In the north west of the beautiful island of La Gomera is a small sleepy village that is home to much of the Canary Island nectar that is the sweet juice, honey, syrup, miel depending what you would like to call it, that comes from the many palm trees in this picturesque valley.
This little village is called Alojera it is well off the beaten track and to drive to it you have to take one of the windiest roads I have even driven but it is so worth the drive and the views of the palm trees for your eyes to see for miles.
In the village is a museum of the palm miel or Palm syrup, which is what they called it now, miel is Spanish for honey but it is now not meant to be called this because the word honey can only been used for products made from bees.
Palm trees have grown naturally on the canary island long before man ever set foot on these islands and the native palm is the phoenix palm or the Canarian palm as it is known to many. In this area there are many Palm groves. A Palm grove is a group of palms growing together and there are female and male palm trees, you can tell it is a female palm from its orange fruit on its large branches.
Now how do you get palm syrup from the tree you ask? A tap is inserted at the top of the tree. To insert the tap you need to remove fronds from the growing heart of the palm tree. It is removed with a chisel tool to make the palm bleed and the sap runs out of the tree. This can be done daily for about six months then the tree is left alone for four years to recover and recuperate.
Once you have the sap from the palm tree you can now make the honey/syrup. The sap is sieved into a pot that had been heated by fire in the older days now it is more common to use gas stoves. The sap is brought to a strong boil. You use a skimmer tool to remove the foam that appears as it boils and a spoon to test the density of the syrup so you know when it has transformed into the delicious syrup. This takes about half a day of boiling to make the syrup.
If you get a chance to go down to the palm museum do go it is small, but packed with information. It also does at different times during the day demonstrations on how the syrup is made today. Palm syrup is rich in minerals that our body needs like copper, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium so make sure you go into the shop and get a jar for yourself to enjoy, you might want to take more than one you will be amazed how many dishes you will use it in.
The palm tree has helped and been part of the life on La Gomera for generations and for this reason the tree is highly valued. No parts of the tree are wasted. The fronds are used for the goats as well at been made into bags, mats and hats. Other parts are feed to pigs and made into kid’s toys.
In La Gomera and the Canary Island the palm syrup has been used on many dishes. It has been used to sweeten the traditional canary product Gofio and commonly used to drizzle over the delicious Canarian goats cheese. It is also used to sweeten many of the canary island baking goods like custards. One of my favorites yet simple dishes are the palm syrup drizzled over eggplant fries. Any Canarian restaurant will be able to advise what dishes to order with the palm syrup, enjoy!
Once you have enjoyed the palm museum I would recommend lunching down near the beach Playa de Alojera in a restaurant called Prisma, a Canarian restaurant. You get some of the freshest fish you have ever eaten and a lovely view of the ocean. It is a beautiful little village and definitely my favorite village of La Gomera although there are a few others coming very close runners up. Alojera is an amazing place, enjoy and relax!