Manioc beer, also known as cauim or chicha, is a traditional beverage made and enjoyed by indigenous people of South America for a millennia. Manioc, which you might know as yucca or cassava, is a shrub that has dense, starchy roots that are consumed as a dietary staple by people around the world. While raw manioc can be toxic, when properly prepared it can be a nutritious, versatile ingredient in a variety of foods and beverages. The ancient chew-and-spit recipe for manioc beer might seem odd to modern home brewers, but it offers the best and most traditional way to make this tasty, exotic drink.
Things You'll Need
- "Sweet" manioc
- Paring knife or vegetable peeler
- Colander or strainer
- Large cooking pot with lid
Peel and slice manioc. Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the manioc roots. Slice the peeled manioc into thin discs or bite-size chunks.
Boil manioc. Place the manioc pieces into a large cooking pot. Add enough water to fill the pot nearly to the top and then bring the water to a boil. Boil until the manioc is tender, which can take an hour or more.
Chew manioc. Remove the water by pouring the manioc into a colander or strainer. Allow the manioc to cool, and then place each piece in your mouth (one at a time), chew it thoroughly and spit it back into the empty cooking pot. This helps to soften the manioc further and allow digestive enzymes in your saliva to begin converting the manioc starches into sugars, which are critical for the fermentation process.
Reheat manioc. After you have chewed and spit all of the manioc back into the pot, add fresh water. Your water level should be about three times as high as the manioc layer. Mix the manioc and water well and then cook at a medium-high heat (a little below boiling), stirring occasionally, for one hour.
Let the manioc ferment. Remove the manioc mixture form the heat and allow it to cool. Place a lid on the cooking pot and store it in a place where it can rest undisturbed for several days.
Enjoy manioc beer. After four to five days, your manioc beer should be adequately fermented. Remove the pot lid, pour yourself a glass and enjoy.
Tips & Warnings
- Chicha, cauim and related traditional beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) can also be made with corn and other ingredients.
- To avoid the manioc sediment that settles at the bottom of the pot during fermentation, you might want to pour your beer through a strainer before drinking it.
- Manioc roots and leaves contain toxic chemicals and should never be eaten raw. Use only "sweet" manioc, which is generally safe once it is thoroughly boiled or cooked.
- If you have food sensitivities or other health concerns, be sure to consult a physician or nutritionist before preparing or consuming manioc or manioc beer.
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