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Stories From Kiribati


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Toddy information

Posted by Amota Eromanga on August 23, 2012 at 2:30 AM

What is toddy?

Toddy is the name of the sap that drips from the spathe of the coconut tree. It is sweet and tasty when it is fresh. It has been the source of drink for the people of Kiribati. People boil extra toddy to avoid it from fermenting or turning sour. If toddy is boiled for hours, it will finally turn into syrup, thus they call it kamwaimwai.

Uses of toddy

A lot of people use their extra toddy to earn money. They sell toddy especially kamwaimwai to those who need them. A ¾ litre bottle of kamwaimwai may cost up to $5.00. Others ferment toddy to make coconut wine, which they then sell it to customers. A normal seized cup of coconut wine usually cost 50 cents -$1.00. More people tend to buy coconut wine because it is a lot cheaper than beer or other imported liquor.

Apart from being used as the main source of drink, toddy is also a popular ingredients in cooking food. This is so due to its liquid state and sweet taste. For this, women use it for sweetening food. It can easily be turned into yeast for making bread, doughnut or turned to vinegar for making other food bitter or sour.

Toddy and Toddy cutter - information

Toddy cutter

     * Men cut toddy instead of women.

     * Toddy cutter learns to cut toddy at his early age and at home

     * He climbs the tree with the toddy containers and sharp knife

     * Footsteps cut out on the tree trunk help him in climbing up

     * Toddy cutter cuts his toddy two times a day (morning and afternoon)

Toddy cutter at the top of the tree

     * First thing, he takes the toddy container from the spathe

     * Secondly, he cuts 3-4 thin layers off the end of the spathe

     * Then he attaches a new leaf to the end of the spathe

     * He puts the other end of the new leaf inside the new container

     * He may sing and whistle while doing all the things above

Toddy at home

     * Toddy cutter hangs his toddy container(s) on the tokotu (woddy hanger)

     * Wife or children start mixing toddy with water for their drinking

     * Wife may boil toddy remaining toddy to prevent it from going sour (fermenting)

     * Cook food with toddy – bread, doughnuts, etc

     * Wife may boil toddy for long time to make it into kamwaimwai (molasses)

     * Wife may leave toddy outside for hours so it turns into vinegar, wine or yeast for food making

Hopefully, this article has provided enough of basic information on what toddy is and how it is being used in Kiribati. It has also given some general views of what toddy cutters usually do when they get to the top of the tree as well as what happens to toddy as it is taken home to the family.

To learn more about toddy, click How to wind toddy and Toddy knife.


Categories: Culture & Custom