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Making Tabasco
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We visited Avery Island this weekend. It's the place in Louisiana where all the Tabasco sauce in the world gets made.

The processing plant is on a kind of marshy island, and it contains a wildlife refuge as well. When you get out of the car, the smell of Tabasco sauce hits you, even if they aren't bottling that day (we went on a Sunday, when they weren't).

The girl that gave the first part of the tour read the lines off of notebook paper. Then we saw two short videos, which were pretty slick, but were mostly advertising for Tabasco sauce. We did learn that the bulk of the peppers are grown in Central and South America, mostly to spread out the crop to reduce failures in disease and insect infestation. Massively low labor costs in those regions has little to do with it, I'm sure (wink, wink).

The peppers are picked when they reach a certain ripeness, and then they're mashed up, mixed with salt (there's a salt mine on the island as well), and put into wooden barrels to age for 3 years. After 3 years, the mash is mixed with vinegar, bottled, and then shipped all over the world.

In the gift shop afterward, we sampled ice cream flavored with jalapeno and also (I think) Tabasco. I didn't like either. They also had samples of various sauces, including Teriyaki and habanero (which was extremely hot).

Anyway, it was pretty interesting. You should stop by if you're down in these parts.

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