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Coconut Wine Making - How To Make Tuba and Bahalina
How To Make Coconut Wine - A step by step guide to making Coconut Wine in the Philippines
Some coconut farmers in the Philippines not only use coconuts for making Copra (dried coconuts) but also for Coconut Wine making .This is also called Tuba.The process is easy. The one thing that is difficult is the climbing of coconut trees.
In Visayas Islands, Coconut Wine is called Tuba, Bahal or Bahalina. In Luzon it is mostly called Lambanog. The main difference is the mixture and color. Tuba or Lambanog in Luzon is the pure sap (no barok mix) almost colorless or milky white in color sometimes referred to as Coconut Vodka. In Visayas, particularly in Leyte, Tuba is the product of mixing Barok ( a reddish color bark of mangrove tree) with the coconut sap, which in turn make Tuba red in color and sometimes called theCoconut Red Wine.
- Sap - The nectar that comes out when you cut an unopened coconut flower or inflorescence.
- Barok - In Leyte, Barok is the bark of a tree that is reddish-tan in color. According to Wikipedia it comes from a red lauan tan bark tree, a kind of red mangrove tree. In other parts of Visayas they called it Tungog tree, a mangrove believed to be the best bark. Another is Bakhaw , also a mangrove tree. Barok is used for colorant and preservative as it offset fermentation.
- Mananguete or Manananggot - Tuba gatherer, a person who prepares the collection of coconut sap and climbs the coconut tree to collect the sap.
- Sanggot - the knife used by a mananguete to cut the coconut flower.
In Luzon, Tuba is produce without colorant, pure sap, which is usually consumed right after it is collected from the tree because it can go sour easily. They allow some of it to undergo fermentation and distillaton to form a harder drink known as Lambanog. It is often called the poor man's drink because of the inexpensive way of distillation process and is enjoyed by the local farmers after a hard days work. The local people also enjoy lambanog during festive occasions.
In Visayas Islands, particularly in Leyte Island, they call a coconut toddy or coconut wine as Tuba and when it is fermented and distilled for a few months they call it Bahal. Distilled longer for 1 year or more, it becomes Bahalina. Tuba in Leyte is also referred to as a poor man's drink because of its inexpensive distillation process and is a more accessible alcoholic drink that the local people enjoy. This doesn't mean that the Bahalina is a poor quality alcoholic drink because for me it is a high quality, organic alcoholic drink that has no chemicals added, just Barok, a mangrove bark which is known for its medicinal properties and coconut sap that also has high medicinal properties.
Here are the Steps to Coconut Wine Making:
The Preparation and the Collection of Coconut Sap
- The Tuba gatherer cuts and prepares bamboo to make into a container for the coconut sap. It should be about a foot long or a little bit longer to accommodate about 1 liter of liquid. Then he cuts a bigger bamboo section double in length to make another container for the sap to be transferred to. He will carry this bigger bamboo container on his shoulder when he climbs up the tree.
- Then Barok is prepared by chopping it into small pieces and putting them in a small container that he attached to his waist when he climbs the tree.
- The first climb- With his knife or sanggot attached to his waist the tuba gatherer climbs the coconut tree carrying the 1 foot bamboo container and looks for unopened flower. By cutting the tip of the flower it releases a sap. Then he attaches the bamboo container filled with a handful of Barok, to the flower to catch the juice. He secures it properly so it won't fall down.
Note: The quality of Tuba depends on the Tuba gatherer. He who knows how to mix the right amount of Barok to the coconut sap will produce a very good Coconut Wine. Each tree have different amount of liquid produced, if the Tuba gatherer can master the right mixture then he will be known as an excellent Tuba gatherer.
- Every morning, carrying the bigger bamboo on his shoulder, he will go up the tree to collect the juice and clean the bamboo container. One tree can produce a liter of Tuba per day, sometimes more.
- In the afternoon the Mananguete will go up the tree and cut the tip of the flower again and put some Barok into the bamboo container and attached it to the flower, fasten and secure it.
The Fermentation Sedimentation and Decantation Process of Coconut Wine (Tuba)(most folks refer the process as fermentation/distillation)
- In the morning after all the coconut sap is collected, fermentation begins. First, transfer Tuba into a plastic or glass container. A glass container is preferable. No chemical like plastic will do. In olden days gallons made of glass were abundant. So you can see the sediments through glass. Now Tuba will release some bubbles. Leave it in the container until the bubbles subside and while forming sediments for about 3 to 4 days.
Note: You can drink Tuba in this stage or fresh from the tree. It has a kind of rough sweetness taste in it or mapakla .
- After 3 or 4 days when bubbles subsided distillation rather decantation or filtration process begins. In this red coconut wine-making, distillation process isn't use although the term distill is often referred to in this process of sedimentation, decantation and filtration. You will notice that the container has sediment on the bottom about 1 inch thick. Carefully transfer the Tuba to another container by using a small hose, making sure not to move the container so the sediment will stay. After the Tuba is separated from the sediment you can throw the sediments away. Then it will take another 4 to 5 days for the next dacanting.
Note: After every decantation/filtration process, the amount of liquid will become less and less, so it is necessary to have a Tuba reserve in another glass bottle to be used in refilling the main container after the sediment is removed. Make sure the new container is full to the neck so the Tuba will not turn sour. Then cover it tightly.
- After 4 or 5 days, transferring from one container to another, the sediment now is almost gone. At this point you can cover the container very tightly but always make sure it's full. Leave the container alone tightly covered. After a few weeks if you see some sediment you may separate liquid from sediment again. The Tuba that undergoes a long sedimentation process becomes more potent and higher alcohol content. This is called Bahalina. Leave the container for months before you repeat the process if you see a little sediment.
Note: The longer the sedimentation process, the darker red it will become and when you tap the glass container it will make a high pitch echoing sound which means it is now Bahalina. One year old coconut wine is already good, but those that are aged 3 to 5 years or more have much smoother taste. When you tap the glass at this stage, it will produce a much clearer, high pitch echoing sound.
Coconut Wine Making I would say is a good experience, watching Tuba turned into Bahalina in a few years and being able to taste a real Bahalina aged over 3 years. It left me wondering how Bahalina that is aged 5 years or more would taste.