Monday, December 5, 2011

Suwa (Eritrean Beer)

Yield: 6 quarts
Gesho is a kind of buckthorn shrub with bitter leaves that have a taste similar to hops. One ounce (about 1 cup) of hopes cones, available in beer-making stores, can be substituted for the gesho leaves. Making suwa and allowing it to ferment takes thirteen days. We had it during the feast of St. Mary at an Eritrean teacher’s parents’ home. They served it room temperature.

½ pound gesho leaves
1 pound wheat berries (whole-wheat kernels)
8 cups of barley flour

1. Grind the gesho leaves in a blender or a food processor and put them into 8 cups of water and boil for about 15 minutes. Pour the boiled mixture into a large earthenware or glass container and add 16 cups (1 gallon) of water. Cover the container and let it stand for 6 days at room temperature, while you prepare the wheat berries.
2. Put the wheat berries in a covered container and add enough water to cover them. In about 3 days they will start to germinate. At that time, take them out of the water and place them in an empty container, cover it, and let them continue germinating at room temperature for 3 more days.
3. Remove the germinating wheat, spread it out on a baking sheet, and dry it in a 150°F oven for 1 hour, until they are crisp. Grind in a food processor, and add to the soaking leaves and water.
4. Mix the barley flour with 3 cups of water to make a dough. Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it for about 10 minutes, until it browns on top.
5. Let it cool. Then break it into pieces and add it to the gesho leaves and wheat berry mixture n the container.
6. Let the container stand for an additional 7 days at room temperature.
7. At the end of that time, you will have a slightly alcoholic beverage. Before it can be served, it must be strained several times through a clean cloth.
8. Keep the suwa in the refrigerator or bottle it. It will keep for several weeks.

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