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Yerba mate calabash: how to maintain it to make it last for a long time?

2022-11-22
Yerba mate calabash: how to maintain it to make it last for a long time?

Frequent use of the yerba mate calabash requires proper maintenance. Its purpose is to extend the life of the accessory. Different types of mate gourds require different cleaning and maintenance methods. If you want to find out how to take proper care of your yerba mate calabash, be sure to read this article!

Summary:

  1. Mate gourd made from calabash
  2. Curado - the traditional way of preparing yerba mate calabash
  3. “My yerba mate calabash gets mouldy! How can I clean it?”
  4. Advantages and disadvantages of drinking yerba mate in a calabash
  5. What is the best calabash for drinking yerba mate?

Mate gourd made from calabash

The first yerba mate drinkers made their vessels from a special variety of pumpkin, which, thanks to its very hard skin and suitable shape, performed its function perfectly. The traditional yerba mate calabash is made from the woody and hollow fruit of the gourd, named “calabaza” in Spanish. Depending on the country, yerba mate calabashes come in different shapes and are made from different parts of the fruit. Argentine calabashes - the most popular - have a rounded shape and thin walls. They are made from the bottom part of the fruit. In Brazil the most common type of yerba mate gourd is cuia - a calabash with thick walls and equipped with a wide collar. Its characteristic shape is very useful in the preparation of chimarrão. It is made from the upper part of the fruit. In Uruguay and Argentina, calabashes called porongo are also common - they are similar to the cuia, but are smaller and have thinner walls. They are made from the upper part of the fruit as well, and in addition are often equipped with metal legs - so that the rounded calabash can be placed firmly on a flat surface. In Brazil and sometimes in Argentina, calabashes called galleta are also found. The word literally means “cookie” in Spanish. These are flat-shaped vessels that are made by cutting off one of the sides of the flat calabash fruit. Many mate tea lovers still use natural calabashes today - and not just in South America! This is the most classic of the ways to enjoy yerba mate, and also the most difficult to preserve. Firstly, the calabash needs to be properly prepared, so if you want to prepare it for yourself, take care to clean the inside solidly of the pulp and seeds. The inside of the calabash is traditionally preserved with oil.

Curado - the traditional way of preparing yerba mate calabash

If you choose a natural calabash for a yerba mate drinking vessel, you have to prepare it properly first by preserving it so that it does not leak, does not rot too quickly and lasts as long as possible. Preparing the calabash also helps to remove the characteristic aroma of fruit which can have an unpleasant effect on the brew prepared in the vessel. The process of preparing the calabash for yerba mate is called curado. The initial step of curado is to fill calabash with yerba mate. In the hollowed-out fruit of the calabash, place wet leaves of yerba mate - about 2/3 of its height. Pour hot water (approximately 70-80 degrees Celsius) over the mate and leave it for about 12-24 hours - preferably a full 24 hours. The next step of curado is to empty the vessel and rinse it thoroughly under running water. The next very important step is to clean the calabash of pulp and seeds, preferably using a spoon. Do this carefully, with sensitivity, so you won’t damage the walls of the fruit. Now, you need to repeat the first steps - prepare the “infusion” again and leave the calabash for 24 hours before removing it with the remaining pulp and seeds. Finally, leave the calabash to dry thoroughly - necessarily with the opening upwards!

Yerba mate calabash

“My yerba mate calabash gets mouldy! How can I clean it?”

One of the most important parts of maintaining a yerba mate calabash is to clean it regularly. You can’t leave the wet leftovers inside the calabash after drinking the brew. Otherwise it can get mouldy. After each use, discard the grounds, rinse the vessel with cold water and then dry it thoroughly. It is very important to leave the calabash to dry upwards, preferably near a radiator or in the sun, so that it is not exposed to moisture for too long. From time to time, it's also a good idea to pour a teaspoon of baking soda into the calabash and pour hot water over it - this mixture will help get rid of any impurities. However, if you notice that your gourd is mouldy, be sure to get rid of it! Regardless of the type of calabash you have, it is worth sticking to the basic rule already mentioned - don't leave the leftovers of yerba mate in the calabash overnight! This creates the perfect conditions for mould to grow.

Advantages and disadvantages of drinking yerba mate in a calabash

The undoubted advantage of using a calabash to prepare yerba mate is that it is natural, made of real fruit, unique and inimitable. By choosing such a vessel, you can be sure that no one will have another mate gourd like this. It comes from nature, so when used - it will not pollute the environment. The calabashes - whether plain, round, cuias or Brazilian porongos - are usually beautifully decorated, in ethnic, unique patterns. They are equipped with reinforcing fittings that sometimes are small works of art. They are eye-catching and not only fit perfectly in the hand, but also look great on the shelf next to the packets of yerba mate. They are handmade - it is not a mass production. Similarly to pots made of palo santo wood, natural calabashes have their own unique atmosphere and magic, they influence the taste of the brew prepared in them and, in addition, they refer to tradition - the Guarani Indians first drank yerba mate in hollowed-out fruits of calabash. The calabash vessels are lightweight and, at the same time, very stable and sturdy. While a glass or ceramic mate gourd could shatter when dropped on the ground, a natural calabash will usually survive such a fall. In juxtaposition with all these advantages, the only disadvantage of the natural calabash is actually that it needs to be emptied quickly of any remaining leftovers and dried thoroughly, as it can rot.

What is the best calabash for drinking yerba mate?

In our online shop you will find different types of mate gourds - made of ceramic, aluminium, palo santo wood and even glass. Each type requires different care. Yerba mate gourds made of calabash or palo santo wood are usually covered with metal or leather on the outside. It is important to rinse the vessel thoroughly after each use, but be careful: it is not advisable to use any detergents, as the wood or calabash fruit may absorb them and change the taste of the infusions. If you are looking for a yerba mate gourd that is easy to use and clean, consider calabashes made of ceramic or aluminium. Before using them for the first time, it is a good idea to scald them to get rid of any packaging odour or impurities. After subsequent uses, you can wash them with the rest of the dishes.

Source of information:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mate_(drink).
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calabash.

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