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Monday, November 15, 2010

Sotol (Desert Spoon)

Sotol Spoons Drying

An extremely useful plant to man, sotol has been used to make temporary structures, corrals, roofs, baskets, mats, ropes, tool, liquor ("sotol"), cattle feed during drought, and food for humans.

The base of a cooked sotol stem may be eaten rather like an artichoke leaf (by scraping across the front teeth). This remnant, called a "quid", resembles a spoon and can be used as one. Archaeological sites where "Desert Spoon" was eaten in this way are full of discarded quids thousands of years old.

Sotol and lechuguilla flower-stalks used as atlatl dart hind-shafts were found in Ceremonial Cave (Hueco Mountains, near El Paso, Texas). Sotol may also have been affiliated with fire because the sotol stem was used as a fire-plow.

The Desert Spoon typically grows on rocky slopes in the Chihuahuan desert grassland between 3,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level. Unlike the Agave, which flower only once in their lifetime, Sotols produce a flower stalk every few years.

Once the plant matures, it is harvested similar to Agave plants when making Mezcal or Tequila. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the center core, which is taken back to the distillery. The core can then be cooked and/or steamed, shredded, fermented, and distilled. The core can be baked and eaten as is or dried and pounded into flour to make bread or gruel.

The above figure shows the different size spoons that can be made from the base of the sotol leaf (quid). The spoons shown in the diagram are in the drying stage and will require more work. To make the spoon the length and shape are cut and most of the debris is removed. The spoons are allowed to dry for about three weeks. During that time shrinkage and color change occur.

The curled edges of the spoon are then reshaped the body is sanded and scraped and then polished for to be sold, traded or used.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


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