Dec. 1, 2002 – Easily recognized by its frothy foam bubbling out of a longneck glass bottle, maubi is a bittersweet beverage made from the bark of the maubi tree that is especially favored around Christmastime.
Yeast gives the drink its fermented appeal, and a variety of herbs and spices — including cinnamon, cloves, sweet marjoram, rosemary and dried orange peel (as well as Angostura bitters and anise on some islands) — imparts its distinctive taste.
You'll also see this drink's name spelled "mauby" and "maubey." Local lore has it that maubi not only tastes good but also lowers cholesterol, acts as a diuretic and is an aphrodisiac. But if you like maubi, the flavor alone is reason enough to cook some up.
Maubi is one drink that you won't find any time you want it in the drink case at the grocery store. It's a homemade beverage, and makers have their own recipes. And once you make a batch, you might find more than a few friends at your door.
As with making sourdough bread, people who make their own maubi usually keep a "starter" from one batch to carry on their recipe to the next. From there, the quantities of spices and sugar vary by individual preference.
Find some maubi bark, or buy it at the market, and make you own with the recipe that follows.
Virgin Islands Maubi
(Adapted from native recipes, University of the Virgin Islands, Cooperative Extension Service)
4 (3-inch) strips maubi bark
1 oz. (2 tablespoons) sweet marjoram
1 oz. (2 tablespoons) anise
1 oz. (2 tablespoons) rosemary
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
5 quarts water
3 pounds sugar
2 pinches granular yeast
Make "bitters" by boiling maubi bark, marjoram, anise, rosemary, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and orange peel in one quart of water for 5 to 10 minutes. Cool. Fill another container with 4 quarts of water; sweeten with sugar. Add the bitters, and then toss mixture with a ladle. When it begins to foam, add yeast.
Strain through a clean cloth and bottle. Set aside overnight to age and ferment. Save some as a "starter" for your next maubi making.
Makes 6 quarts, or 24 cups. Per cup (nutrient analysis approximate since information for maubi is unavailable): 220 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 2 mg sodium.
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