I recently went to Avery Island and toured the Tabasco factory. In 1868, Edmond McIlhenny made some spicy sauce and shared it with friends and family. The condiment was so well received, Edmund decided to make more and sell it. Now this famous hot sauce is packaged in 22 different languages and shipped to 162 countries around the world. All the sauce is made at this one location, and they produce an amazing 700,000 bottles a day!
Only 1% of the capsaicin peppers used to make Tabasco are grown on Avery Island. The other 99% are grown in Central and South America. Only the reddest ripest juiciest peppers are harvested by hand, ground into a mash, and put into 50-gallon white oak Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. (JD can only use each barrel once; Tabasco can use them multiple times.) The mash is stored and fermented for three years, after which time it is mixed with a strong vinegar, stirred for 28 days, and then bottled.
After the factory tour, including small complimentary Tabasco bottles, visit the Country Store for all the Tabasco merchandise you can imagine, as well as free samples of all their many sauces and products, including Tabasco Coca-Cola and Tabasco ice cream, all very good.
Avery Island is near the Gulf Coast, south of Lafayette, Louisiana. These 200 acres sit atop a salt dome that extends deep into the ground farther and larger than Mt. Everest is high. Also on Avery Island is Jungle Gardens. In this lovely garden grow large moss-draped live oaks and many varieties of plants, including 64 varieties of Chinese bamboo. The garden is especially well-known for its azaleas and camellias, and I recommend going when these flowers are in bloom. There is also a large egret and heron rookery on the property. Read more about Avery Island here.Two questions I have that I did not find answers to while on the tour – how many peppers are needed to make an average-sized bottle of Tabasco? And how did Mr. McIlhenny come up with the name, Tabasco? Does anyone know?
PS: I found this on the website . . . “Tabasco,” a word of Mexican Indian origin believed to mean “place where the soil is humid” or “place of the coral or oyster shell.”