Recently, we took a look at some of the advantages of silicone yerba mate gourds in this article, we won’t go too deep into the details but some of the points were that they’re easier to clean, and a bit less finicky than natural gourds that are made from a type of squash.
Our friends at Urushop, one of the premiere places to buy yerba mate and accessories online, reached out to us to set us straight (In the nicest way possible!) and to highlight some of the options that are out there when you’re looking for a gourd. They send us a leather-bound gourd made from a hollowed out fruit casino, basically the polar opposite of the silicone-style gourds we had recommended, and the moment you pick it up and try it out, it makes a pretty compelling argument!
These gourds are handmade in Uruguay, and no two are alike. Now, it may be easier to care for a silicone gourd, but sometimes that extra effort is really worthwhile. One of the advantages of a natural gourd like this one is that the flavor from it will actually change over time, as it becomes more cured and as it gets used more.
The Calabaza fruit absorbs the flavor from each cup you enjoy, so in time you’ll have a deeper, richer, and more intricate flavor.
To Cure or Not To Cure?
One of the critiques is that you have to cure the gourd and be a lot more careful with how you wash it, and take great care to ensure that mold doesn’t develop by not leaving it sitting around full of yerba mate and water. You’ll hear different advice when it comes to curing, some say you don’t have to do it at all, some leave it sitting full of yerba mate for a lot longer, it’s all across the spectrum.
Here’s some tips about curing your gourd from Urushop’s blog:
- Start by removing any little pieces of debris inside the gourd, but not the little bud at the bottom. There may be seeds, that’s fine.
- Wash your gourd with water, never use soap. Think of it kind of like cast-iron frying pan.
- You can rinse around some salt on the inside (some people use lemon juice, too). This step is optional.
- Cure it by filling it with either older, used leaves or new ones that you’ve soaked in water a bit first. Urushop recommends not actually filling the gourd and letting it soak in water, just use the wet leaves, as the water can cause gourds to crack.
- After a few hours, remove the leaves, let it dry and you’re all set! (More info here.)
Some people don’t cure at all, they figure that it happens on its own after you start to use it anyways. Either way, it’s good to do the first few steps, rinsing it out, giving it a good clean (no soap!),
Advantages of natural over a silicone gourd
Just holding it feels better in your hands, it’s something about the fact that it’s made from a fruit, from leather, from metal… rather than something less natural. Beyond that, some people really enjoy how the gourd “ages”, changing the flavors over time, its like every single drink you’ve had from it leaves a piece of itself in the gourd, plus the leather over time will also age and get a really nice patina. In time, the inside of the gourd will darken. It’s like an on-going process, a journey you take with your gourd, and you can’t really replicate the experience of authenticity with a silicon gourd.
This particular gourd sells for £17.99 and can be found here.