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Palm wine, also called PalmToddy or simply Toddy, is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree. The drink is particularly common in parts of Africa, South India (particularly Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where it is known by the name of kallu and in the Philippines, where it is known as tuba.

The sap is collected by a tapper. Typically the sap is collected from the cut flower of the tree. A container, often a gourd or bottle is fastened to the flower stump to collect the sap. The initial white liquid that is collected tends to be very sweet and is not alcoholic. In some areas, the entire palm tree is felled and the crown exposed to collect the sap. When this method is used, a fire is lit at the root end of the tree to quicken collection of sap.

In parts of India, the unfermented sap is called "neera" and is refrigerated, stored and distributed by semi-government agencies. Neera has a lot of nutrients including potash. Palm sap begins fermenting immediately after collection due to natural yeasts in the air (this is often spurred by residual yeast left in the collecting container). Within two hours, fermentation yields an aromatic wine of up to 4% alcohol content, mildly intoxicating and sweet. The wine may be allowed to ferment longer, up to a day, to yield a stronger, more sour and acidic taste, which some people prefer. Longer fermentation produces vinegar instead of stronger wine.

Palm wine is consumed in different countries with some variations in production methods and is know by local names. Some of the name used are as follow:

Country or Region Local Name




ra, panam culloo

Dem Rep of the Congo





doka, nsafufuo, palm wine, yabra


kallu-Telugu, Tamil & Malayalam, tadi- tamil, toddy-Marathi


niva, tuak


emu, ogogoro, palm wine, tombo liquor

Papua New Guinea

segero, tuak



South Africa


In Africa, the sap used to create palm wine is most often taken from wild date palms such as the Phoenix sylvestrix, the palmyra, and the Caryota urens; from oil palm such as Elaeis guineense; or from Raphia palms, Kithul palms, or Nipa palms. In India and South Asia, coconut palms and taller palms, such as the Arecaceae and Borassus, are preferred. One common name of Jubaea chilensis is "Chilean wine palm", although this species is now endangered in the wild and is rarely used to make wine today. In South Africa palm wine (Ubusulu) is produced in Maputaland, the area to the south of Mocambique between the Lobombo mountains and the Indian Ocean. It is mainly produced from the lala palm (Hyphaene coriacea) by cutting the stem and collecting the sap. In part of central & western Dem. Rep. of Congo palm wine is called "malafu" and a palm wine tapper is called an "ngemi". There are four types of palm wine in the central & southern DRC. From the Oil palm comes "ngasi"( N-ga-shee), "dibondo" comes from the Raffia palm, "cocoti" from the Coconut palm, and "mahusu" from a short palm which grows in the savannah areas of western Bandundu & Kasai provinces. Palm sap is collected once or twice a day and combined in plastic drums.

Palm wine may be distilled to create a stronger drink, which goes by different names depending on the region (examples are arrack, village gin, and village whiskey). In parts of southern Ghana distilled palm wine is called "apa teshi" or "bumkutu ku". In Togo it's "sodabe" (sugarbe is made from sugar cane). Palm wine may also be evaporated to leave an unrefined sugar called jaggeryin some areas.

Social role
Palm wine is generally drunk fairly soon after creation, since it has a short shelf life. However, it may be refrigerated to extend its life.

In Kerala, India, palm wine is usually available at toddy shops, known as "Kallu Kada" in Malayalam (it translates in English to "Liquor Shop"). In the Lingala speaking areas of the DRC and Rep of Congo; roadside palm wine bars are called "ikala". In Tamil Nadu, India, the beverage is currently banned, though the legality fluctuates with politics. Without legal toddy, there arises the problem of methanol (lethal when consumed) being illicitly sold as arrack. To discourage this practice, authorities have pushed for inexpensive Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), much to the dismay of toddy tappers.

Palm wine plays an important role in many ceremonies in parts of the DRC and elsewhere in central Africa. Guests at weddings, birth celebrations, and funeral wakes are served generous amounts. Palm wine is often infused with medicinal herbs to remedy a wide variety of physical complaints. As a token of repsect to deceased ancestors, many drinking sessions begin with a small amount of palm wine spilled on the ground ("Kulosa malafu" in Kikongo ya Leta). Palm wine is enjoyed by men & women, although women usually drink it in less public venues.




This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors (see full disclaimer)

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