Before we left Iberia this morning we stopped at Avery Island for a tour of the Tabasco Factory. The factory runs 4 days a week and bottles 770,000 of Tabasco each day. They sell their sauces in 122 countries. Even the Queen of England uses Tabasco. Today they were bottling for France. On the tour we met a really nice young couple from Cornwall, England. The English guy quipped sarcastically that France really needed the sauce. You can't imagine the "spicy fragrance" in the air.
Tabasco provides seeds to countries in Central and South America where the peppers are grown. Pickers determine the peppers are ripe by comparing them to a stick painted the EXACT color of the ripe peppers. Once picked the peppers are chopped, mixed with a little salt and poured into giant shipping bags. The bags containing the pepper mash are shipped to Avery Island where the mash is poured into used Johnny Walker barrels. The barrels are sealed and then salt is packed on top of the lid. The barrels are then stored for 3 years. During storage the pepper mash off gases around the lid, the salt seal prevents anything from getting in. When the mash is ready, pure white vinegar is added, the mixture is stirred for 24 hours and the Tabasco is ready for bottling.
Salt for the process is mined from a salt dome on Avery Island. They estimate the salt dome extends some 27,000 beow ground. Right now they're at 1,500 feet so they have a ways to go.
The best part of the tour was the country store. Just loaded with Tabasco cool stuff. We even tried Louisianna Boudin. This is a sausage with lots of meat and rice and spices. I thought it was kind of bland but Maggie loved it!
On the drive to New Orleans we traveled across the most unusual bridge I've ever seen. At the top, the bridge is only about 3 cars wide. This bridge is literally, straight up and straight down. Weird.