In Latin America the gourd is described as having a memory. The gourd flavors the Yerba Mate with its previous experiences. Many drinkers consider the Gourd to have a "soul" that contributes to the Yerba Mate Ritual. People will collect different gourds, each adding its own contribution to the experience.
Although traditional gourds can be immediately used and cure naturally with use, it is recommended to cure your gourd before use. Curing will improve the taste and strengthen the gourd. Wood gourds need no curing (with the exception of palo santo wood gourds). Here are some simple curing instructions:
Your goal is to cure the gourd so that the water no longer penetrates the gourd. Any natural product that takes on water is going to take on character. Do not become concerned with bubbles or color distortions, they are a natural part of the curing process that will help to develop the character of your gourd.
This slow and gentle curing process will help strengthen the soft, light palo santo wood. Before beginning the curing process, it is highly recommended to apply generous amounts of a food safe oil, such as coconut or olive oil, to the inside and outside of the gourd. Wipe off excess oil and continue to apply every few days when you notice the gourd drying out. Continue this process for one to two weeks, then begin the curing process below:
Fill gourd halfway with yerba mate. Add warm, NOT hot, water and fill to top. Leave overnight.
Keep the yerba mate in the gourd while draining excess water out. Add hot, NOT boiling, water and fill to top. Leave overnight.
Keep the yerba mate in the gourd and drain excess water again. Add boiling water and fill to top. Leave overnight.
Clean out gourd and let dry.
***It is recommended to apply oil in between use to ensure that the moisture continues to permeate throughout the gourd.