February 25, 2010
In last week’s blog, I wrote about the cultivation and harvesting of the blue agave. Today I will write about the next step to tequila production, the cooking process.
Once at the distillery the agave hearts are placed in ovens to be steam cooked. The purpose of cooking the agave hearts is to hydrolyze the sugars and then make them soluble, since the inulin is not very soluble in water and it can’t be fermented in a direct way. The most common types of ovens used today are masonry and autoclaves. It takes approximately 48 hours for the agave hearts to be cooked in masonry ovens compared to about 18 hours in autoclaves (steam pressure cookers).
The cooking process is crucial to the final product. Many veteran producers believe that patience is key to producing quality tequila. Though autoclaves speed up the process it this does not mean that bad quality tequila will be the result if this type of oven is selected for production. Many modern tequila companies use autoclaves today and have proven that they can produce superb tequilas. Selecting ripe agaves and having the passion for making quality tequila is the base for producing great tequila.
After the agaves have been cooked they will them go into a milling process so that their sweet sugars can be extracted. Join me next week to examine, the third step to tequila production: The milling process…
Come by this Thursday for “Tequila Thursday”. I will be available to talk to you in detail about your favorite tequila or introduce you to one of my favorites. Each week we feature new tequila to keep the spirit alive. Try our tequila paring dinner for only $ 25.00.
Mario Marquez, Tequila Ambassador
Café Coyote y Cantina