Traditional Yerba Mate Gourd Curing and Care Instructions
Warning: Do not put boiling water in the gourd or your gourd may crack. Boiling water also harms the yerba mate and can burn your mouth!
The Yerba Mate Gourd
The Yerba Mate gourd, known as cabaça, calabaza, cuia or porongo, is made from the fruit of a gourd vine (Iagenaria vulgaris, cucurbitaceous family). Its preferred size and shape vary from region to region. These natural gourds are widely tailored and decorated, taking on various forms and colors, according to each gaucho’s taste.
Mate Factor gourds are harvested and prepared in the traditional fashion, naturally treated and individually decorated on the outside by a craftsman. The finished gourd, being natural, will have its own unique characteristics. Both on the inside and on the outside the gourd may show dark brown or grey stains that characterize the plant. These should not be seen as deformities or blemishes in the gourd, but as natural markings.
How to Cure Your Yerba Mate Gourd
For your gourd to be ready for use, it needs to be cured. This helps prevent cracking, molding, and improves the flavor. You will notice that the longer you use your gourd, the better your Yerba mate will taste.
Fill the gourd half-way with Yerba Mate. Pour hot (not boiling) water into the gourd until it is full. Warning: boiling water may crack your gourd. Let the gourd sit in a well-ventilated place for 24 hours, topping it off with water as the gourd absorbs it. Then pour out the contents of the gourd and rinse thoroughly in running water. Your gourd is ready for use!
Taking Good Care of Your Yerba Mate Gourd
After you have cured your gourd and are using it, it is essential that you know how to take good care of it. A good gourd should last you a long time, giving you years of flavorful yerba mate drinking. First of all, the gourd should never be dropped. Although it may not look delicate, the gourd is like a piece of fine china. If dropped or abused, small cracks may begin to form which increase with time, creating leaks and compromising your gourd.
The gourd is also prone to mold if not dried correctly. To keep you gourd dry between uses, rinse it out well with running water and position it in a well-ventilated, warm place, preferably at a 45° angle so that the circulating air flows through the gourd. Optionally, reserve a cotton cloth to dry the excess water after rinsing the gourd. In case signs of mold (usually white or black “furry” spots) do appear once the gourd is cured, rinse the gourd in scalding water. You may, as an option, use a little hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), then rinse thoroughly with water. Cure the gourd with ashes again to remove and destroy any residue left by the mold.
If you are prone to have allergic reactions to molds, do not try to reuse the gourd. The Mate Factor is not responsible for personal health problems acquired through the misuse of gourds, the failure to follow the instructions above, or the use of a gourd once it has molded. The instructions provided in case of mold are intended to instruct our customers on how the native peoples traditionally deal with molding gourds.
Pronounced Shee-maw-HUH-oo; in Brazil, the name attributed traditionally to the infusion of yerba mate prepared in the gourd.
How to Use Your Mate Gourd
- Fill your gourd 2/3 full of hot (not boiling) water.
- Place bombilla in the water and let it rest at an angle against the top of the gourd.
- Pour mate leaves on top of the water, letting them mound up.
- Poke about a 1/2 inch hole in the Maté mound on the opposite side to where the bombilla is resting.
- Sip through the bombilla and then re-pour with water through the hole.
- The first run may allow some leaves to get through, but then it seals as the Maté expands and sinks to the bottom around the bombilla.
- Put bombilla in empty gourd and let rest at an angle against the top of the gourd.
- Fill the gourd 2/3 full of Maté leaves.
- Pour hot (not boiling) water on top of the leaves and sip through the bombilla.
- Refill and drink until the mate is not strong enough anymore. The first few sips may allow some leaves to come through, but it seals as the Maté expands around the bombilla.