Our Story

Welcome to our site! We are Joanne & Steve. After 20+ years working for a city school department and police department, we sold almost everything, bought an RV, and started living on the road with our three children. Joanne homeschools and works online.
What we have chosen is to live life as unencumbered as we possibly can and to spend time with our family, for our family, and as a family.
This website is a record of our travels. But, we also hope to educate, entertain, and inform others about RVing, roadschooling, and the great places we visit in this country.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Spicy Trip to The Tabasco Pepper Plant

Today we drove to Avery Island to visit the Tabasco factory.  
The tour consisted of a short talk and a film, with 4 complementary mini-Tabascos each, and a final walk through a glass viewing area of the factory.

We learned a few interesting things today about Steve's favorite condiment.  The Tabasco company was begun by Edmund McIlhenny, whose family name is on the bottle, in the mid- to late-1860s.  He had married an Avery lady, whose family owned Avery Island in Louisiana; a salt mine larger than Mount Everest is tall.

Edmund was given Capsicum frutescens peppers from Mexico or South America and planted them on Avery island.  These peppers, along with the salt from Avery Island, gave birth to Tabasco  Pepper Sauce.
Some interesting tidbits:

  • Some of the barrels the Tabasco plant uses come from the Jack Daniel's company.  Jack Daniel's can only use their barrels once while creating their whiskey.  So, Tabasco takes them over using them anywhere between 3 and 100 years.  When the barrels finally fall apart, they are shredded into wood chips and sold for barbecuing.   

  • The peppers turn three lovely colors; green yellow, orange, until they are ready to be picked when they turn a vibrant red.  Pickers take only those that are ripe.  To help them, pickers carry a stick that is the color of the ripe pepper;  the red stick, or        le bâton rouge.  (The city of Baton Rouge may have been named for a red stick rumored to have been placed there; or for Native American bloodshed.)                                                                     

  • Each barrel of pepper mash, mixed with a bit of Avery Island salt, is fermented for three years.  Large amounts of salt is placed on top of the barrel, under which are holes for gases and juices to exit.  The salt inhibits unwanted items getting into the holes.  The salt then hardens to form a salt puck.

  • Once the mash has fermented it is mixed and stirred with vinegar, continuously, for 28 days.   After straining, any remaining mash might be used for Dentine gum or spiced chocolate.

  • The seeds for all and any pepper plants grown originate from Avery Island, specially chosen.

  • There's also oil in them thar hills.  

  • You pay $1.00 to enter the Avery Island, where private homes are and many of the Avery/McIlhenny family live.

  • There is also a large garden and bird sanctuary on the island.  Edmund started a bird colony to help save the egrets being slaughtered for ladies' hat plumage.

As soon as we exited the truck, we could smell the Tabasco.
Today's batch was heading to Germany.
Schlemiel! Schlimazel!
There is, of course, a gift shop where you can taste all the different types of sauces and condiments Tabasco makes.  Lots of different items to buy, too.  We bought an item or two, and got a free bottle of Buffalo Tabasco Sauce and !

A nice trip, short, but nice.  We left with a greater appreciation of Tabasco Sauce, the sustainability of the company, and the history involved.

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