In this episode, we travel about the island to get my hands on a few species of Poix Doux pods and begin the cocktail experimentations with a padoo-vodka infusion. Here are some good to know facts about this wonderful local fruit and followed by a peak of my spankin new signature jinks.
What exactly is Pois Doux?
The broad scientific name is for the plant is Inga and it is a neotropical, nitrogen fixing shrub of the legume family (hence the whole pea thing). There are around 300 species of Inga, mostly found on our side of the world and especially within the amazon region. About 10,000 years ago, the primitive Amerindians began domesticating Inga here for their beans and traditional Pois Doux of Trinidad & Tobago was the typical Savannah and forest edge species, Inga Pilosula (8 pennies). Centuries later, Bert Manhin began his introductions of several other varieties of Inga, and due to the ease of hybridization, the specimens that I would have obtained and experimented with are domesticated varieties that all mixed up though they are nominally in the Inga Feuilii complex.
Inga trees are widely used agriculturally for shade especially over cocoa, coffee, tea and pepper plants. They are also utilized in lumber production for construction and woodworking and for those of us interested in bush remedies, its medicinal properties include wound healing and bronchitis treatment. It is also used in the production of an alcoholic beverage called charichi.
Most people compare the taste of the padoo fruit to vanilla ice-cream hence its popularity as “ice-cream” bean fruit. Where it is native in South American countries like Peru, Ecuador and Columbia the local people love their ice-cream bean and they call it joaquiniquil or cuaniquil. Other Spanish names for it include: guama, guaba, guaba de bejuco and paterna fruit depending on the region.
Unsurprisingly, this ice-cream bean fruit is especially popular among the kids but it can actually be healthy snack alternative if you like the taste of vanilla ice-cream but are weight conscious or concerned about cholesterol levels. Which brings us to…
and Antioxidants (good stuff for those concerned about free radical damage, the effects of ageing or if you’re like me and suffer from crappy immunity)
Leaves, when used regularly, can help to cure headaches and nerve problems and the bark and seeds which are edible after cooking, are used for the treatment of dysentery. Thanks to padoo’s natural anti-inflammatory properties, it can even be helpful for bone health and as a prevention for rheumatism.
Initially, using Bert’s variety, I removed the pulp then soaked it in a 80 proof vodka for a couple of weeks. But I didn’t cover over the pulp by much and I did not shake it everyday so it continued a slow degradation (?) I wouldn’t exactly call it fermentation because at that concentration, most micro organisms would have been killed off. However, I ended up with was seemed to be a boozier, sweet filtrate that really grew on me. The second time around I used two different types of vodka in varying concentrations in order to test out the difference.
When making your infusion, try your best to shake them every so often. After a few days to two weeks you can check to see if you like the taste, which is going to vary depending on how long you leave it. Once you get to the filtering part, you can opt for using a simple cheese cloth (I ended up using a clean j-cloth because that’s all we had in the kitchen at the time) or if you have fancy apparatus you can ultra-filter it for a more transparent end product.
Because of the fruit’s soft flavor, I didn’t want to adulterate it in a cocktail of ingredients that could overpower the experience of Pois doux so instead I exploited the use of a fragrant homemade tincture to enhance the padoo-vodka infusion and served it over ice.
I’ve always wanted to experiment with a beer cocktail and although its a work in progress, you can follow the evolution of the Doux-Doux Darling so far. The idea in mind was to create a cocktail with the full package – flowers, chocolate, alcohol and a personalized note. If a guys asks, “Can I buy you a drink?” this is the one that comes to mind. Or if it’s girls night, boys night, your best friend just updated her Fb status to “engaged” or you ditched the sociopath you realized you were dating… Doux Doux darlings all around!