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Stories From Kiribati

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How to wind toddy

Posted by Amota Eromanga on August 21, 2012 at 2:55 AM

Things needed:

     i. sharp toddy knife

     ii. string (about 10 meters in length)

     iii. coconut tree with ripe spathe

Never wind toddy spathe before? Let me show you, but first let me say that in Kiribati men cut toddy for the family. Toddy cutting is the job of boys and young men. Women help in making string and sometimes in cleaning toddy containers.

Okay, let’s go: Climb up the toddy tree. Position yourself so you sit facing the spathe. Now that you are set up there in the tree, you may begin working on the spathe.

Carry out these 13 simple steps:

1. Clean the spathe with your hands.

2. Tear open the raibwebwe (brown fibre - spathe shoots out from). This will enable the spathe to move about as you work on it.

3. Turn the spathe three times through the angle of up to 50 degrees to the left and then three times to the right. Do it slowly and carefully.

4. Hold the bottom part of the spathe with your left hand while your right hand holds the top of the spathe.

5. Okay, pull the top part of the spathe slowly toward you while your left hand keep holding to steady the bottom part in position – then slowly release the spathe.

6. Repeat step 5 until the spathe leans forward when released - almost resting on your shoulder.

7. Tie the string (knot) somewhere at the bottom of the spathe - usually below the buto (swollen part of the spathe).

8. With your knife, cut downward an opening line of about 10-20cm just below the knot you tied in step 7. Don’t cut too deep there or you will wound the base of the inflorescence (flowers).

9. Now begin winding the string around the spathe (tightly enough) until you almost reach the tip of the spathe. Winding string will prevent the spathe from expanding.

10. Cut off the tip of the spathe leaving about 10-20cm from the end of the string.

11. Push or pull down the spathe, hold it down there with a piece of string tied to the leaf below.

12. Remove the green skin of the spathe - of about 5-10cm from the end.

13. Wind string around that inflorescence (flowers) and then slice off 2-3 thin layers gently with your sharp knife.



Congratulations! You have wound a new spathe and is now ready to produce toddy. The next job is to slice the tip of the spathe; 2-3 times a day. Doing this will enable the spathe to start dripping sap (sweet liquid) which is a healthy drink.

Okay then, let's go down :-)

To learn more about toddy, click  toddy information and toddy knife.

Categories: Culture & Custom

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