The alkekengi these are fruits, more like gods berriesof a perennial plant belonging to the tomato family and potatoes.
Its origin as well as its first provenance are not clear, for years we wondered if it belonged to European territories, to those of South America or forEast. However, its nutritional properties and characteristics are well known wherever it is found. The alkekengi are known to contain a large amount of Vitamin C and have beneficial effects on the whole organism.
It has diuretic, anti-inflammatory and purifying properties.
The Alkekengi plant it is also used for ornamental purposes in homes and gardens as it is decorated seasonally, when fruits come out. These are literally wrapped in a very thin envelope as if to contain something precious inside them. The case is shaped like a lantern. The bay instead has an intense orange color, which can range from red to green, is small, not very juicy and low in sugar. The taste appears slightly acidic and fleshy, the flavor is remotely reminiscent of the acidity of berries.
The alkekenge culture it is quite widespread even if the greatest number of plants grows spontaneously. The Italian territory is very rich with the exception of Puglia And Calabria where in nature it would seem absent. It does not require special care and adapts equally well to the plains and to the mountains. The the wild plant grows among the fields, near low walls, it prefers humid climates and calcareous soils and is even resistant to low temperatures. In nature, as well as cultivated ones, they propagate and spread thanks to the seeds contained in the fruits of alkekengi. The term which is used today to designate them would first derive from Arabic then from around 1300 Old French. And that means lantern.
L’alkekengi comes naturally after full flowering. THE flowers they are small, white and star-shaped. The period of maximum splendor is summer, in the months of July and August. The fruit, as expected, is wrapped in an outer membrane that envelops it in a hug. Maturation follows its natural cycle, which is found in the chromatic variations. Immature it appears greenish yellow then turns orange and finally red. Smooth and shiny on the outside, it is full of small edible seeds inside. Of alkekengi there are so many varieties, each with a specific shape. The fruits are generally harvested, depending on the climatic zones, at the end of August and throughout the month of September. But it is not difficult to find them imported from milder and more temperate climates.
Before consuming the alkekengi it is good to first understand if the fruit has reached the right degree of ripeness. Locating it is quite simple but you have to small precautions. The berry or berries should be firm, smooth and evenly colored; an indicative factor is the membrane that covers them, sold with the fruit which must appear transparent and crumbly to the touch.
The recipes for using it are really numerous, in addition to its high content of pectinlike apples and citrus fruits, it lends itself very well to the preparation of jams, perfect to accompany cheeses, given the contrast in flavor. But it is also widely used as wedges in salads, main dishes of meat and fish, as well as in the preparation of colorful fruit salads or to decorate and accompany. desserts and ice cream of all types. But it does not stop there because the alkekengi they can be candied, dried or pickled and eaten as needed. These preservation practices allow the fruits to last longer, given their sensitivity to the home environment. To best store them in the refrigerator, it is best to remove the outer “lantern” and wrap them in a damp cloth.
Alkekengi with chocolate
One of alkekengi recipes is to immerse them in dark chocolate. This dessert is specially prepared in Lombardy. It tends to spruce up tables during Christmas time. But it’s always good. The preparation of these sweets, with a unique and unusual taste, it is very quick and very simple to test even the least experienced cooks. The one and only precaution is to keep its outer envelope intact for a much more scenic presentation. Indeed, the wrapper must be placed upwards in order to have a better grip during the immersion in the chocolate and when the guests take it out of the plate.
120 g of dark chocolate
Only two ingredients for guaranteed success. Start the preparation by placing the chocolate in a bain-marie, wait until it is completely melted. Meanwhile, take parchment paper and line a mold. When the chocolate is ready, it’s time to dip the alkekengi. A suggestion could be not to cover them completely, in order to obtain a two-colored sphere. At this point, they are placed on the parchment paper and left to cool.