Have you ever wanted to know more about the wonderful and versatile calabash? I am working on making some for our online store, and am sharing traditional and alternative ways to prepare them for the purpose of creating a functional art piece of your own.
1: Find a good calabash tree. You want to find a tree that has calabash on them. Make sure to knock on the calabash and 'hear' if it sounds hard and firm. Press it in hard on the surface to see if it has any 'give'. If you can push it in at all, it is not ready. The calabash will be very thin, can bend and easily break. Let it stay on the tree to fully mature. The calabash should NOT have a lot of black lines or markings on them. When you see black spots that are rough this can indicate worms inside. These worms create built up areas inside the calabash that are solid and hard to remove. When you remove these areas, there are holes left from where the worm worked its way inside. Choose a very clean and smooth calabash. Twist it off the branch and carry in a bag where it will not get scratched up. Do not deplete the tree of all the calabash.
2. Cutting the calabash (warning - calabash stains the skin and your hands will be black/grey for days if you dont wear gloves. / anything the stain touches will be dyed)
After decades of working with calabash I find a hacksaw to be my favorite tool to cut it with. I create a line with the hacksaw lightly around the area I want to cut. It can be drawn on if you want. The easiest way to hold calabash and cut it without scratching the green surface (this leaves dark lines on it that will be permanent) is to cut/saw the calabash on some cardboard with it held between your feet. Keep turning the calabash as you cut it all the way around following your line.
3. Removing the pulp This part is crucial and is where the hard work comes in. Or not, - as I discovered some years ago through a mistake that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The calabash is usually scraped out after cutting removing all the pulp and seeds. This is done with a large spoon which can be sharpened with a file for easier scraping. If every part of flesh is not scraped out the black stain residue will remain on your bowls inside surface. It takes an awful lot of scraping to not see any black stain. Till your hands are tired. BUT - i have found a better way than scraping the calabash. I left some out after they ware cut with the pulp still inside, and had to leave them for four or so days unattended. When i returned I assumed the inside would be ruined with the flesh having turned very black after being exposed to light. I was going to throw them away, but tried to scrape out one anyway. I saw it was very dry, and could pull away the flesh from the inside surface in one whole piece. Just put the spoon between flesh and inside edge and pull it off. The inside surface was totally clean and had NO black stain on it at all. This is now the way I remove the flesh. I leave it in a dry and sunny area, wait for the pulp to be black and dry, then pull it out. It produces a very clean stain free calabash without all the hard work.
STAY POSTED FOR PART TWO : The Design
Checking out San San beach in Portland yesterday, a beach that is beautiful but unfortunately charges money to enter. $700JA ($7US) Took Jwyanza, my friends son, to show him where he can take tourists out to view marine life. Jamaica Naturally encourages locals to be pro-active in creating their own jobs through the natural talents they possess, along with the islands natural resources.
Jywanza is a gifted young man, who is a great swimmer and also really motivated to progress in life. I have known his family for over 3 decades. He attends the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf in Kingston. He comes home to Portland on weekends and holidays, giving him an opportunity to make money through doing what he loves, to help pay school and boarding fees. He can be contacted directly on FB through this link. https://www.facebook.com/jwyanza.murdock?fref=ts He was born deaf, and has not let this stop him in any way to achieve. He is one of the star players on the school soccer team, loves fishing and swimming, and spending time in nature.
This was the first time he has gone a good distance out into calm sea, that was fairly deep at times, around 20-30 ft. Was my first time too. It was a beautiful experience. We saw a very big sting ray, lots of tropical fish, corals and sea urchins.
The University of the West Indies does research work at San San and the fish are everywhere,. They seem to have no problem with people swimming around them. Sea urchins (kina) black and white are in shallow areas among the seaweed, and in the rock crevices. Jamaican's do not eat kina, (at least I haven't met anyone that has or would so far). I have never eaten it, or collected it before. We put some in a bag and I unsuccessfully tried to get to the 'roe', the edible orange part of it. Thinking of all my kiwi friends in New Zealand who would be in kina heaven if they came to Jamaica..
I want to thank the wonderful staff at San San beach who were so positive and helpful to us, and also let Jwyanza know they support everything he is trying to do in order to advance in life. We had an amazing time. Please contact Jwyanza if you are interested in snorkeling in Portland, or just want to say hi.
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beautiful day here in Long Bay Portland. Taking a time out to get that good sun and sea water in the locks, skin and soul within.. Students go back to school tomorrow after easter break, which means the crazy mini bus drivers are back in full effect, Risking lives in and out of the vehicles they commandeer. That means steer clear. A few youngsters enjoying the calm sea before heading back.
Great to see my fishermen friends made it back safely to shore. With a big barracuda in tow. Definitely not feeling like a fish out of water. Not feeling a thing actually.. Aaah - a so it go in Jamaica..... survival of the fittest.
These brothers are some truly talented and brave individuals who for years have ventured out to sea providing for themselves and their families. Jamaica Naturally is a self-sustainability initiative, and we are providing an outlet for individuals to continue to help themselves through natural endeavors.. Less spearfishing is a great thing for marine life in Jamaica, so they offer snorkeling trips as a way to lessen the effects of overfishing, while still providing an income.
If you or friends are visiting Jamaica - Markey, Ricky and Damion are three longtime friends of mine from Long Bay you can hire, to safely snorkel in the calm, clear Caribbean Sea and experience the gorgeous tropical marine life. US$20 an hour per person ($50 for 3 hrs) to have a personal guide with you who knows the waters extremely well, All the fishermen are licensed and hold current permits. Here are their FB links - please contact them directly - no middleman - .and contribute to empowering coastal communities in Jamaica that truly need it. We provide a waiver for you to sign before undertaking any physical activities.
Ricky - please contact Marky or Damion for Ricky's info