A bit more about Cascara…

A bit more about Cascara…

A few years ago I bought a bag of Cascara by mistake, thinking it was coffee.

The package seemed surprisingly light, but, being a coffee adventurer, I took it anyway.

I arrived home and once I opened the bag, I realised what it was – dried coffee cherries, the same kind of cherries that my grandmother in Martinique drinks as afternoon tea.

Cascara, in Spanish, means ‘husk’.

Cascara is the dried cherry and pulp, sometimes lightly roasted in order to make a delightful low caffeinated (only 2.02g of caffeine per kg of cascara), quite sweet and very fruity brew.

Cascara is quite rarely produced for export, however is commonly drunk in coffee producing country, like in Yemen, where it is called ‘Qishr’ or ‘Keshr’, or Bolivia where it is called ‘Sultana’.

Originally Qishr was a wine made of fermented coffee cherry pulp drunk by the Arabians around 1000 years ago during religious ceremonies by the Muslim Dervishes. Today, in Yemen, Qishr is a tea, made of spiced, slightly roasted coffee cherry served with a cinnamon stick.

Here some simple recipes to enjoy Cascara at home.

As a Hot Tea

Add 40g of cascara to 1L of water heated to 94-96°C, stir vigorously, and let it steep for 4 to 6 minutes, then remove the cascara. Enjoy as it is or add ice and/or a slice of dried orange. You will obtain a cloudy brew with a high sticky jammy body, high acidity, like stewed fruit (lemon curd), with high sweetness and a rather long aftertaste.

12036472_10154209417262053_4867445485329296058_nAs a Cold Tea

Add 45g of cascara to 1L of cold filtered water in a bottle. Stir the brew. Let the brew steep for 6 to 12 hours in the fridge. Once you are satisfied with the taste of your brew, remove the cascara from the brew. You will obtain a clear brew with a medium body, high acidity, like tropical fruit (pineapple), with high sweetness and a rather long aftertaste.

As a Cascara Syrup

Add 100g of cascara to 250ml of cold filtered of bottle water. Stir the brew. Let the brew steep for 3 hours at room temperature. Pour the brew with the cascara into a saucepan with 50g of caster sugar. Place the saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stir the mix slowly until the sugar melts. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes, then allow to simmer 3 minutes longer. Take the brew off the heat. Remove the Cascara and let the brew cool off. Keep the brew in the fridge (1-month shelf life).

Cascara syrup can be mixed with Filter coffee or Cold brew (better than sugar!), with liqueur and sparkling wine for crazy cocktails or with soda water and a slice of dried orange for Cascara Soda (Great for children!)

As a Cascara liqueur

13177405_10154206650037053_4698362224758207415_nAdd 100g of cascara to 250ml of cold filtered of bottle water. Stir the brew. Let the brew steep for 3 hours at room temperature. Pour the brew with the cascara into a saucepan with 50g of caster sugar. Place the saucepan over a medium-high heat, Stir the mix slowly until the sugar melts. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes, then allow to simmer 3 minutes longer. Take the brew off the heat. Remove the Cascara and let the brew cool off for 4 hours, then add 75cl of house Vodka. Stir the mix well then pour into a Kilner jar, and let it rest for 1 week in a cool place. After a week, remove the cascara and pour the liqueur into a bottle. Drink responsibly!

Here some interesting nutritional facts about Cascara, given to me by Panama Varietals.

100g of Cascara contain a measurable amounts of vitamins including 50% of the recommended daily intake of Biotin and Vitamin E, 10% of B1 and B2, 13% of Niacin, and 18% of Pantothenic Acid, also 35g of fibre, 19.6g of fructose, 16g of glucose, 6.15g of protein, 0.2g of caffeine and 0.85g of fat.

Which makes it a delicious and very healthy brew, and due to its low content in caffeine a children-friendly brew.

Regine Guion-Firmin.

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