It is a “sole bare-ing”experience, which you get only in Goa — to stomp cashews, that is. During the harvest, Cashew Feni distilleries stretching from Pernem to Polem and Valpoi to Velsao still make Feni the time honored way – daily squishing tonnes of cashew apples between their toes.
Goa being the only place in the world where Cashew Feni is produced,there is always an opportunity to lend a hand, or rather, a foot, a told-fashioned cashews stomping at harvest season — generally late March through to early May.
Cashew Feni purists, believe that Feni distilled from juice that has been stomped, is by far the best. Some believe that the days when juice extraction was done by the foot are numbered. Cashew stomping is a relatively gentle way of managing the process of crush, now often replaced with mechanical pulpers and the hydraulic press. The trick is not to shred the fruit the cashews, rather to gently squeeze it open so the juices are expressed without releasing the acidic sap that is not desirable. But even though they may have the latest in gleaming cashew press technology- Pinjre, parked at their Colmbi-stomping pit, a number of distilleries still practice the retro charm of stomping cashews in this fast changing Goa.
Imagining dainty maidens doing the stomping? Allow me to break that bubble. It’s usually hairy muscular male legs that are employed for the stomp.It’s certainly not only a skill, but it takes a bit of endurance and balance toget into Colmbi and start stomping around.
If you think Stomping probably would lend your fine Feni with notes of “smelly feet”, its probably because your own feet smell. Thankfully the alcohol produced during fermentation kills all the germs, and if you are still not convinced then the distillation will most certainly do the trick.
Stepping on a few basket loads of bursting-ly ripe cashews feels weirdly exciting, especially since it is squishy. Actually loads of fun, until the next load of cashews is dumped!
The tradition of stomping has lived on ever since the first Feni was distilled centuries ago. This season if you haven’t as yet, kick off those shoes and step into the Colmbi– let the tradition live on!