Elaboration of mezcal – Fermentation

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Elaboration of mezcal

Fermentation

The grinded agave is placed in containers to ferment for a few days, although the fermentation really starts at the end of the cooking.

The type of material the containers are made of in which the fermentation will be held plays an important role in the taste of mezcal, there are made of cowhide, cement containers, brick and stone bowls, containers built with complete logs in forms of canoes, plastic, stainless steel, wood containers in forms of drawers, red clay pots and the most common is the cup-shaped or cylindrical made of strips of wood, different woods are used by region.

The containers are filled approximately 75% full with crushed agave for a while and then filled with water to reach 90% of their capacity, achieving to speed up fermentation. This process is supervised by “el practico”, name of the person with the knowledge for this stage of the development of mezcal.

Elaboration of mezcal

Fermentation

Water plays an important role in the taste of mezcal due to the properties in the region from which it comes. After “el practico” ordered the filling to 90% capacity with water, then it is left to ferment, and then it is completely filled with warm water. They have to leave about 15 cm of space in the tub because the fermented agave and water rise.

There are two forms of fermentation of agave: natural and accelerated. In the first as the name suggests, no chemical are added to accelerate the fermentation process, depending on the environmental temperature, tub type, the type of agave, etc., it can be from 8 to 20 days. And in accelerated fermentation, chemicals are added like ammonium sulphate and the shell from a tree called timbre.

During fermentation the content of the tub must be removed from time to time to achieve a complete process. At the beginning of fermentation you can perceive strong alcohol and sweet odors, which decrease over time until you get a vinegary smell and a dark brown color. Also in the early stages of the fermentation the temperature of the content rises considerably due to the process being carried out.