Step by Step Process of Toddy Tapping done in Kerala
Described below is my first hand experience of how kallu is extracted
First step is to pick a blooming coconut tree. It should be bearing healthy coconut fruit buds.
The tree is then leased from the owner. Direct selling of toddy by tree owners or toddy tappers is illegal in Kerala. If caught in the act the tapper will loose his license and also buyers will be prosecuted. If you are interested in tasting the real toddy, you should approach a tapper in secret if he is kind you may get the original stuff unadulterated and fresh.
Now the palm tree is tied with coconut husks with the help of coir rope on every two feet interval. Making the tree a ladder. There are some tappers who use coir rope to climb daily which should be avoided because when a tapper climbs on a tree thrice daily the tree trunk becomes glossy like a tile. After some time it proves difficult to climb up and down.
Then new unopened buds of the palm flower are cut leaving 95% remaining on the tree with a knife(katiaal). The whole bud is then beaten and pound with a hammer(traditionally femur bone of deer was used for this process), bud gets swollen. Each new bud can be used until it ceases to provide sap or if it gets infected. A good bud usually last for maximum 2 months.
Then the cut bud is bound with tender coconut leaf or a rope ahead of the cut part, and paste of taali leaf is applied on the cut portion. It keeps bacterial infection away and makes the bud ooze sap, also not allowing it to go dry and heal. Some people use a certain type of clay instead, which is ideally not good for the palm. The clay helps in extracting more toddy than the traditional way, toddy smells and tastes a little different when clay is applied as per experts.
After beating the new flower bud for a week the flower begins to ooze sap which can be collected twice daily. The same steps are repeatedly daily– cutting, beating, taali leaf paste application.
Paani or the mud vessel is fitted in a fashion covering half of the bud so that the sap drips into the vessel.
Some tappers even cover the mud vessel mouth with gunny sack material so insects don’t get in the vessel.
Toddy Tapper(Chethukaran) has to climb the same palm tree thrice daily – in the morning and evening to collect toddy and in the afternoon to slow down the sap from dripping as it helps the palm to recover. However not every one practice this method.
A lot of insects get attracted to this drink, some of which are very poisonous like Asian hornet. Insects pose a lot of danger to the toddy tapper. The beverage is then filtered before it is ready to be served.
1 to 1.5 Liters of toddy can be extracted from each palm tree.
Traditionally toddy was stored and collected in calabash vessel(chernga as we call it in Kerala) or lauki in hindi.
Note: You can add a piece of white pumpkin or little edible lime/Calcium hydroxide to stop fermentation of toddy, so you can keep it fresh for a long run.
Some products derived out of toddy are: palm jaggery, vinegar, arrack and yeast