A Colonial Description of Making Green Plantain Cider

Samuel Baker loved to talk about local food processing techniques in his mid-19th Century African travel documentaries, which is fortunate for those of us trying to trace foods and their processing prior to modern times in Africa.

Here is what Sir Baker has to say about making a cider from green plantains, a method that can still be found today here in Burundi:

Burundi 'cider' production

The  method of cider-making was simple.

The fruit was buried in a  deep hole and covered with straw and earth;–at the  expiration of about eight days the green plantains thus  interred had become ripe;

–they were then peeled and  pulped within a large wooden trough resembling a canoe  (see my picture above, of a modern production – Diana);

–this was filled with water, and the pulp being well mashed  and stirred, it was left to ferment for two days, after which  time it was fit to drink.

(Diana says – the longer you leave it, the stronger it gets!! 🙂

Source:  Sir Samuel W. Baker, Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society, The Albert N’Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile And Explorations of the Nile Sources.

About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
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8 Responses to A Colonial Description of Making Green Plantain Cider

  1. Diane says:

    Diana – have you come across any reference to a ‘bread-beer’ made not from millet-bread, but flour obtained from Ensete? From the model of plantain, banana, and such things as sorghum or millet-bread beer, it seems likely especially in Ethiopia. At present I can only infer.


    • dianabuja says:

      No, I have not – but let me look about a bit in some of my records. Though, you’ve given me the idea to do a blog about Ensete – a tradition, indigenous ‘crop’ whose leaves produce a paste once fermented that can serve as a hunger food.


      • dianabuja says:

        ok – this is what I was looking for amongst my stuff; I think it was self-published, though it looks as if it could be an MA thesis – it’s one of those little jems that gets lost in the shuffle; filled with interesting material:

        “Beer made from flowering stem of ensete, agemi gola [land race]. The traditional beer which is collectively called as gola, is brewed with several kinds of cereals such as maize,
        sorghum, barley and finger millet. Materials varies in the different altitude and area.
        There are four kinds of methods of brewing gola, which are called as wocha gola, lacha gola, daatsa and api, respectively. However, apart from these four gola varieties, there is a special kind of beer, as the highest ranking gola, called agemi gola. It is said that this beer,
        agemi gola, is occasionally brewed from the young flowering stems with high sugar content, which is rarely obtained among the cultivated populations of ensete. Although
        frequently flowering, wild ensete are not used for making beer. Neither the corm nor the pseudostem pulp is used for brewing beer…



      • Diane says:

        Thanks, Diana.


  2. Pingback: Banana Beer and other Fermented Drinks in Africa | DIANABUJA'S BLOG

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  5. Pingback: A Colonial Description of Making Green Plantain Cider … | burundi today

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