How to Make Marula Beer!


Wow! Been some time since our last post! The holiday are fast  approaching, so perhaps this is a good time for a holiday recipe. One that is good at any time!

For centuries back, Africans have been making “beer,” also known as Mukumbi to the Venda, from marula. Festivals in celebration of the marula harvest happen every year when the fruit starts falling from the trees.

The drink can be quite potent. In fact, the “beer” more closely resembles a wine, but what the heck… it is merely semantics. The drink must be enjoyed when it’s available, and that is only a few months of the year.

Now you can appreciate the adventure right at home!

Ok, this is like baking a cake. Well, only in the sense that you to plan first. You need a few things, and you need a recipe.

First things first: Find yourself a marula tree or two. The trees are very prolific in producing fruit, so a single tree should suffice… unless you are a member of a beer club. A large beer club. You can be guzzling the brew within a matter of a few days.

(Ever hear the tale of marula and drunk elephants? They don’t have to make beer… they simply eat the fruit. A lot of fruit. Videos of drunken animals – elephants, baboons, and giraffe – stumbling around after eating fermented marula fruit is a crowd favorite.)

Once you have collected the fruit from the ground under a marula tree or two or three (how big is your beer club?), you need to wash and rinse the fruit. That is just to get the dirt off… and other stuff, if elephants or baboons frequent the area.

• Marulas (lots) Oh, you don’t have a marula tree, and the local grocery doesn’t have any in stock? That can be a problem.** (Plums might work. But, who wants to make plum “beer”?)

• Two or three clean buckets (white is nice, but any color will do. You need one with a lid that seals – more if your beer club has lots of members.

• A knife (sharp preferred)

• Bandaids. (In case of an incident with the sharp knife. If you’ve had enough beer prior to the incident, you may not know you need a bandaid. Hmm… )

• 2 spatulas or 3 or however many you have. Flat things work just fine, including hands, clean if possible.

• 1 cup of sugar (optional) Nah, not optional. This stuff needs sugar.

• potatoshhmasherer (you can also use a plain ol’ potato masher, if you are sober during this procedure)

• A six-pack or two or more (depending on the size of your beer club) of your favorite hand-crafted brews. (If you are making marula beer, you probably are not drinking Bud Lite!)

Note: Malt is not required. Or hops. Definitely, no hops.

Open a beer. Take a swig. This is going to be messy.

With your sharp knife, cut each marula along the equator of the fruit. Remove knife. Twist and squeeze the pip, flesh and juice out of the skin and into a bucket – yikes, that sounds a bit gory! If you aren’t certain where or what the equator is, don’t worry about it. Just get the juice out of the marula.

Continue to do this with all the marula fruit. You can throw out the ones that have already started fermenting (your choice – really! If it’s already fermented, skip the rest of the steps and eat as is. But what fun is that?)

BTW, elephants can smell fermenting marula from a long, long way off. Keep your eyes open for unexpected large guests.

Whew! Hard work. Time for a brewski.

Once you have finished peeling the fruit, add cool water (enough to cover the fruit) and begin mashing the fruit with a potatoshhmasherer. You need to remove some of the flesh and the juice from the stone in the center.

That calls for another beer.

When you are confident you have mashed the fruit enough, squeeze the fruit a few at a time just to collect as much of the liquid as you can. (If you like squeezing, you can carry on with your honey. Or, whomever.)

Have one more brew. You are almost done.

Once all this is finished, the traditional beer-making process is now complete. You can add a cup of sugar to +/- 2 liters of liquid to assist with fermentation. This also sweetens the beer slightly. If not certain, try some without sugar and some with sugar. Use different buckets. This is where colored buckets come in handy.

Now, you have the product of your extensive efforts. Time to seal the beer. Put the lid on the bucket and wait at least 2 days, 4 at most. Open the lid daily to release the pressure and reclose. Alternately, you can leave the lid on. The resulting explosion could result in a 911 call from the neighbors, but hey… what a great story that would make!

After 4 days, there should be a thick head of foam that smells a bit like vinegar. You might notice it crawling around on the floor. That usually indicates you filled the bucket too full.

Oh, boy… vinegar! Who can resist vinegar!

Remove the foam using a spatula, spatulas, sieve, shovel, shop vac, etc. Toss that stuff out – on the garden, the neighbor’s lawn, someplace. The liquid below the foam should not smell vinegary. It should taste fresh, yeasty and bubbly, with an almost pineapple flavor.

Bottle or jar the remaining product. Yep. That’s the “beer.” Store in a cool place for a few days, after which you have a lovely golden elixir that tastes a bit like ginger beer with a pineapple/marula overtone.

This calls for a celebration! While you wait for this gustatory delight, have a beer with friends and enjoy the day.

Ain’t life great?

** Lots of marula trees in Africa. You need to make plans to visit one of Africa’s marula festivals! Here is probably the best one:

Roughly adapted from and apologies to:    These guys went where the marula grows!

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day on May 12!

World Fair Trade Day is an inclusive worldwide festival of events celebrating fair trade’s contribution to the fight against poverty, exploitation, and climate change. This year for World Fair Trade Day, we are celebrating our commitment to living fair, one product at a time.

Fair Trade
Image credit: Global Village Gifts

You can also live fair by attending one of the many World Fair Trade Day celebrations! A few are highlighted below. See our World Fair Trade Day Calendar for more and/or check in with your local fair trade store!

Drum Circle for World Fair Trade Day |  May 9  | New Smyrna Beach, FL

A Magnificent Mile of Fair Trade  |  May 11  |   Chicago, IL

Fair Trade Shabbat Dinner  |  May 11  |  Philadelphia, PA

Buy Food. Feel Good. Expo  |  May 11-13  |   Toronto, ON

Fair Trade Hudson World Fair Trade Day Celebration  |  May 12  |  Hudson, QC

One World Goods Fair Trade Day Celebration  |  May 12  |  Rochester, NY

NYC Fair Trade Volunteer Day at FABSCRAP  |  May 12  |  New York, NY

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrations  |  May 12  |  OH, MD, PA, DE, NH, MI, & CA

Amazon Fair Trade Crafts at the Delaware Beach  |  May 12  |  South Bethany, DE

Fair Trade Columbus Sip and Shop  |  May 12  |  Columbus, OH

Pachamama Market World Fair Trade Day Celebration  |  May 12  | Troy, OH

Global Gifts Store Celebrations   |  May 12  |  IN & OH

Amani ya Juu World Fair Trade Day Celebration  |  May 12  |  Chattanooga, TN

Global Village Gifts World Fair Trade Day Celebration  |  May 12  | Logan, UT

Peace Exchange World Fair Trade Day Celebration  | May 12  |  Pasadena, CA

For more information, go to:

or write to:

Shocking image of black rhino killed by poachers wins Wildlife Photograph of the Year

A shocking photo of a rhinoceros that was slaughtered for its horns has been named Wildlife Photograph of the Year 2017, reported The Independent.

The image was taken by South African photographer Brent Stirton in the luhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve in north-eastern South Africa.

It shows a black rhino slumped in the mud with a raw, fleshy area where its horns used to be. The animal was shot during the night by poachers who used a gun with a silencer to avoid being detected. They then hacked off the rhino’s two horns, which in some Asian countries have a street value higher than gold or cocaine.

In China and Vietnam, rhino horn, which is actually made of the same material as human toe and finger nails, is believed to cure an wide array of illnesses. Black rhinos are now a critically endangered species, largely because of the illegal trade in their horns. There are thought to be only around 5,000 left in the world.

The image, named Memorial to a Species, is part of a series captured by Mr Stirton. He visited more than 30 sites at which animals had been killed.

He told BBC News: “My first child is going to be born in February; I’m 48. And I think I left it such a long time because I kind of lost faith in a lot of the work we see as photojournalists. You lose faith in humanity to some extent.

“For me to win this, for the jury to acknowledge this kind of picture – it’s illustrative that we are living in a different time now, that this is a real issue. The sixth age of extinction is a reality and rhinos are just one of many species that we are losing at a hugely accelerated rate and I am grateful that the jury would choose this image because it gives this issue another platform.”

Source: Weird
Story first published: 19th October 2017

The small African nation leading the defiance against Trump.

His Excellency President Seretse Ian Khama

Botswana might be home to just 2.2 million people but its leadership punches above its weight in standing up to Donald Trump. Whether responding to his crude comments about Africa or defying him at the United Nations, Botswana has stood taller than many of its bigger African counterparts.

Following Trump’s comments referring mainly to Haiti and African countries as “shithole countries,” Botswana’s government has asked the US ambassador to the country to “clarify” if it’s one of those Trump considers a shithole country. It has also described the comments as “irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”

It’s not the first time Botswana has been stood up to Trump’s America. In December, Botswana kicked against rhetoric from Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, which suggested that action would be taken against countries that voted against the US in the general assembly vote on the status of Jerusalem.

“Botswana will not be intimidated by such threats and will exercise her sovereign right and vote based on her foreign relations principles,” the country’s government noted in a statement. “The threatening and grossly inappropriate communication, whose purpose would be to undermine the sovereignty of Botswana as an independent country, also demonstrates unprecedented diplomacy,” it added.

From: Quartz 12 January 2018

Down, down, down it goes…

…down the bathroom sink, the bathtub/shower drain, the toilet – all those places that we allow the “dirty” water to pour into… ever wonder where that water goes?

For most of us, that water heads for a treatment plant, where – once cleaned – the water heads out to a stream or river or lake. But, the question must be asked: How “clean” is that clean water?

Treatment plants do a great job at removing objects and solids then adds filtering processes to remove small particles. Further treatment with bacteria and chemicals leave the water clean enough to drink directly – supposedly.

But, what exactly is “clean”? What about some of that stuff that goes down drains that may get through all the treatment procedures, e.g., chemicals? Ever wonder about those ingredients in your shampoo? Skin lotion? Bath bar? Makeup?

At present, treatment plants handle many common products found in waste water, but what about other chemicals: dietary supplements, drugs – prescription, over-the-counter,  veterinary – whole and ingested, pesticides, sunscreens, laundry soaps… the list goes on.

That anti-bacteria hand soap? What happens to that? As bacteria are an integral part of the water treatment process, can the anti-bacterials have an adverse effect in our eco-systems? If the chemicals are not removed, what happens to the ecology of our lakes and streams?

One study evaluated the presence of pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic contaminates in 139 streams in 30 states. They found 82 of 95 antibiotics, non-prescription drugs, steroids, and hormones in at least one sample. Eighty percent of streams sampled had more than one contaminant. Seventy-five percent had two or more. Fifty-four percent had more than five, 34% had more than 10 contaminants, and 13% of streams tested positive for more than 20 targeted contaminants.*

And that is just what they were testing for. Who knows what they missed.

Down the drain it goes, where it shows up, no one knows.

*Kolpin, D. W. et al. 2002. Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: A National reconnaissance. Environmental Science and Technology 36(6):1202-1211 in

The Loss of a Gentle and Gifted Man

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of a mentor, friend, and colleague, Willie Alberts.

Willie lost a courageous battle to cancer. His tenacity, incredible spirit, and love of life nearly won the day, but his body was too badly ravaged from drugs and disease.

Willie had been an important part of DLG’s expansion into Botswana. He brought his keen intellect, a remarkable sense of quiet humor, unwavering patience, a plethora of skills, ranging from computers to plumbing, and a perseverance that never quit.

Willie started his career in South Africa as a researcher in  animal husbandry and became a practical agriculturist due to  extensive commercial farming experience. He was also involved in  research working with African indigenous fauna and flora.

He became involved with human resource development and advanced  in a training career within the agricultural disciplines. He  held the post of Rector of a Technical and Agricultural College and became involved in numerous community projects when he joined SAEOPA (Southern Africa Essential Oil Producers Association) in 2000. He had been the primary Agricultural Advisor for the association since then.

Willie had a unbridled love for nature and served as an Honorary Ranger for the South African National Parks, where he had been actively involved in conservation work.

Our condolences to his family, especially to Karen Swanepoel, Willie’s longtime partner.

Willie will be greatly missed.

“People are so difficult. Give me an elephant any day.” – Mark Shand

And now, let us entertain you.. with a fun youtube video and little elephants (the term “little” is relative).

“Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing – if this must come – seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.” – Peter Matthiessen


Ending on a more sober note, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes by poachers in Africa.

“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” – David Attenborough

Marula, Chobe, and Women Guides

We keep trying to talk about marula oil in this blog, but occasionally something comes along that we simply have to share with our readers. This time, it is an article written by Hillary Richard in the travel section of the Aug 27 issue of the New York Times: “The Wonder Women of Botswana Safari.” (Our thanks to Tony Carroll for calling this to our attention.)

Photo credit: Alexander Lahti

This article was intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, Botswana is the country where we harvest and process luxurious marula oil, and the Chobe National Park in Botswana is a true national treasure.

Photo credit: Hillary Richard

Second, Ms Richard speaks at length to this relatively new role of women in Botswana: Park Guide, a profession long dominated by men. Ms. Richard notes: “Guiding in Botswana is a prestigious career. Applicants must complete a standardized course that includes a placement at a safari camp, plus tests to evaluate English skills and scholastic aptitude.”

These women love their jobs. We support all efforts at elevating the status of women everywhere, especially in such challenging and demanding careers.

Chobe Game Lodge. Photo credit: Joao Silva, New York Times

Third, we encourage our readers – their friends and family – to consider traveling to this beautiful country and embarking on a great and memorable adventure: a safari! A number of excellent lodges are available, offering services and facilities that will meet even the highest standards of travelers.

Looking to travel Botswana? We can help. While we do not profess to be travel agents, we can answer questions and get people pointed in the right direction. Just ask.

Maybe we will see you here!

The Story of Marula, Elephants, and Beer

As many bloggers will note, sometimes staying on topic can be difficult. Anyone, who has ever written a paper or a journal, knows to stay on topic. Fortunately, no such rule exists for blogging!

In a previous post… actually previous two posts, we tried to stay focused on marula. DLG sells marula oil to international clients, so we have a particular interest in the subject: What makes marula oil so special? But, as in life, we have those “squirrel!” moments. Something attracts our attention, and off we go!

Photo credit: Ross Couper and Singita Safaris

This time, it was elephants! But, we stayed clear, intent on marula. No great, gray pachyderms would deter us from our appointed rounds. (Actually, elephants and marula do have their own story!)

Our focus this time is the marula fruit itself, the pulp that serves as food for animals and humans. But like many other kinds of fruit, marula can also be fermented. People in southern Africa make a “beer” (“mokhope” or “ubuganu”) from the fresh fruit, although “beer” may be the wrong descriptor. For those of us, who have brewed beer at home, about 4 weeks is required to complete the brewing process.

Not so with marula. We are talking a mere couple of days here. Days, not weeks. In fact, anything past three days is probably too much. After that, the concoction is very potent – even if any is left to drink!

Brewing marula beer is a cultural and social activity, taking place in the first few months of the year when ripe fruit is available… and there is plenty of ripe fruit! Woman peel the fruit, crush the pulp, and remove the stones (similar to plums). (Watch this video for a demonstration.) Water is added in an equal amount to the mash (oh, yes, don’t forget to remove the worms first), which is then left in a covered bucket for…

… one day, maybe two. If you are brave, you might try the three-day beer. Anything past that, fair warning!

After that, it is festival time! One of the biggest is the Limpopo Marula Festival. Out in the villages, however, people sit around in a shady circle, scoop beer from a communal vat, share large pitchers of the brew, and give thanks for fruit, the “mokhope,” and the wonderful, joyous tradition passed from generation to generation.

Now, about the elephants…. Well, maybe next time!

Marula – from Stem to Stern (or root)

Photo credit: Stephen Sporik. Paintings inside Pomongwe Cave.

We noted, in a previous post, a cave in Zimbabwe: Pomongwe cave. When discussing marula, specifically marula oil, bringing a cave into the conversation does not seem relevant. Except that it is from a historical context.

Marula has been part of the African life for centuries. As far back as ten thousand years, and very probably longer, marula has been part of the southern African diet. The fruit is highly nutritious, as are the seed kernels. Inside Pomongwe cave, evidence exists that over twenty million marula fruits were eaten.

Photo credit: Brett Hilton-Batber

The marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) is one of Africa’s treasures. Not only is the fruit so highly valued, but every component of the tree can serve a vital purpose. The tree bears fruit from January through March – give or take several weeks, depending upon location, beginning when the tree reaches seven to ten years of age. Trees continue fruiting into their hundredth year and beyond (at over fifty feet tall, the ancient trees are quite majestic!).

While the fruit itself is important (especially to us here at DLG, and we will discuss it in future posts), Africans have used virtually every part of the tree:  The wood can be carved and the bark made into a dye or brewed into a tonic used as part of a marriage ritual (marula is known as the “marriage tree”). The bark contains antihistamines and is also used to treat fever, malaria, scorpion stings, snake bites, dysentery, and diarrhea.

The “mopane worm” – Saturniidae “Emperor moth” caterpillar. Popular food item in southern Africa. Large numbers of caterpillars can be harvested before the start of the rainy season, dried, and stored. Photo credit: P.A. Hulley.

The inner bark makes rope. Insects – e.g., the large Saturniid caterpillar, a resident of the tree, and the larvae of the cerambycid wood-boring beetle – can be roasted as nutritious treats. (We here are DLG have enjoyed the mopane worm as part of our meal.) The leaves are commonly used to treat heartburn and indigestion.

Marula trees are dioecious, i.e., they have a gender. The Venda believe bark infusions can determine the sex of an unborn child. If a woman wants a son, the male tree is used; a daughter, the female tree. But, if the infusion fails (a child of the opposite sex is born), then the child is designated as very special: he or he defied the spirits.

We cannot forget the roots, which are used for bilharzia (a disease caused by a parasite worm), sore eyes, weakness, and making an alcoholic medicine known as kati.

Finally, the fruit.  Inside the fruit, and held firmly by a concrete hard pit or stone, are one to four seed kernels. These are tasty, protein-rich food sources, and their high oil content makes for a lovely skin cosmetic – and it is the oil that we will focus on in future posts.