Vegetable Material Employed For Fermented Beverages Production in Andean Latin America

Beverages from Andean Latin America were prepared from a considerable variety of edible fruits and vegetables. Alcoholic drinks could be obtained from roots, tubers, seeds, fruits, leaves and even animal body parts, in a few cases (Leon and Hare 2008). Watery vegetables and fruits served as main substrates in the lowlands of Andean countries due to their proximity with the Amazonian jungle. Cereals, Andean crops, grains and seeds were used in the highlands. Spanish colonizers introduced new food crops to Latin America which were also included in the production of fermented beverages. The diversity of drinks found in Latin America is also attributed to the different ways of preparation and the intended purposes for which it is to be used, since meals were considered foods to feed the body and soul.

Aboriginal peoples from Andean Latin America take advantage of the broad biodiversity of edible food plants available in Andean lands for the production of alcoholic beverages. In the highlands, grains and tubers were used while in the tropical Andean regions sugary fruits and starchy tubers were added to common preparations.

The variety of beverages was immense, though the most popular was an alcoholic drink made on the basis of Jora, germinated or sprouted maize. There is another important drink called masato, prepared from vegetables, such as the tuber cassava. This beverage is well known in tropical areas and in low-lying regions of Andean countries where the growing of this tuber is feasible. This was the first drink that the Spaniards learnt about from the Andean tribes after arriving in Latin America. Fermented beverages in Andean Latin America were commonly prepared from cereal-like grains such as quinoa and kaniwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule Aellen.). Fruits from molle (Schinus molle L.) and algarrobo (Prosopis sp. L.) trees were employed for the production of fermented and non-fermented drinks, especially in the southern countries of the Andean region. The tuber oca (Oxalis tuberose Molina) was also an ingredient in the manufacturing of chicha. Another well-known beverage was one made with peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.) and it was probably the second most important beverage after maize beer. In the tropical Andes fermented beverages included mainly apples (Malus domestica Borkh.), loquat (Eriobotryajaponica (Thunb.) Lindl.), pineapple (Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.) and cactus pear (Opuntia sp. Mill.,) among others (de Leon Pinelo 1636).

The Spanish arrival in America brought several plant materials that were incorporated later in the traditional production methodologies along with the native Andean crops. Most of the new ingredients for drinks were almost all spices such as cloves (Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr & Perry), cinnamon, citrus (Citrus L.), anise and sugar cane, among others. Additionally, cereals like wheat (Triticum L.), rice and barley were incorporated passively, but Andean crops already had a strong tradition of use. Sugar cane became an important ingredient in the production of several fermented beverages since it allowed to produce sweet drinks and permitted the production of highly alcoholic drinks and to accelerate the process of fermentation. Panela is a solid bar of unrefined sugar cane and can be found in the literature of fermented beverages production with Spanish names like rapadura, chancaca,papelon orpilo- ncillo. Nowadays, the production of Andean drinks includes traditional ingredients from Andean America and those that were introduced from the Old World.

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