TODDY TAPPING IN NEGOMBO
Coconut tree is considered and treasured as a very valuable tree in Sri Lanka, hence known as the “tree of Life”. Each and every part of the tree, from the tree trunk to the leaves and the fruit can be put into use and be used to produce various varieties of goods. The coconut is used as a food and also as an ingredient to make food and the flower of the tree is used to extract Toddy.
If you are in the coastal area and especially in Negombo it is a very common sight to see two symmetrical ropes drawn from one coconut tree to another and people walking on them reminding you of acrobats. These are however not acrobats but the villagers who tap toddy.
This is a very ancient practice of the people of the island. Ropes that are made from coconut husks are tied around the trunk of the tree from the bottom to the top at equal distances and the toddy tapper in barefoot climbs on them to reach the top, walks from tree to tree on the symmetrically drawn ropes to tap toddy. The naturally alcoholic extract or the sap of the coconut flower is what known as the Toddy.
The experts in the business climbs up on like this with pots and the necessary equipment, and using these tools they tap the flower to boost the sap to ooze out and fill the pots. Once the pots are filled they are collected twice daily in the morning and at night.
If you try the toddy strained directly from the pot it would have a sweet taste. This sap can be put in so many different stages and create varieties of drinks and sweetmeats.
When it is left to ferment it would create an alcoholic drink (famously known as “raa” in Sinhalese) which is popular among the villagers. In the event this is further distilled coconut arrack can be made. This is also used to make various cocktails with a unique flavor, you could taste at the Vaaya Beach Hotel.
When this sap is heated it turns itself into treacle which is also known as coconut honey and this is served with Curd at the Negombo beach resorts. If this treacle further is heated it becomes palm sugar which is best served the Ceylon tea. Moreover when the toddy is left to ferment for a day Vinegar is formed.
So many uses, isn’t it?