How is chicha made and what exactly is it?

For many travellers around the world, one of the most important parts of getting to know a new country and its culture is trying the local tipple.

From wine in France to sake in Japan, vodka in Russia and ale the UK, you don’t really know a country until you’ve sampled its alcoholic produce.

When it comes to the Amazon, the drink in question is chicha, a fermented or non-fermented beverage normally made from maize or cassava.

Found throughout South and Central America, chicha has been brewed by traditional communities for thousands of years and often plays a central role in religious and cultural ceremonies. And whether you’re joining Amazon Clipper Fleet in Brazil, Peru or Bolivia, there’s a good chance that chicha is going to feature at some point during your adventure.

Finding out how chicha is made will probably be one of the most surprising pieces of Amazon Rainforest info you’ll discover. Unlike most alcoholic drinks around the world chicha makers utilize the enzymes in their own saliva to help the fermentation process along.

By chewing, grinding and moistening the maize in their mouths, chicha makers help to break down the starch in the grain. The chicha is then rolled out to dry before being turned into their favoured tipple.

In the Amazon region, chicha is normally made from cassava root in place of maize. Traditionally it’s the women of the community who chew the cassava, spitting the resulting juice into a bowl before setting it aside to ferment.

The saliva from the chicha maker rapidly converts the starch to sugar, which is then converted into alcohol. In most cases, the drink will be ready to enjoy in just a few hours, with the alcohol content increasing the longer it’s left.

Guests are often offered chicha when visiting a traditional community, so there’s a good chance you’ll get to sample some during your Amazonian travels.

Chicha de Maiz

As you’ll discover while searching for Amazon rainforest info, there are different types of chicha available, some of which aren’t made using traditional chewing methods but instead made using a more modern brewing process.

In fact, in some parts of South America almost any homemade alcoholic drink is called chicha, so unless you’re in the Amazon jungle, you may not be enjoying the real thing

If finding out about chicha has inspired you to learn more Amazon rainforest info, there are plenty of weird and wonderful facts to discover, though the very best way to get to know the Amazon and its people is to pack your bags and come and see for yourself.

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