Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Spotlight on Ghanaian local drinks

by Poku Adda

The fresh bottled palm wine, sold in bars and leading supermarkets under the label Palmbert, actually made its debut at the All-Africa Trade Fair held in Lome to- wards the latter part of last year, where its taste and flavour scored international acclaim.

Palm wine is derived from the white, milky, yeasty sap of the oil palm tree and can be tapped from the felled tree or from the standing tall varieties. It has for a long time been served fresh, as sweet or slightly fermented usually from clay pots and drunk from gourd shells or cala- bashes. Now a new innovation has come into the culture as commercialization takes over.

A young Ghanaian food technologist has successfully produced palm wine in labelled bottles. He is reported to have intimated that he used undisclosed herbal preservations which do not affect the taste or strength of the drink. His method of sterilisation, according to reports, has been approved by the National quality control body, the Ghana Standards Board.

Pito, the savannah beer brewed from millets, is making inroads into the conventional lager beer trade especially in the northern region of the country.

The raw materials are millet or guinea corn which is soaked for up to five days. The soaked product is dried and milled to flour texture. The flour is suspended in water in large vats for a day or two and then heated on open fires for between six to eight hours, and then filtered using traditional metal or raffia basket sieves, the hot liquid left after sieving, ie. the filtrate, is cooled, and topped with small quantities of yeast and left to keep still for one more day. Pito drink is now ready for customers.

Regular drinkers are skilled in judging the quality of the drink from being too dilute, too sour or too sweet.

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