Tabasco Pepper Sauce

Monday Morning, day 4 of our road trip, we set out in search of the Tabasco Sauce Factory at Avery Island, Louisiana.  I turned right where I should have turned left. This gave us a chance to tour some Louisiana farmland. :)

After the detour, we came upon a toll both at which we were asked to pay a $1 toll to enter Avery Island. We were given a pass to the island, instructed to pay close attention to the signs and stay out of places marked private, and were directed to the factory tours.

Avery Island Entrance Pass

Sign directing us to the Tabasco factory tours and country store

The Tabasco Visitor's Center

Inside the Visitors Center we were each given a few small sample bottles of Tabasco sauce and shown a short film about the history and production of Tabasco sauce. You can see some of the material in this film in an episode of the Discovery Channel's How It's Made: Tabasco.

At a high level, the procedure for turning peppers into Tabasco pepper sauce is:

  1. Hand-pick peppers matching the color painted on a little red stick
  2. On the same day as harvesting, grind the peppers and mix them with salt to create a pepper 
  3. Put the mash in oak bourbon barrels
  4. Seal the barrels and cover the top with salt
  5. Put the barrels in a warehouse
  6. Wait 3 long years for the peppers to ferment
  7. Remove the salt from the top of the barrels
  8. Open the barrels
  9. Mix the fermented peppers with vinegar
  10. Stir for 27 days.
  11. Extract the pepper pulp and seeds
  12. Test the sauce that remains after removing the pulp and seeds
  13. Bottle the sauce

After the film, we were paraded by big windows offering a look into their bottling operation.

The Visitors Center also contained a some exhibits on the advertising of Tabasco and a vat of Tabasco peppers and vinegar in the process of being stirred for nearly four weeks. 

After the free introduction to Tabasco, we were directed to the Tabasco Country Store to peruse and buy all things Tabasco. 

Now, I love Tabasco sauce. I put the stuff on nearly everything. Years ago, my home office was decorated in Tabasco sauce motif. I even own one of almost every Tabasco toy and collectible die-cast race car produced during the one year that they sponsored a NASCAR team -- dozens of them.  Letting me enter a store filled with things Tabasco might be dangerous to my wallet.  I exercised some self-control and stopped myself after buying about $100 of pepper sauces. ;)

Before moving on, we snacked on some boudin (a cajun sausage-like thing made of rice and pork) drowned in Tabasco sauce.  Good stuff.

Upon returning to the car, I realized we'd left the hitchhikers locked in the car on a hot morning. They were a bit wilted, but recovered once I got the AC flowing again.