Dulce de mamón is a dish from Paraguay made from papaya and sugar. In a slow process over low heat, the papaya and sugar are reduced into a sweet and syrupy dessert. This dish originated with the Guarani people and is popular in Northern Paraguay, where it is typically eaten after evening meals.
There are slight variations to this recipe depending on the kind of papaya used. Generally, the riper the papaya you are using, the longer it will take to cook down. Several methods can be used to speed up the cooking time and aid in the process of creating the gooey, syrupy texture that this dish is known for.
One of these methods is leaving the papaya covered in sugar for several hours before cooking, which will prompt the fruit to release some of its water, aiding in its reduction.
Traditional Guarani preparation typically calls for semiverdes or “half-green” papayas, although cooking the fruit at this level of ripeness can still take up to 8 hours. For a shorter cooking time, using ripe but firm papayas with black seeds and orange inner flesh is recommended. Make sure to not forget the crucial part of the cooking process: soaking the papaya in baking soda.
The alkalinity in the baking soda helps to break down the chemical bonds holding the fruit together, softening the fruit and helping to shorten cooking time.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Dulce de mamón, which means “papaya in syrup” in Spanish, is not entirely unique to Paraguay. Other Latin American countries have their own papaya-based desserts that are similar to dulce de mamón, sometimes with only slight differences between cooking traditions are additional flavors added. Similar dishes include the duce de mamão verde of Brazil and the Andean dish called dulce de papayeula.
The essential ingredient of this recipe, the papaya, is an important crop throughout Paraguay and with the indigenous tribes who live there. This recipe served as a way to preserve papayas while also sweetening them and making them easy to store with modern canning methods.
It is important to note that this dish can be too sweet for some people. This is why it is popular to curb the sweetness by adding citruses such as lemon, lime, or orange. It is also sometimes eaten with cold milk or cheese.
- Papaya, Green or Semi-ripe - 2 lbs.
- Granulated Sugar - 3-4 cups, to taste
- Baking soda - 1 tbsp
- Water - ½- ¾ Gallon, or as needed
- Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
- Cinammon, stick - 1
- Clove - 1
- Zest from orange, lemon, or lime (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, prepare the fruit. Peel and cut the papaya in half, cutting it into thick wedges after removing the seeds.
- Once the water is at a full boil, completely submerge the cut papaya and boil for 3 minutes.
- Drain the pot and rinse the fruit with cold water, twice.
- In a large pot, fill it with room temperature water, enough to submerge the fruit. Add the baking soda. Stir until baking soda is completely dissolved.
- Add the fruit and let it rest for around 1 hour.
- After 1 hour has passed, drain with a colander and rinse off the baking soda with cold water.
- In a large heavy bottom pot, add sugar and caramelize.
- Set the fruit into the pot and cover it with water, leaving an inch of water above the fruit to ensure full submersion.
- Set the pot to a simmer and cover, leave for 1 hour.
- After an hour, add the cloves, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. If you prefer a citrus flavor, only add the cloves.
- Let simmer for another 1-2 hours and do not stir. Tilt the pan in place of stirring with a spoon.
- Once the liquid has been reduced by half and turned into a syrup texture and amber color, your dish is ready! If you opted for a citrus flavor to curb the sweetness, add the zest as soon as you remove the dish from heat. Serve alone or with cold milk.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 613Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 243mgCarbohydrates: 158gFiber: 2gSugar: 155gProtein: 0g
Photo credit: felicidade