By Kaloian Santos Cabrera (Progreso Weekly)
HAVANA TIMES —To mitigate the Cuban heat there is nothing like a sugar cane-grinding machine known as a guarapera and enjoying a cold jug of juice with bits of crushed ice. The juice of the sugar cane is a natural energizer rich in protein and calories (of course, for diabetics, it’ll kill you).
The juice extraction process is a simple act usually done in plain sight. Indeed, part of the guarapera mystique is watching the peeling of the cane and then how it passes through a pair of toothed cylinders of a simple mill that bears the name trapiche. Afterwards the juice is strained to remove bits of pulp, and it is ready to serve.
Special attention should immediately be taken because in just a few minutes the juice begins to turn dark and loses flavor. It is for this reason that companies have not been able to bottle the juice and market it as is done with other alcoholic drinks that are derived from sugar cane.
Although cold guarapo (cane juice) is most popular, some prefer to add a splash of rum to give it a kick. They say that in the early mornings of winter farmers tend to ingest it warm, fresh out of the mill, as an infusion.
Two hundred years ago guaraperas were found exclusively in towns of sugar workers scattered across the island. It was a popular drink during the sugar harvest when workers drank it to confront the long hours of work. Today guaraperas are popular and can be found in fields and towns, since sugar cane is abundant and it is easy to construct a mill.