I was in primary school in the 90’s when Pito somehow became such popularly hawked Street drink. Mobil busstop at Oluyole in Ibadan always had at least 3 Pito sellers. Hawking their drinks to school children at closing time.
Of course buying street foods or drinks was outrightly forbidden by mum. She always packed our lunch and only approved of biscuits if we ever needed to buy snacks. I had a classmate Dayo who was huge sucker for Pito, she bought it daily! And was generous to share. *winks*😁.
I’ve learnt that Pito is also called Asana in Ghana and there is also the alcoholic version of this. The Pito i have recreated for this post is non alcoholic and it’s the version I remember that was hawked in the streets.
Pito is made with grains. Essentially you can use Corn, or Sorghum or Millet or Guinea corn… or a combination of grains. Asana in Ghana is mostly made with corn and white corn is favoured for the production. I decided to use Millet. (At the time of making this post I’ve started another batch from corn). Though the prep time is long, the ingredients for making Pito/Asana are basic! As a matter of fact, once you have the powdered grains in store, you can make Pito anytime you want.
- Guinea Corn (Sorghum)
For this batch I used 5 Cups of Guinea Corn ( it became 6½ cups after malting and grinding)
- Wash grains thoroughly, remove debris and stones.
- Soak the grains in water for 48 – 72 hrs (I soaked for 72hrs)
- Rinse fermented grains and spread out in lined basket or colander. I lined with kitchen paper towel, because it holds moisture.
- Cover with cellophane or a kitchen towel and keep in a warm corner of your kitchen.
- Spritz or sprinkle with water everyday.
- At Day 2 the grains where already sprouted
- At Day 5, the grains were sprouted sufficiently.
- This process of germinating the grains is called Malting
- Spread the sprouted grains out to dry. The weather has been hot, so these were very dry in 4 days, I sunned it for 5 days.
- Blend dried malted grains into coarse powder. You can use your blender or take to a mill.
- Store the powder in an airtight container.
*Pito gets its characteristic dark colour from this syrup.*
- In a clean dry pot, add 2 cups of sugar
- Cook without water on medium heat and allow the sugar melt and caramelise.
- Stir lightly till you get a deep brown colour as indicated in the pictorial.
- Endeavour not to burn your sugar or else it would be bitter, the taste you are trying to achieve is between nutty and toasty.
- Add 2 cup hot water to the caramel syrup to melt it down. If you add cold water, it will crystallize. Turn the heat off and let it cool down.
- 3 cups malted Guinea corn powder
- 6 litres room temperature water
- 3 cups sugar
- 2.5 cups browned sugar syrup
- Add 3 cups of powdered grains to 6 litres of water in a clean pot.
- Boil for 1 hour on medium heat. It has a tendency to froth and spill into the fire, so keep an eye on it. I left a clean wooden ladle in the pot to stop it from frothing over.
- Once boiled for an hour, add browned sugar syrup into the slurry, stir properly and strain.
- Strain using a metal mesh and cheese cloth (the fabric we use to seive Ogi/Akamu/Koko)
- Add 3 cups of sugar (you could use more or less or sweetener of your choice)
- Leave to cool completely and serve with ice.
*Although not traditional ingredients for Pito/Asana, I added cloves and a little ginger to a cup of Pito and I must say it tasted so so good. I recommend it*
Enjoy your Pito