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Stories From Kiribati

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How to make coconut wine

Posted by Amota Eromanga on July 22, 2013 at 5:50 AM

Coconut wine is actually fermented liquor that could only be obtained from the juice of the coconut flowers. The juice is specifically called toddy. Fresh toddy is sweet and tasty before it is turned into wine. Once it has become wine, then it tastes sour much like any other alcoholic drinks. 

We will now discuss two methods of making coconut wine our Kiribati wine makers usually carry out!

Method One

Things needed:

i. toddy (juice)

ii. container (bottle, jug, bucket)

How

This method is simple and fast. All there is to do is to pour fresh toddy into any container, a bottle or a jug, and then leave it for up to three days. Cover your container (but don’t close it so gases escape) from dirt and insects and keep it away from the children and/or wine stealers. After three days, you may serve it as it has become perfect wine and is ready for either selling or drinking. Just remove the bubbles that may have been formed on the surface. Enjoy your party but don’t let the wine control you -)

Easy, huh? No additional ingredients - just pure juice that ferments into wine. The longer (more days) you leave toddy to ferment, the stronger the wine becomes.

Method Two

Things needed:

i. toddy tree

ii. toddy knife

iii. toddy containers (coconut shells)

How

This second method is believed to be, not just popular, but most favored and enjoyed by toddy cutters. Unlike method one, the process is carried out at the top of the coconut tree. Men climb up to the top of their toddy tree and there they begin collecting and making wine.

Men usually use their toddy shells as their wine containers. They have to choose the biggest toddy shells if they want to collect plenty of wine. Others have been using plastic bottles (2 liters) as they are indeed bigger than normal toddy containers made from coconut shells.

Instead of bringing down fresh toddy from the tree, the cutter has to let toddy ferment while it still hanging on the spathe or flower bag - up in the tree. All he has to do is just cut the spathe without taking toddy down. After days of hanging on the spathe, toddy will gradually turn into wine. But if the wine maker wants to speed up fermentation, then he needs not to replace or clean the leaves (mamata as locally called) used for draining toddy from the spathe into the shells. In at least three to four days time, the toddy should have turned into wine. Others put one or two white coconut leaves or ‘kakoko’ inside the container to help speed up fermentation process. It is important that the container being used in the process should remain hanging up there on the spathe and it is best not to clean or replace it with a new one. Wine can be taken down or drank up there, but be sure to leave that container remain hanging on the spathe. This is so because through time, sediment starts to form at the bottom of the container. The sediment will quickly turn dripping fresh toddy into wine. The more sediment collected at the bottom of the container, the faster the process and stronger the wine becomes ……. Some containers can stay up there on the tree for several months without being cleaned nor brought down. Such containers produce better and stronger wine than newly used containers.

Wine made of this method has been known to be the best, most tasteful and smells lovely. Another known good point about it is that toddy cutters can have a drink of the wine any time of the day for the toddy takes very short time to ferment. Lazy cutters will become active in climbing up and down their toddy trees as they know it’s rewarding – wine is waiting for them up in their toddy trees!

That’s it! The two methods have been discussed and hope you have at least gained something out of them. For further information you may need, please ask in the comments.

Categories: Culture & Custom

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