How Rattan Basket Have Been Used to Ferment Bread?

Rattan basketry is a traditional handicraft practiced by the Batak people of North Sumatra. The Batak are known to be excellent basket makers and rattan, which was imported from the Phillipines centuries ago, is a popular choice because of its strength.

The baskets used for fermentation were originally woven from palms in longhouse villages, however they are today mostly made of rattan and originate from villages outside the traditional longhouses.

In order to turn dough into a fermented product, it needs enzymes that help with breaking down starch into sugar. This is why bread from dough made with yeast or sourdough can be eaten right away without waiting for fermentation. The process usually takes between 5 and 30 hours. To prevent mold growth, the baskets are covered in a cloth to retain their temperature and humidity.

Because the process needs its own environment an airtight seal is important to ensure fermentation does not stop midway during the day. “Biasa” means “totally sealed” in Malay, so it was customary to have rattan baskets tightly wrapped with a cloth so there would be no moisture or air leakage. This helped prevent mold growth, which would otherwise occur very quickly inside the basket making it unsuitable for storing food.

These baskets are also used for storage. They are known to last up to 10 years, even after regular use and washing. Food stored in them remains fresh for a long time and the baskets can be reused. After a few years the cloth might get stained or torn and this is the time when it needs to be replaced, otherwise bacteria could start growing inside.

Rattan baskets are excellent containers for storing rice or keeping it dry. They also keep food warm during cooking as they do not conduct heat as much as plastic containers do. This makes rattan baskets an attractive option for hot meals or soups that need to be cooked in large amounts at one time.

Rattan baskets comes in different sizes and shapes , allowing for a wide range of uses. At their smallest, they are used as food containers to be carried around. Larger baskets are commonly used in the kitchen as a storage container or for holding ingredients during food preparation. The larger ones can also be used as a bathtub, but they need to be disinfected after use because of their warm and humid environment, which is ideal for bacteria growth.

There are many ways these baskets can be decorated, and artisans try to add unique touches to make their products more attractive. Some have patterns woven into them with intricate designs that represent the life cycle of the Batak people, from birth to death and every step in between.

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