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Avery Island / Tabasco


Jason Perlow
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Click here for Tabasco's website.

TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory General Information

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-4pm, Closed major holidays

Admission: 50¢ toll fee to enter Avery Island <-- click for directions

Phone: 337-365-8173

Most everything at the store pictured below is available online.

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Edited by Rachel Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I'm glad we went to the Tabasco tour, even though it was less in depth than we expected. Basically, it starts with a short talk and a walk past displays of past marketing and packaging for Tabasco. Then they show you a short movie on the history and process for making Tabasco sauce. Then you walk past the bottling facility, behind a glass wall, like the workers are zoo animals. Then you enter a small museum with exhibits about the McIlhenny family and additional information about Avery Island itself. It sits atop a mountain of salt as tall as Mt. Everest and there are also oil deposits being drilled for in an environmentally friendly way.

BTW - the fish sculpture in the second-to-last photo, above, was part of a state-wide exhibit of fish sculptures -- similar to the cow scultptures that were done several years ago. The fish is biting ino a Tabasco pepper, like it's bait. The company bought back the fish they commissioned in the charity auction of all the fish art.

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It was cool to see the factory but I would have really have liked to have seen the fields of growing tabasco peppers and the aging rooms for the sauce -- it takes 3 years for them to age the packed peppers in salt to give it the distinctive taste that we recognize.

Apparently they used to do this, but I'm guessing insurance concerns have stopped them from doing it.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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  • 6 months later...
It sits atop a mountain of salt as tall as Mt. Everest and there are also oil deposits being drilled for in an environmentally friendly way.

Well, except for that time 20 years ago when a Texaco drilling rig punctured the top of the salt dome (and Diamond Salt Mine) and sucked down a lake, a barge or two, a 5 million dollar oil platform, a few trucks and other miscellany, in just a few hours time. Luckily, all of the saltminers were evacuated in time and the few fisherman in the lake were able to escape, unharmed.

http://members.tripod.com/~earthdude1/texaco/texaco.html

Other than that, yeah, it's environmentally friendly. :)

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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This belongs in the what I learned on eGullet thread!

A tour of Tobasco....what did it smell like? What type of peppers do they use?

What is a 'salt dome'? I'm picturing a giant sink hole. How horrifying!

A salt dome is just that. Imagine something about the size of a large stadium (or bigger), completely made of salt, but solid. They are found near large bodies of salt water in the marshy areas. What happens is, large parcels of salt water got cut off from the (in this case) Gulf of Mexico. So you essentially had a big salt lake, seperated from the gulf by sediment from rivers and whatnot. After a while, the water evaporates, leaving giant pools of the solids that were dissolved in it.

More time passes, and the land extends over the dome and buries it. Then men come along and find them, grind them up, and sell them to you to put on your table. This is oversimplifying, of course, but there you are. Remember that these look like coal mines, in that to get to the salt, you go down a shaft into what becomes a cavernous empty space underground. Only the shaft is left to get back up. It's not a strip mine.

The really interesting part is that when they have removed the salt, you are left with a big hole in the ground. This is where the Strategic Petroleum Reserve comes in. The Federal government keeps a stash of crude oil in these empty salt domes as emergency fuel. It's always fascinated me to drive down some of these roads in the middle of nowhere and stumble across National Guardsmen providing security for the things.

Ah, the salt dome. The utility player in Louisiana's history...

Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)
Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Many thanks for the explanation. I grew up around strip mines, so I understand what you are saying. And they store oil in the abandoned salt mine?? They don't leak??

Interesting juxtaposition of salt mine and Tobasco.

Normally, they don't leak. It's the heavier weight of crude oil, probably. Besides, oil is found at shallower depths all around the area, so it's not like it's out of place.

The oil serves another purpose in that it provides some support for that formerly empty space which could then potentially become a giant sinkhole as you feared. People in Texas found out the hard way when the water level in the Edwards aquifer started dropping. It runs through a maze of limestone caverns, and without the water up near the top providing support, the tops started crumbling, taking acres of farmland and the occasional driveway down with it. The liquid in the hole helps support the weight above it.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Jason & Rachel,

Thanks for posting the pictures and taking the tour.

Someday I hope eGullet can get a real behind-the-scenes look at Avery Island.

I would like to taste the difference between a just-made brew of Tabsaco and the aged 3 years batch just to compare. And it makes me wonder if they age it longer if it gets any hotter or even ferments.

Brooks, you need to grease some wheels, spread the eGullet gospel to the McIlhenny's. Now that would be a great Q & A.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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This belongs in the what I learned on eGullet thread!

A tour of Tobasco....what did it smell like? What type of peppers do they use?

What is a 'salt dome'? I'm picturing a giant sink hole. How horrifying!

Hathor, they use the Tabasco pepper, which as I understand grows natively on Avery Island.

The Tabasco is different from the Cayenne, which is used in other types of Louisiana Hot Sauce such as Crystal and Red Hot.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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This belongs in the what I learned on eGullet thread!

A tour of Tobasco....what did it smell like? What type of peppers do they use?

What is a 'salt dome'? I'm picturing a giant sink hole. How horrifying!

Hathor, they use the Tabasco pepper, which as I understand grows natively on Avery Island.

The Tabasco is different from the Cayenne, which is used in other types of Louisiana Hot Sauce such as Crystal and Red Hot.

thanks! I 'googled' it up...and you are right. You can buy seeds, find medicinal preparations (said to "reduce pain preception"??) etc. etc.

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You can buy seeds, find medicinal preparations (said to "reduce pain preception"??) etc. etc.

Well sure! You're so worried about your mouth going up in flames, you don't percieve other pain :biggrin: Just kidding.

Seriously though, I've heard capsaicin works well as a pain releiver.

Here's a blurb I found at

Click here

"Capsaicin is the purified extracted alkaloid from red chilli peppers (capsicums). This is the substance that makes chilli peppers hot. The purified form capsaicin has been found to relieve pain by reducing substance P, which is found at nerve endings and is involved in transmitting neuralgic and arthritic pain signals to the brain. Pain relief is not instantaneous after application as it is the cumulative depletion of substance P over a period of weeks that brings the full effect."

Sounds plausible.

This might be more reputable a source, however

click here

Neat-o!!

Pass the tabasco, please.

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The salt deposits also form in areas where ancient seas once existed. There are huge deposits underneath Cayuga Lake in NY state's Finger Lakes region. Cargill has mines there for rock salt, some of which are 1/2 mile deep and extend close to one mile out underneath the lake. Similar deposits once existed in the form of huge brines pools near Syracuse and the surrounding areas. When it was still labor cost-effective to do so, most of the US salt supply was produced here by pumping the brine to the surface and evaporating it to collect the salt.

Beginning in the late 1800's, soda ash was produced locally by pumping brine from an area twenty miles south and mixing it with crushed limestone to produce soda ash (known as the Solvay Process). The pumping and the soda ash production stopped about twenty years ago - ten years ago the empty spaces began to collapse, taking a few houses down into the chasm

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  • 3 weeks later...
You can buy seeds, find medicinal preparations (said to "reduce pain preception"??) etc. etc.

Well sure! You're so worried about your mouth going up in flames, you don't percieve other pain :biggrin: Just kidding.

Seriously though, I've heard capsaicin works well as a pain releiver.

Here's a blurb I found at

Click here

"Capsaicin is the purified extracted alkaloid from red chilli peppers (capsicums). This is the substance that makes chilli peppers hot. The purified form capsaicin has been found to relieve pain by reducing substance P, which is found at nerve endings and is involved in transmitting neuralgic and arthritic pain signals to the brain. Pain relief is not instantaneous after application as it is the cumulative depletion of substance P over a period of weeks that brings the full effect."

Sounds plausible.

This might be more reputable a source, however

click here

Neat-o!!

Pass the tabasco, please.

The way I understand it is that the stimulus (whether it is ice, hot water, menthol, mild electrical shocks, capsicum, or whatever) overloads the nerve endings, which makes them shut down, or temporarily stop sending information to the brain.

At least that's the way a physical therapist once described it. It's simply a matter of overdriving the nerves so they think something is wrong and turn themselves off.

I may still have a connection at McIlhenny. A friend of a friend was a member of management there. Not sure if she still is, but I'll find out. That would make an interesting Q&A.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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You can buy seeds, find medicinal preparations (said to "reduce pain preception"??) etc. etc.

Well sure! You're so worried about your mouth going up in flames, you don't percieve other pain :biggrin: Just kidding.

Seriously though, I've heard capsaicin works well as a pain releiver.

Here's a blurb I found at

Click here

"Capsaicin is the purified extracted alkaloid from red chilli peppers (capsicums). This is the substance that makes chilli peppers hot. The purified form capsaicin has been found to relieve pain by reducing substance P, which is found at nerve endings and is involved in transmitting neuralgic and arthritic pain signals to the brain. Pain relief is not instantaneous after application as it is the cumulative depletion of substance P over a period of weeks that brings the full effect."

Sounds plausible.

This might be more reputable a source, however

click here

Neat-o!!

Pass the tabasco, please.

The way I understand it is that the stimulus (whether it is ice, hot water, menthol, mild electrical shocks, capsicum, or whatever) overloads the nerve endings, which makes them shut down, or temporarily stop sending information to the brain.

At least that's the way a physical therapist once described it. It's simply a matter of overdriving the nerves so they think something is wrong and turn themselves off.

I may still have a connection at McIlhenny. A friend of a friend was a member of management there. Not sure if she still is, but I'll find out. That would make an interesting Q&A.

Check out the capsium link that Nessa provided, it goes into a whole other dimension way beyond sensory overload. Think of the capsium as you would any other essential oil. Rosemary, myrh, peppermint have a 'menthol' scent to them but there are actual chemical properties to them that make them useful medicinally.

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A few years ago we visited New Iberia and toured the Konriko rice mill and then Trappey's cannery (it has just sold a month or so before, but was still operating under the Trappey's name), as well as the Tabasco plant. The Tabasco tour had more polish and glitz, but the other two were the more enjoyable. They were very hands on - we were allowed to be on the production floor. Trappey's was processing chopped jalapenos the day we were there. Konriko was packaging rice cakes.

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  • 4 months later...

Since I am planning to go south anyhow. How bout visiting Avery island? Is it worth a little detour?

On the hot sauce front does Cajun Power have any kind of store front, aren't they in Abbeville?

Edited by irodguy (log)

Never trust a skinny chef

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Since I am planning to go south anyhow.  How bout visiting Avery island?  Is it worth a little detour?

On the hot sauce front does Cajun Power have any kind of store front, aren't they in Abbeville?

I hope someone answers your question. It was Eula Mae's Cajun Kitchen (cookbook) that got me started on the whole question of what makes food Cajun. She's the cook for the family there at Avery Island, and apparently has been for just about forever.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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jason and rachel perlow had a nice pictorial essay on their visit there... don't have the link handy but it's somewhere on egullet! (maybe someone elses memory is better than mine...)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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pm Mayhaw man and see what his take on Avery Island is. I know it is a pretty big tourist thing.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I was the speech therapist for the school on Avery Island for a year, and worked in that school district for 21, but ironically, I've never toured the Tabasco plant! Still, I always enjoyed the other worldliness of the drive to the school, as if I'd stepped back in time. I have visited the Tabasco store and liked it, but you can get most of the stuff you find there, elsewhere, even online at http://www.pepperfest.com, or specifically, http://countrystore.tabasco.com/index.cfm. The trip is definitely worthwhile in the spring when the gardens are in bloom and open for viewing.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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