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     Curing a Yerba Mate Gourd

The name "Mate" derives from the quichua word "matí" that names the gourd that is traditionally used to drink the infusion. The Yerba Mate Cup or vessel most commonly used, is a gourd of the Lagenaria Vulgaris, a climbing plant, which grows in several parts of the worldAlways remember the gourd is a natural plant product.

The gourd is put to dry and hollowed out. Composed of 90 percent water, the gourd must go through a process of evaporation outdoors for about three or four months. 

In the drying process, the gourd will lose its fleshy membrane, leaving it hollow. They also lose much of their color. When dry, the hard-shelled gourds are almost as hard as wood.

There are mate cups that donīt need to be cured such as those made of wood or non-porous materials (glass, metal, china, etc.)

Gourds have a porous, fleshy texture on the inside. Some mate gourds may look "clean" on the inside and some other not. These ones can show some rests of dried membranes and even seeds (this is not very common though) on the inside which you can easily remove with your fingers or a scraping tool if the hole of the gourd is too narrow. Almost 100% of the mate gourds that are sold will look "clean" on the inside. 

In the old days, the guaraní indians talked about taking away "the bad spirit" each gourd had. Thatīs where the expression "to cure a gourd" comes from. By "curing" the gourds, the indians prepared them to be the perfect recipient for their favorite drink.

The curing has one purpose : the removal of the inner soft tissues a "clean" gourd still may have. By removing the soft membrane it will insure that your first mate will not be so bitter. You may find on other web sites, books or booklets that you must use old yerba mate in the curing process. This is not entirely necessary as the gourd will finally get its proper taste after several uses of the mate.

The best and fastest way in our opinion is to fill your new gourd with almost boiling water (boiled water could crack the gourd), let the hot water sit for approximately 10 - 15 minutes. After this you may use a teaspoon and softly scrape the membrane out of the gourd under running water. If you have successfully removed the majority of the membrane you have completed the curing process. We strongly suggest you complete this process even if the inside of your new gourd looks pretty clean.

The "curing" process has to be done only once when you first get a new gourd.

However if you want to use your gourd right away you don't have to cure it at all. The soft membrane will slowly be removed as you empty out the old mate and rinse with running water. The first couple of times the mate may have a more bitter taste by not curing it.

Please do not remove the stem in the center of the gourd. Doing so will cause the gourd to leak.

GOURDS WITH METAL RIM :

Add almost boiling water just below the lower part of the metal rim line. 

The reason you do not fill the gourd above the rim line is to allow for it to expand and seal tightly with the rim. If you put the water above the rim line when you cure it, your gourd will, more than likely, leak although it may stop after two or three days use because of the continuing expansion of the gourd and the sealing of the rim as we said above.

GOURDS WITHOUT METAL RIM :

Use the same procedure as above except you can fill it to the top with almost boiling water.

GOURDS THAT STATE THEY ARE ALREADY "PRE-CURED" :

Pre-cured gourds have been burned inside removing the majority of the soft membrane. This also leaves a smoky taste to the gourd which you may or may not like. 

The smoky taste will eventually go away the more you use the gourd.

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TIPS TO PREVENT OR REDUCE MOLD IN YOUR MATE GOURD :

Any natural gourd will mold as itīs a natural living green plant and is not made of any synthetic product. 

Also the leaves of the yerba leave a dark green tint (not harmful at all either) to the inside of the gourd which is not mold but just a bleeding of the color of the leaves. Some gourds may absorb more tint than others. Youīll also notice that this dark color is stronger towards the mouth of the gourd. This is because that part of the pumpkin has more contact with air while you drink your mate.

THIS WILL NOT HARM YOU IN ANY WAY NOR WILL MAKE YOUR GOURD UNUSEABLE. 

TIPS :

- After you have finished using your gourd for the day, it is very important that you rinse it well with warm water (no soap, please!!!) and dry it out well with a paper towel. Put another dry paper towel inside the gourd and let it thoroughly dry overnight. 

- Rinse out the inside of the gourd with a little lemon juice, then plain water and let it sit out in the sun for several hours. 

- If you care too much about that dark color inside your gourd itīs advisable not to leave your last brewing inside your mate gourd for more than 12 hours if itīs too hot.

- Once you finish drinking, thrown the used yerba, rinsed the gourd and dried it with a paper towel, sometimes itīs a good idea to put the mate gourd mouth down near the stove for a few seconds so that the very hot air can accelerate the drying. Needless to say, this should be done very carefully.

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Learn how to brew yerba mate the traditional way - Slide Show 

 

 

 

 

 

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