Is this your first time using a gourd to drink Yerba Mate?
Let us first highlight that while the process of curing your gourd is recommended, it is not necessary. It is a practice in Argentina to simply consider the first two times that you use the mate as the curing itself. Just prepare the mate and drink it as normal. Once finished, do not remove the yerba from the gourd but instead let it sit overnight and the next day you can proceed to clean it out (see step #2 if needed). Repeat this process twice and you are good to go!!! Simple and easy.
IF YOU WANT TO DO THE REAL DEAL
The process of adapting the mate-gourd to the yerba mate infusion that it will be destined to hold is called Curar el mate (cure the matí).
The mates-gourds, mostly made of porous materials, admit this process (especially those made with a hollowed-out calabash) since their inner walls will be able to be permeated with the "spirit of the yerba," making the concoction to mature with a personal antique touch, as appreciated by the experimented "matero" as the quality of the yerba itself.
The following are the two steps in the process of curing the mate: the curing itself and the usage which improves the curing as time goes by.
The curing of the mate has mainly two purposes: a) Removal of interior skin and b) Process of adaptation:
A) REMOVAL OF INTERIOR SKIN:
It comprises the eliminating of the soft skin of the inner walls of the calabash. (This process is not necessary in the case of the mates made of wood or any other porous material.) The new calabash is then filled with a used and wet brewing, taken from a mate in use, preferably bitter. Then, a squirt of hot water is poured and it is left resting during one day. When that time is complete, the yerba is removed and the calabash is well-rinsed. Then the inner walls are scraped with an appropriate object to take off the soft skin, almost loose by the maceration effect. Once this process has been finished, it is rinsed again with plenty of water and the operation is repeated from the beginning.
B) PROCESS OF ADAPATION OR "CURADO":
It is prepared to the type of infusion that it will be destined to hold. And while this is highly recommended, it is also a practice of simplicity to utilize a steel stainless gourd, which allows to avoid these steps.
FOLLOW THESE STEPS
a) MOST RECOMMENDED: For a bitter mate called Galleta: fill it up with a new brew, then add boiling water and allow it to rest until the following day—ideally 24 hours. Once completed, empty the mate and rinse it with water. See Steps 1 through 6 listed below.
NOTE: The robust infusion caused by the boiling water will impregnate the walls of the "galleta," which will be ready to be used. Some people repeat this operation for two or three days, and sometimes it is certainly better this way. It allows a better impregnation of the inner walls.
b) MORE COMPLEXED: For a sweet mate called Poro: Place two or three teaspoons of sugar and quickly add a well-lit ember. Cover the mouth of the mate and shake it vigorously so that the sugar is burned. The sugar and the smoke of its combustion sweeten and scent the bark of the "poro."
CURING THE MATE STEP-BY-STEP
STEP # 1
Fill the mate-gourd with a used and wet brew. Ideally, this is taken from a mate in use, if you have one, and, better yet, preferably bitter.
STEP # 2
Pour a shot of hot water and let it rest for one whole day.
STEP # 3
Remove the yerba.
STEP # 4
Rinse the calabash with warm water.
STEP # 5
Scrape the inner walls with a proper tool to take off the skin, which is soft by now, and almost loose by the maceration effect.
STEP # 6
Fill it with a new brew, then add boiling water and let it rest until the following day. With plenty of water, rinse again, and the operation is repeated from the beginning.
Now, you are ready to go. Drink mate four or five times a day for breakfast, midmorning, after lunch, after supper, and late in the evening. If going out on a trip, get yourself a ThermoBottle with hot water and carry the mate with you. If driving, train your copilot to serve or "cebar" mate while you enjoy the driving. In Argentina, most of us carry MATE EQUIPMENT in our car when traveling that consists of:
- A stove furnace like a " Coleman" or similar
- A stainless steel or aluminum kettle
- A Thermo bottle
- A package of Yerba Mate of your preference
- A gourd or two (just in case)
- A bombilla or two (just in case)
- A bottle with plenty of fresh water to heat
- A pot of sugar (if you like sweet mate - I don't - bitter is healthier!)
America has wonderful and beautiful rest areas on its highways all across the nation. Stop on a large trip, heat some water, and either drink some mates there or keep going—this will shorten the trip like you can not imagine!
Now, after this humble advice, enjoy, be healthy, and be happy.