Youth Group Update

During training we have been working with a group of kids from the local school to create, produce, and sell a product. Originally the kids chose batidos (smoothies/milkshakes), but two weeks ago they actually changed their minds and switched to jelly. I’m completely on board with their change. Batidos sound good on paper, but they are more difficult to make, they don’t always taste great, and they are hard to transport and keep cool in order to sell.

The jelly campaign was spearheaded by an eighth grader in the group and his father, who has made tropical fruit jams from local products in the past. The student’s father is American and a very nice guy (his wife, the student’s mother, is a Nicaraguan woman – also a very nice person). So we brought all of the kids over to their house in nearby Diriomo for a day of jelly making.

Max, the family dog of the family where we made the jelly

Max, the family dog of the family where we made the jelly

Given the season, we decided to make two different varieties of jelly from the fruits readily available: starfruit and maméy (I don’t know the English word for maméy, if one even exists). We started by washing all of the fruit and cutting it so that we could put it in the food processor to get pureés. Maméy is basically a big, hard, round, brown ball, so it was pretty hard to peel and cut the flesh away from the big pit in the center. The flesh kind of tastes like and smells like peach though.

Mamey

Maméy

After the fruit is ready you boil it up in a large pot with an equal quantity of its weight in sugar and one cup of fresh lemon juice, stirring regularly. It is pretty easy. Once it boils you take it off the heat, let it cool, and you have jelly.  While the jelly was cooking we sanitized and peeled the labels off over 100 empty small baby food jars that we bought at a street market.

The kids came up with a great idea for the marketing of the jelly. They are calling it Jalea del Trópico. Jalea is Spanish for jelly, and del Trópico is a Rubén Darío poem. Rubén Darío is a very famous Nicaraguan poet and highly revered for his poetry here in Nicaragua. He is pretty much a favorite son of Nicaragua and a national icon. Unfortunately, his poetry is notoriously difficult to read, especially for non-native Spanish speakers.

The kids are also including the first line of the poem on the label of the jelly jars as a logo for our brand:

Qué alegre y fresca la mañanita!”

This sort of creative marketing and our eye catching labels are sure to score us points at the small business competition the kids will be competing at in a few weeks. Once the labels for the jars were designed and ready to go, we cut out some pretty printed fabrics to adorn the jars, and then poured the jelly into the jars. The final product really does look and taste great:

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We are going to sell the jelly for 20 Cordóbas a jar, which is equivalent to $0.80! Our input costs, for the sugar, fruit, and cans were very cheap though, so the kids are going to make great margins if they can clear their inventory. Jelly in the supermarket here goes for around the same price depending on quantity, but all you can get is pineapple or guava and our product is much better quality.

The kids just had midterms before Semana Santa, so all of the parents at the school will be coming around tomorrow to pick up their kids’ report cards. We’re going to set up a booth to sell the jelly right to the parents. We can then go through the community with any leftover product that we don’t sell and try to sell it door to door, or up at the Mirador overlooking Laguna de Apoyo, which is always bustling with people.

The Mirador

The Mirador

Del Trópico, Rubén Darío:

Qué alegre y fresca la mañanita! 
Me agarra el aire por la nariz: 
los perros ladran, un chico grita 
y una muchacha gorda y bonita, 
junto a una piedra, muele maíz. 

Un mozo trae por un sendero 
sus herramientas y su morral: 
otro con caites y sin sombrero 
busca una vaca con su ternero 
para ordeñarla junto al corral. 

Sonriendo a veces a la muchacha, 
que de la piedra pasa al fogón, 
un sabanero de buena facha, 
casi en cuclillas afila el hacha 
sobre una orilla del mollejón. 

Por las colinas la luz se pierde 
bajo el cielo claro y sin fin; 
ahí el ganado las hojas muerde, 
y hay en los tallos del pasto verde, 
escarabajos de oro y carmín. 

Sonando un cuerno corvo y sonoro, 
pasa un vaquero, y a plena luz 
vienen las vacas y un blanco toro, 
con unas manchas color de oro 
por la barriga y en el testuz. 

Y la patrona, bate que bate, 
me regocija con la ilusión 
de una gran taza de chocolate, 
que ha de pasarme por el gaznate 
con la tostada y el requesón.

Also, an idea for an excellent gift for a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua…

IMG_1676

 

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1 Response to Youth Group Update

  1. Pingback: Taste Every Fruit | Incidents of Travel

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