The alcoholic beverage parakari, a unique fermentation product of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) by the Wapisiana of Guyana, involves the use of a starch-hydrolyzing (amylolytic) mold (Rhizopus sp., Mucoraceae, Zygomycota) followed by a solid-state ethanol fermentation. A detailed study was made of the parakari manufacturing process in the Wapisiana village of Aishalton, South Rupununi, Guyana. Thirty steps were involved in parakari manufacture and these exhibited a high degree of sophistication, including the use of specific cassava varieties, control of culture temperature, and boosting of inoculum potential with purified starch additives. During the fermentation process, changes in glucose content, pH, taste, smell, and culture characteristics were reported for the fermenting mash. Parakari is the only known example of an indigenous New World fermentation that utilizes an amylolytic mold. Manufacture of parakari is analogous to similar dual fermentations of the Orient, yet independently derived.
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Vol. 58 • No. 1