Indianomics
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Sugarcane juice made from wooden machine, the old way

Sugarcane juices made of canes from such farms
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Yesterday as I was walking in Vashi on the way to meet a friend. While on the way I saw this wooden machine that extracts sugarcane juice. Obviously surprised, since it is something I have never seen before. This device is manually operated, with more than 95% of the motor made of wood.

As I was walking through the by-lanes to go somewhere, I saw them. It was a boon for me on a hot and humid day, with no other shops in the area to quench my thirst. I had one glass of the juice, and I should tell you that it was the best Sugarcane juice I had ever had in Mumbai.

Best sugarcane juice, ever!

The centerpiece crushes the canes in-between and extracts the sweet nectar when the axle is rotated. In fact, this is a complete retro way of making the sugarcane juice, with the machine hosted on a wooden cart, with wheels to boot!

The sugarcane juice is available with ice as well, however I would not recommend it. The ice used by many such shops and stalls or moving machines like these is not made of purified water. It also ruins the original taste. You would not add ice to a glass on wine, would you?

The couple who operates the wooden sugarcane juice machine
The couple who operates the wooden sugarcane juice machine

 

You will often only find Sugarcane Juice stalls operating the cane crushing jaws using an electric motor. In the place where I live, there are around seven of them as I remember and I had been at each of these shops.

All these stores use the latest crushers which are an operated by electric motors. They also add a small bell around the cylinders, traditionally tied around the neck of the bull (the workhorse). Every time you hear the bell ringing, you know a sugarcane juice stall is around the corner.

Hence, to find a new, but old way of extracting the juice was refreshing to see and experience. Of course, the vintage appeal should increment the whole feeling, and it does. The taste is something that will remember for years to come!

Reliving memories

I was able to relate the taste of my childhood days going to ‘Aaraatu,’ a traditional mela in my hometown Alleppey, in December every year. As kids, we all used to flock there and buy popcorn and black sugar canes and eat it rather than drinking the juice, a luxury in those days.

The chunks were cut painstakingly by my father once we are back home. It was a celebration as a kid, and every year I used to look forward to visiting the mela. How exciting isn’t it? The humble sugarcane juice can remind you of happiest of your memories from the past!

The family tradition

I interacted with the husband-wife who operated this wonder engine. The couple is from Allahabad, and wooden Sugarcane juice machines are still prevalent in those areas. It is a tedious job, and they love doing it. It is tiresome because the couple has done all the pushing.

The machine in their hometowns operates with the help of bulls. These bulls walk around, with bells around their neck making them ring. They work the lever, which helps crushes the canes to extract the juices between two cylinders.

The husband says it is their family tradition, and that they would try to do as long as they can. He does not think the future generation will keep the tradition alive. Are the days gone when something advanced makes you love the tradition even more?

Kudos to the couple, who are doing their best to bring the tradition to the cities like ours.

Update: You can see such machines in Maharastra as well, specifically Devlali, Nashik, and around Shirdi.

The exotic taste of Sugar cane

Sugarcane Juice Machine, completely made of wood except for nails and bearings extracts the sweetest juice I have ever tasted.
Sugarcane Juice Machine, completely made of wood except for nails and bearings extracts the sweetest juice I have ever tasted.

 

For Rs. 7 a glass, this was undoubtedly the best Sugar Cane Juice I have ever had. It may be the wood, or the cane itself; I may never know. One thing is for sure, some of the best tasteful experiences I have enjoyed in a long time are the ones made traditionally. The modern advancement does not provide the same essence to the food or the juice in this case, like the old one.

Add to it, the exclusivity of rarely seeing the wooden Sugarcane juice machine is the most redefining luxury moment for me. Something that even my parents have not experienced, given how old this process and the tool has been!

Kudos to the couple, who are doing their best to bring the tradition to the cities like ours.

Edit: Updated the article to reflect improved grammar, post framing and of course, the full resolution pictures.

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