PRODUCTION OF TEQUILA

PRODUCTION OF TEQUILA: Harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, unchanged by modern farming technologies, and stretching back hundreds of years. The agave is planted, tended, and harvested by hand. The men who harvest it, the "jimadores", possess generations of knowledge about the plants and the ways in which they need to be harvested. The jimadores must be able to work swiftly in the tight rows, pull out the hijuelos (Agave offspring) without damaging the mother plant, clear the piñas (Spanish for pineapples), and decide when each plant is ready to be harvested . Too soon and there are not enough sugars, too late and the plant will have used its sugars to grow a quiote (20–40 foot high stem), with seeds on the top that are then scattered by the wind. The piñas, weighing 40 to 70 pounds, are cut away with a special knife called a coa. They are then shredded, their juices pressed out and put into fermentation tanks and vats. Some tequila companies still use the traditional method (artisanal) in which the piñas are crushed with a Tahona (stone wheel). The musto, (Agave juice, and sometimes the fiber) is then allowed to ferment in either wood or stainless steel vats for several days to convert the sugars into alcohol. Each company keeps its own yeast a closely guarded secret

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