Marula trees are medium to large-sized trees (9 – 18 m tall), they are wide spread in Africa reaching from Ethiopia in the north to Kwa Zulu-Natal in the South, Africa. The tree has many medicinal uses and has been known to treat various digestive issues, the leaves can be chewed to alleviate heartburn and the bark has a prophylactic effect against malaria.
The plum sized fruit has been used as a food source since ancient times throughout Africa, and is regarded as a sacred tree in many groups. The fruit provides sustenance to a variety of animals other than humans, including: elephants, antelope, monkeys, giraffe, zebra, baboons, as well as many others that graze on the leaves. Only the female trees bear fruit and drop around 500 kg’s of marula fruit per year, there is a marula tree in Pretoria that consistently drops 1000 kg’s of fruit each year. The fruit ripens between December and March and has a bright yellow skin and a white fleshy middle with a hard stone in the center. The fruit is extremely high in vitamin C, having 4 to 8 times more vitamin C than an orange.
Marula and alcohol have become synonymous with one another in Africa. Videos of drunken animals like elephants, baboons and giraffe stumbling around after eating fermented marula fruit is a crowd favorite (unfortunately untrue). Amarula liqueur which is made from locally acquired marula fruit is a South African gem that has clientele from all over the world. Marulas can be made into a traditional beer also known as Mukumbi to the Venda people, this beer has been used in ceremonies for centuries but has recently been a large source of income for unemployed woman in the Limpopo province of South Africa, where you can see them selling it on the side of the road.
The Nitty Gritty Nomads not being individuals to miss an opportunity to indulge in African culture decided to make our own batch of marula beer.
Beer making steps!
Once you have collected the fruit from the ground under a marula tree or three and rinsed/washed the fruit. To succeed you will need:
- Marulas (lots)
- two or three buckets (one with a seal-able lid)
- a knife
- 2 spatulas
- 1 cup of sugar (optional)
- potato shhmasher
Cut the marulas along the equator of the fruit, twist and squeeze the pip, flesh and juice out of the skin.
Continue to do this with all of the marulas, you can throw ones that have already fermented away (your choice).
Once you have finished peeling the fruit, add water (enough to cover the fruit) and begin mashing the fruit with a potato masher to remove some of the flesh and the juice from the stone in the center.
When you are confident you have mashed the fruit enough squeeze the fruit a few at a time just to collect as much of the liquid as you can (like the guy below).
Once all this is done, the traditional beer making process is now complete, additionally you can add a cup of sugar to +/- 2 liters of liquid to assist with the fermentation process and sweeten up the beer slightly.
Now you have the product of your extensive efforts. Time to seal the beer, put the lid on the bucket and wait between 2 and 4 days. Remember to release the pressure once a day by opening the lid (to avoid explosions). After 4 days there should be a thick head of foam that smells a bit like vinegar.
Remove the foam using a spatula, spatulas or sieve. The below liquid should not smell vinegary. It tastes fresh, yeasty and bubbly, with an almost pineapple twist.
Bottle or jar the remaining product and dispose of the foam.
Store in a cool place for a few days, after which you have a lovely golden elixir that tastes a bit like ginger beer with a pineapple/marula twist.
Drink this beer and feel as content and pleased as this guy.
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