, and the locals like to start their day with a shot, and it is commonly drank alongside a "bica" a shot of coffee after lunch or dinner.
Wednesday 5 October 2022
They don't look like strawberries at all.
As I said, Medronho can be used to make Aguardente (firewater). "Água ardente" literally means "burning water" in Portuguese, which is exactly what it does, with its high alcohol percentage which is around (50%) it is very strong and tends to burn your throat as it goes down. It is the local brandy of Algarve but is also drank in the north. My farm workers will drink this in the morning to start their day, on cold winter mornings when it helps to warm the body and if the sweet brandy is mixed with honey, it is said it helps to cure colds and flu, even to ward off other infections. For centuries the art of distilling has been passed on from father to son and is considered as a natural heritage of old cultural wisdom that is kept alive, usually in the country. Hospitality is synonymous with this very popular drink and you may well be offered a little glass of Medronho if you are in a cafe or restaurant so take a shot of Medronho when in Portugal and enjoy.