Palm wine

I was super excited the last time I attended an African party and luckily bumped into palm wine. My Oh My!!!

I felt so nostalgic, flashing back through the past and how much I’ve missed this amazing drink. Nevertheless, I ain’t complaining at all but instead, I seized the opportunity to capture a shot of the drink so I can share some key facts you need to know about palm wine with you.

Over the past years, there has been a growing interest in unraveling some natural drinks that are safe, healthy and environmentally friendly. One of such drinks that fall into this category is the palm wine drink.

Peradventure this is your first time of hearing about this drink, let me just point out that palm wine is an alcoholic beverage produced only from the sap of certain species of palm trees. The palm wine is a major drink product from the palm tree and its production is popular especially in rural villages of certain countries and continents such as the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and South America.

Studies reveal that over ten million people consume palm wine all over the world and its production has become a source of household income in some countries. Different countries have different names for palm wine, for example the Philippines call it tubâ, Algeria call it lāgmi, Cambodia call it Tuk tnout choo, Ibos call it mmaya ngwo, mmanya nkwu, mmanya ocha, Yoruba call it emu or oguro, Ghana call it nsafufuo, Thailands call it kache,  Malaysia call it kallu, Ivory Coast call it koutoukou, South Africa call it ubusulu, South Indians call it kallu, Seychelles call it kalou, Sri Lankans call it Raa, Cameroon call it matango, Congo call it malafu, Gabon call it toutou while Sierra Leones call it poyo. With all these numerous countries having different names for this drink, that only tells you how popular the palm wine drink is all over the world.

The palm wine sap is usually extracted and collected by a palm wine tapper and it is mainly produced through fermentation of the sugary palm sap collected from palm trees.  Palm tree is botanically known as Arecaceae and belongs to the family of Palmaceae or Palmae. It is a perennial tree with approximately 2600 species present in the subtropical, tropical, rain forests and warm temperate regions of the world. Palm trees are characterized by large, slender evergreen leaves that are finely arranged at the uppermost part of the stem.

Palm tree

Palm trees are among the most popularly cultivated plant families and have been historically beneficial for human usage. Several food items and products are being produced from palms. Apart from palm wine, it might interest you to know that virtually every parts of the palm tree is  economically beneficial to us.

The palm leaves can be used for making roof mat that acts as shelter, the raffia can be used for knitting baskets, the palm fronds can be used for making brooms, the palm nuts can be used for making palm oil while the stem is used for palm wine and palm sap production that serves as beverage. Palm wine can also be used for distilling other stronger drinks such as burukutu, charayam, local gin, ogogoro, kaikai, akpeteshi, arrack and whiskey.

Palm wine sap is mainly obtained from either Elaeis guineense, wild date palms, palmyra, coconut palms, Raffia palms, kithul palms, jaggery palm or silver date palm, toddy palm or nipa palms. Palm wine is usually combined with other medicinal herbs and used for treating certain diseases.

How to Tap Palm Wine

Palm wine is produced by tapping the top of the palm trunk after cutting the palm tree and drilling a hole into the trunk. The sap is then collected from the cut section of the palm tree by fastening a container or gourd  to the flower stump in other to collect the palm sap. The sap should be collected on a daily basis and ought to be consumed within 24 hours of collection. Palm wine has a cloudy whitish appearance and it is a kind of beverage that has sweet alcoholic taste. Alternatively, the entire palm tree can be fell down with fire being  lit at the cut end so as to prompt the collection of palm sap.

It might also interest you to know that palm sap has a short shelf life of just 1 day. After collecting the palm sap, it begins a fermentation process due to the presence of natural yeasts in the wine. Palm wine fermentation yields tasty wine that is sweet, sour or acidic with approximately 4% alcoholic content. The longer the fermentation process of the palm wine, the stronger and more sour or acidic the taste turns out to be. However, longer days of palm wine fermentation produces vinegar rather than stronger wine.

Palm Wine Benefits

Palm wine is believed to be socially, nutritionally, traditionally and medically useful to human beings and as such has resulted to its high demand.

1. Traditional Uses of Palm Wine

The use of palm wine in traditional ceremonies is popular in many cultures  for examples; during libations whereby palm wine is poured out as an offering to a deity or god. Some traditionalists spill palm wine on the ground as a mark of respect to their dead ancestors. Palm wine plays a significant role in many African occasions and traditional events for example, it is served as special drink to guests during celebrations, birth celebrations, parties and weddings etc. 

During traditional wedding ceremonies in Igboland, palm wine is customarily given to the bride by the head of the family. The bride confirms her husband by serving him the palm wine after searching for him from among the crowd of attendees.

2. Control of Cardiovascular Diseases

Studies reveal that an average consumption of palm wine is vital for minimizing death rate caused as a result of cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure. Notwithstanding, excessive intake of palm wine containing high alcoholic contents has side effects to human health thus should be taken reasonably.

3. Culinary Benefits of Palm Wine

Palm wine can be used for culinary purposes for example, it can be used as a yeast substitute for leavening food products. The sugar in palm sap can be used for making coconut honey and jaggery. Fermented palm sap can be used for distilling alcohol and gins. Edible larvae of weevils and beetles can be collected from infected palms, which is prepared and served as food.

Palm wine can be combined with rice dough, which is allowed to stay overnight in other to ferment. This method causes the dough to expand and rise overnight thereby softening the bread.

4. Antibacterial properties of palm wine

Palm wine is usually consumed for treating food-borne and diarrhea  diseases due to its high antibacterial properties.

5. Eye Treatment

Palm wine contains yeast and other vital chemical properties that makes it suitable for treating eye problems. Optometrists confirm that yeast is very good for the eyes thus the presence of yeast in palm wine makes it very helpful for boosting eyesight. However palm wine should be taken with caution due to its alcoholic contents that can affect the kidney  and liver.

6. Malarial Treatment

Palm wine can be combined with other local herbs for consumption during malarial attacks.

7. Milk Production in Lactating Mothers

Lactating mothers can drink palm wine to facilitate breast milk production.

8. Nutritional Uses of Palm Wine

Palm wine is nutritionally important because it is an excellent source of probiotic acid, nicotinic acid, thiamin, vitamin C, protein and riboflavin.

9. Treatment of Stomach Problems

In folk medicines, palm wine is mixed with other herbs and used for treating stomach disorders.

10. Treatment of Skin Rashes

Palm wine can be applied on the skin for treating skin rashes especially  in children.

12. Other Uses of Palm Tree

The mesocarp of the ripe palm fruit can be used for producing edible palm oil while the palm trunk  serves as a firewood.

Having read through this post, it will be highly appreciated if you leave your opinion or ask related questions in the comment section. Every opinion counts!!!


This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.


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