In the northern part of the Philippines, coconut wine or tuba is referred to as Lambanog. It is made of pure sap (no bark mixed), milky white in color or almost colorless. It is usually consumed fresh as it easily turns sour. Some are distilled to make a harder and more potent alcoholic drink. In Visayas Islands, particularly in Leyte, tuba or coconut wine is made of coconut sap mixed with Barok (The bark of a red mangrove tree, and according to Wikipedia a red lauan tan bark tree) which serves as colorant and preservative that offset fermentation.
The step by step guide to making coconut wine or tuba wine:
- The tuba gatherer prepared bamboo containers. One kind of container serves as a receptacle, and the other kind is for the coconut sap to transfer to.
- The Barok is chopped into fine pieces and put it in a container that he can bring up the tree.
- The tuba gatherer climbs up the tree the first time and look for an unopened flower. He puts a handful of Barok into the bamboo receptacle, cuts the tip of the flower and attached the container to the flower and then ties it securely so it won’t fall down.
- Morning collection- The tuba gatherer climbs the tree carrying the bigger container on his shoulder. Then he untie the flower, transfer the juice to the bigger container and cleans the receptacle before attaching it back to the flower. Sometimes bees get into the container so he has to clean it first. One tree produces one liter of sap or more.
- In the afternoon, the tuba gatherer climb up the coconut tree again to cut the tip of the flower and put Barok into the receptacle before attaching it back to the flower, making it ready for the morning collection.
Fermentation and Distillation:
- After the coconut wine has been collected it is put in a container, preferably glass. Do not cover the container. Coconut wine is going to release some bubbles. Allow the bubbles to flow. Leave the container for about 3 to 4 days until the bubbles subside and sediment is thick.
- When the bubbles subside after the 3 or 4 days time, it is time to distill it. By using a small hose, transfer the wine to another glass container, leaving the sediment behind. Make sure not to move or shake the container so the sediment will stay intact. You can throw the sediment away. Always keep an extra wine reserved in another bottle to be used in refilling the main container, as you can see the wine will become less and less every time you remove the sediment. This will take another 5 days. You may cover the container at this point.
- After 5 days, you will see that the sediment is mostly gone. You may transfer it to another container one more time and fill it up to the neck and cover it tightly this time. After a few weeks, if you see some sediment, you may repeat the process. And after that you can leave the container alone for months, full and tightly covered. Just be sure to check for sediment once in a while.
Coconut wine that is distilled for less than a year is called Bahal. When it is distilled for one year or more, it is called Bahalina. The longer it is aged, the finer and mellower the taste is. A high pitch echoing ring when you tap the glass is a sign that the coconut wine is now mature or Bahalina.
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