Prep Time: 30 minutes
Deep in the mountains of the lush and tropical Philippines is a tree that glows radiant red in July. The birds come and have a fiesta of their own, happily plucking the distinctly sweet and sour bignay berry. At first, I was hesitant to partake of these berries. I've always said that the birds should have their own feast. My children are particularly fond of a blue bird that we see along with the ever omnipresent Maya.
But upon the prodding of some children to have some, I've decided to try it. For me one of the most scintillating experiences that one could have in this life is to taste a fruit straight from Mother Earth's blossom and to taste it for the first time. So I climbed the tree and lopped off several branches. It rained red berries and when I came down, I felt a little guilty for I have stepped on some of them.
I promptly brought the branches to the nearest cement surface and picked the berries with my kids. It took us about 30 minutes to get 3 kilos of these berries, there were about a thousand of them.
We put them inside a green container and washed the berries two times to remove the ants who also seem to be enjoying themselves.
After washing we then put them in our fruit and vegetable juicer where the Bignay's essence flowed. The aroma reminds one of grapes, but only more potent and stronger. I've heard somewhere that these Bignay were in fact being turned into wine. I wanted to try and turn them into Bignay jam, something that I have not seen or tasted before but the sheer size of the seeds makes the process more tedious.
Once the thick purplish-crimson juice went out, we then mixed it with water. 60% water, 40% bignay juice. We then added honey and sugar to taste.
Tasting it was a semi spiritual moment for me. Though there have been claims that the bignay holds some medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties, I paid no heed to these and just appreciated it for what it was.
It was really something unique and something that I would definitely like to try again next July.