TABASCO® brand products are made by McIlhenny Company, founded in 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana, and still family-owned and operated on that very site.
According to family tradition, Original TABASCO® brand Pepper Sauce was created in the mid-to-late 1860s by Edmund McIlhenny. A food lover and avid gardener, McIlhenny was given seeds of Capsicum frutescens peppers that had come from Mexico or Central America. On Avery Island in south Louisiana, he sowed the seeds, nurtured the plants, and delighted in the spicy flavour of the peppers they bore.
Over 140 years later, TABASCO® Sauce is made much the same way except now the aging process for the mash is longer – up to three years in white oak barrels and the vinegar is high quality distilled vinegar. Labelled in 22 languages and dialects, sold in over 160 countries and territories, added to soldiers’ rations, and put on restaurant tables around the globe, it is the most famous, most preferred pepper sauce in the world.
After the peppers are picked, they are mashed and then mixed with a small amount of Avery Island salt, extracted from the salt mines that lie beneath the Island. The pepper mash is placed in white oak barrels, and the wooden tops of the barrels are then covered with more Avery Island salt, which acts as a natural barrier to protect the barrels’ contents. The mash is allowed to ferment and then age for up to three years in the McIlhenny warehouse.
The mash is inspected by a member of the McIlhenny family. When approved, the fully-aged mash is then blended with high quality distilled vinegar. Numerous stirrings and about four weeks later, the pepper skins, pulp and seeds are strained out using 3 different-sized screens. Then the “finished” sauce is bottled by modern methods, labelled in 22 languages and dialects, and prepared for shipment to over 160 countries and territories around the world.
The following year’s pepper crop is insured by the McIlhennys, who personally select the best plants in the field during harvest. The pepper seeds from those select plants are treated and dried - for use the following year - and then stored both on the Island and in a local bank vault as a hedge against any disaster that might befall future crops.
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