Homemade Guaraná “bastaó” sticks
Guarana seeds act on the nervous system as a tonic and a slightly narcotic stimulant (this being obviously dose dependent). Which automatically makes them exciting to my brain inclined to seek stimulation through many means and plants. The serviceable excitation provided can remediate various stages and manners of exhaustion. Guarana’s potent stimulating effects are due to the caffeine and the “guaranine” ( the complex binding of caffeine to the tanning agents). However the overall effects are distinctly different from those produced by coffee and other purine drugs. It is thought that the long duration of the stimulant effects (in contrast to the relatively short duration of the effects of coffee) is due to the “guaranine”. Guarana has also an inhibiting effect upon sensations of hunger and thirst. It has been characterised as a harmless mild antidepressant. Guarana had acquired a reputation as a “techno music drug” in the 90s. Using copious amounts made it easier to dance through the night at techno parties which had a distinct ritual character.
Process to make a guaraná stick
Recipe: 200g of dried guarana seeds soaked in warm water/ Once peeled you will get about 135 grams of inner seeds/ Dry them in the oven for 6 hours at 110 degrees Celsius/ Powder those in a mixer and add about 90 grams of warm water to form a moldable doughy paste. Dry it at 90 degrees Celsius overnight.
Start by placing the dried fruits in water, allowing the outer hull to swell so that it can be more easily removed. During this process, the inner “nut” shrinks a bit through dehydration and the dark shell/skin loosens, letting the nut sway (like with a peanut); this black outer layer isn’t soluble in water when ground hence peel and throw it away like a banana skin. Then lightly roast the peeled seeds to affect the high starch content. To obtain a quality end result, use a clay pot or cast iron cookware and slowly bake for 6 hours at a temperature of 110 degree Celsius. The clay pots help to avoid sudden variations in temperature and consequently evaporation of caffeine or even burning of the smaller seeds. Ground the inner seeds that have been prepared in this way in a mixer or pound them with a pestle. This powder is kneaded with a little lukewarm water to produce a doughy paste, the high starch content makes it form a consistent mass that can easily be modeled. Originally it is sometimes mixed with manioc starch flour and perhaps also cacao powder.. This reddish brown dough is rolled into cylindrical pieces (about 20 cm) long called sticks, bread or “Bastao”; these are then dried in the sun, over a slow fire on your radiator or in your oven on the lowest heat, till they become very hard. I dried them at 90 degrees Celsius overnight.
Ways to use the powder:
In stick form all properties and smell are kept for years, because it is only grated at the time of taking. The simplest way to consume it is to make a beverage by grating the processed sticks into a powder which you mix with hot water. That beverage is only interesting in its effects. Old school portable energy in a stick. That is why this is the oldest and most traditional way to consume guarana, and that guarantees authenticity and purity. Use a small stainless grater or microplane such as those used for nutmeg or citrus peel.
Mix a teaspoon of guarana powder with honey and dilute with chilled coconut water
Mix with peanuts, muscovado a pinch of salt and iced water or (plant) milk.
Count half a tablespoonful into sugar and boiling water and drink it like tea.
Aromatically they have not much to show for. In their dried husk they have no smell. Bite into them raw to taste astringency and bitterness like raw cacao without its oiliness. Once processed you get a little earthy and woody flavour and can detect notes of toasted buckwheat and roasted green tea twigs. It has a malty/ coppery flavour of wholemeal flour (probably due to its high starch content) . The wet sticks smell of bad commercially processed basil pesto in jar. That’s the best I can describe it!