Originally Posted by mdautry
As to Troy, talking about Molle or Chicha de Molle... In Huanta a very refined Chicha de Molle is made with red seeds from the Molle tree, the hangovers are so widely known that it is a thing of legend in South America.
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Yep... Schinus Molle is what's called a pepper tree here in SoCal. They grow fast, they grow to be huge, and they have a nasty habit of getting hollow and brittle in their old age, and going down in windstorms. A 65 year old pepper tree snapped in my yard a couple of months ago, and completely blocked the street seventy feet away. It took me a week to cut it up and feed all the small stuff through a chipper/shredder. Could've been a lot worse; it was leaning towards the house and the wind took it the other way instead.
Pepper trees aren't related to the vine that produces black pepper, but the dried berries grind, smell and taste surprisingly like peppercorns. When you buy the little pepper grinders pre-loaded with various colored peppercorns, the pink ones are usually either Schinus Molle or Schinus Terebinthifolius, a shrubby close relative.
Apparently the traditional way to make chicha molle was to rub off the thin layer of soft pulp off the seeds before the ripe berries dried, and ferment it. Which could be labor-intensive; imagine how many berries the size of a peppercorn you have to rub to get enough pulp for a gallon of chicha. I've read that archaeologists believe some cultures reserved it for royalty.
Surprisingly, traditional chicha molle was supposedly a light, delicately flavored drink. That makes me wonder if the chicha molle you're talking about is something else, perhaps flavored with the molle berries.
Anyway, my remaining trees are probably loaded with fresh berries right now. Unfortunately I work out of town, haven't been home for a month, and may not get there for another month. So the chicha molle may get added to the list of projects awaiting me when I retire next year.