What is guarapo canario

There are many secrets and wonders hidden in the Canary Islands that make them even more attractive to tourists and visitors. One of them is guarapo, a typical Canary Island liquor that is characterized by its very sweet and peculiar taste. It is a typical drink from the island of La Gomera , where there is an abundance of Canary Island palm trees from which it is extracted.

Guarapo canario, a product of the Canary Island palm

What is guarapo

Guarapo is a typical drink from the island of La Gomera, made from the sap of the Canary Island' s palm tree(Phoenix Canariensis). It is one of the most popular liqueurs in the Canary Islands and represents the close relationship between the inhabitants of La Gomera and the palm trees.

Guarapo is a fundamental ingredient in Gomeran gastronomy, as it is used to make various desserts and is served as a drink or accompaniment for different Canarian dishes.

According to historians, the extraction of guarapo was associated with all of the Canary Islands, but over time it was abandoned, being relegated exclusively to La Gomera, where it has become an important part of its gastronomy.

In the beginning, the Canarian aborigines extracted the guarapo to use it as medicine or as food. Over time, it was used to make a liqueur that became a popular drink and eventually took root on the small, volcanic island of La Gomera, where the Canary Island palm tree is abundant.

The Canarian Palm, symbol of the Islands

How to extract the guarapo canario

Sawing is known as the technique used to extract palm sap from the palm tree. The process of extracting the guarapo canario follows a series of steps and processes:

Choice of the palm tree

The choice of the palm tree from which to obtain the palm or guarapo sap is fundamental in order to obtain a higher quality product. This choice will also influence the amount of guarapo that can be obtained in the extraction.

There are many factors that influence the choice of the right palm tree; the most important are the geographical location, because of the ideal temperature and humidity conditions (between 20 and 25 °C and between 80 and 90 % humidity), the altitude of the palm tree and its vigour.

It is important that the palm tree is in a clayey soil, since in other more sandy conditions the sap obtained will not be of good quality.

Preparing access

In order to prepare the access to the palm tree the despencado is made, process that consists of removing the central leaves of the palm (the youngest). In this process, the destocking is carried out, where the stalk is cut off and the thorns are left exposed on the surface of the stem. The objective of the destocking and the descogolle is to leave the access free to be able to climb with comfort to the highest part of the trunk of the palm tree.

Palm of La Gomera

Field preparation

Several days after the palm tree is peeled, the preparation of the surface where the guarapo will flow or sprout begins. This is the previous step to the extraction of the palm sap from the palm tree.

Removal of the Guarapo

Finally, the extraction of guarapo or palm sap begins. To do this, the guarapero goes up to the palm tree with a very sharp curved chisel, and proceeds to cut a thin sheet from the trunk, a process known as rebating. After making this cut, a cane g utter is fixed so that the sap emanates to the collection bucket located on the collection surface.

The lowering is carried out at sunset, and in this way, during the night, the mud flows from the wound made in the trunk, through the gutter, to the collection bucket.

At dawn, the guarapo obtained is collected and treated with a filtering process to eliminate its impurities and is prepared for cooking.

Beautiful Canarian palm tree

Protection of the palm tree when extracting guarapo

In the Canary Islands, the process of extracting palm sap has been perfected to such an extent that the palm is not in danger. This is achieved by a healing process whereby the cut made in the trunk is protected with a palm leaf mat, which prevents the sun's rays from damaging the palm at that critical point.

Preparing the guarapo and how to take it

The guarapo must be cooked from the moment it is collected and filtered first thing in the morning, to avoid fermentation. During this cooking, no extra products are added, not even sugar, because the contribution of the cane guarapo is enough to get a very sweet product.

Guarapo is a very digestive and purifying restorative drink, so it is traditionally drunk after meals. It also provides important minerals such as iron, phosphorus and magnesium.

Guarapo can be drunk as a liqueur, a complement to desserts and as a sweetener for different dishes due to its high sugar content.

Guarapo canario marketed

With a technique that does not endanger the life of the palm tree, the guarapo canario is extracted in a traditional way to obtain a unique product that is used as a liquor and in the elaboration of multiple canarian desserts. Although it was originally produced in all the Canary Islands, at present its extraction is restricted to the island of La Gomera, where it has become one of the characteristic products of that island.

Photos: Canary Islands Government, dacil04.blogspot.com, rosanamenendez.es, kactus.es. 

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