When I was in Shivamogga district in the North-Eastern part of Karnataka, I came across this tiny village that me and my friends were just walking around in and came across a house where a few ladies were having a nice banter while doing some chores. The curious cat in me just walked in with their permission and that’s when I saw that, that was a house where they were processing Areca Nut!
I am sure everyone of you, at least those in South East Asia have all either tasted Areca nut also known as betel nut (No! This is not a beetle’s nut) or seen someone eat it. I for one have never seen any typical Indian gathering where there was no platter of Areca nut placed for the guests to munch on. But have you ever wondered how this was made? Fear not! I have the answer to this multi-million dollar question (Yes, you are welcome).
So Areca Nut grows on trees (Unlike money!) which start yielding from its 7th year till about 40 years. They are mainly grown in tropical regions. The harvesting of the fruit is done by skilled climbers who separate the fruit from the tree and drop them down, which is then caught by someone standing below. The catcher usually tastes the fruit and lets the climber know if it is worth plucking the rest of the fruits on the trees.
Once these bunches are all collected, the fruit is then separated individually out from the bunch and tanscported to a place where they are then processed. And this is the important part
Each fruit is peeled by someone to extract the Kernel. his is an extensively laborious process. As people will go through 800-900Kgs of fruits to pull out the kernel manually. Right after they are pulled out, all the kernel will be boiled at high temperature for about 12 hours!
The last step is to then sun dry the Areca nut for a minimum of 7 days and then they are packed and ready to be sold.
Simple isn’t it? While there aren’t any complicated procedures it sure is a very hard manual process, especially the peeling. Watching the ladies do it with a smile throughout, chit chatting with each other about daily life, was a refreshing experience.