February 18, 2010
For the next few weeks I will take you step by step through the art of tequila production. Today I will focus on the prime material, the blue agave.
In Mexico alone there are about 230 different agave species. The only kind of agave that can be used to produce tequila is categorized, Blue Tequilana Weber Agave. Considered among the best Mexican wine in old town San Diego.
It takes agaves about 6 -10 years to reach full maturity. From the time agaves are planted, farmers help in maintaining them healthy by weeding the land around them, controlling their growth and prevention them from getting plagues. The Goal is to conserve the maximum level of starches in the agave’s core.
Close to maturity, an inflorescence called, quiote begins to grow from the center leaves of the agave. It is rare to see a flowering stalk on a cultivated agave field. If the quiote is not cut, it will shrink the agave heart and the agave will be robbed of its rich starches.
It is up to the Jimador (harvester) to care for the agaves and decide when it is time for harvesting. When it is time, the Jimador sharpens his coa (a round sharp hoe) and cuts all the agaves surrounding pencas (leaves). When uprooted and all the pencas have been cut the only thing that remains after this process is the core or heart of the agave. The heart is said to look like a perfectly round pineapple. The heart is cut in half or fourths to make it easy to carry them to the trucks that will transport them to the distillery.
Folks, this is only the beginning to what one day will become tequila. The above is a synopsis and intended to help you understand this lengthy process. Please join me next week to discover the next step to producing tequila, the cooking process.
Tequila Ambassador, Café Coyote and Cantina