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The harvest

The harvest of the sugar cane. The harvest of the sugar cane.

The harvest of the sugar cane takes place in the months of april until the end of june. At first, the dry leaves of the sugar cane are taken off (desfoliar cana), to avoid that the newly growing sugar canes are trampled down in the harvest work.
Then they begin to cut the sugar cane. With a tool called "manjat" that looks like a hammer but has a blade on one side,the canes are cut and then they begin with the division of work:
one cuts the sugar cane, the next takes the leaves off, another cuts off the ends with a sharp machete where there are still green leaves.
Then the sugar canes are put together to about 20 kg heavy bundles and are carried, on heads of the women to the "Curral" to press out the juice there. Women here work in the so-called "tarefa salary", which means that, depending on the distance, they have to carry an determined amount of bundles in order to get their 350 Esudos.

The press

Trapicho Trapicho

Arrived at the press ( the so-called trapicho), the juice is pressed out of the sugar canes: The cane is put between three turning barrels. The two barrels in the front squeeze the cane, le lower barrel and the one in the back then press the juice out.
The two front barrels have little dents. Those dents diminuish the effort needed by the worker to put the cane into the press, because they enter practically automatically once taken by the dents.
Now the juice comes out on the side of the press and the pressed sugar cane, called "bagaco" goes out in the end of the press. This Bagaco, in some distilleries, is burned to deliver heat for the actual distille - if they do not distillate with gas.
Our press is driven electrically - in some traditional Currals you can - still today - find presses driven with mules or oxes, who walk in a circle, turning a wheel which makes the barrels turn.

The house of fermentation

house of fermentation fermentation vessel

The freshly pressed sugar cane juice (Calda fresco) is now filled into a fermentation vessel. It can take about 1000 liters, but is only filled with 800 liters at the most.
Out of the collecting tank next to the press, a tube goes directly into the house of fermentation.
After the filling, the work of the cellarmaster begins. A citric acid is added to the calda, to kill possible bacterias and natural wild yeasts that already got into the calda. Shortly after that we add our yeast, that, within the fermentation, transforms the sugar into alcohol. Additionnally hydrocarbonate is created in the fermentation process, which can escape through a whole on top of the fermentation vessel.
The fermentation produces a lot of energy and the calda heats up and it seems like it is boiling - but this is only the movement of the yeast producing more and more of its kind. Now it takes about 4 to 6 weeks - and sometimes surprisingly only :-) 3 - until the sugar has completely transformed into alcohol.
In the house of fermentation the most important rule is that is has to be kept clean during the whole time, to avoid that no other wild yeasts and bacterias will enter.
At the end of fermentation, when no activity can be observed anymore and the daily measurement of temperature and Oechsle (and approximate value how much sugar already transformed into alcohol) shows no changings anymore and the calda now has a rather clear color, it will be pumped through a tube directly to a collecting tank by the distille.

The Distille

Deistille Alfred, who does not have a thick belly more!

Out of the collecting tank the fermented juice can now be filled into the distille. Our distille can be filled with about 400 liters, but the filling of distilles is only always up to 70 % only.
It is heated with gas, what, in the future is supposed to happen with biogas. The advantage with gas is, that the temperature can be controlled and changed precisely, it creates no ash and dirt and no workers to fill the distille with bagaço is needed.
tarting the distillation, it first brings methanol and acetates down the distille before from 78°C on, the first ethyl alcohol comes down from the distille and runs down into a 20 liter gas bottle called garrafão.
In the first cycle we destillate until approximately 98°C. When we distillate a second time, we only go up to a temperature of 91°C before we refill the distille with new calda.
After the distillation we have a brandy with a volume of between 56 and 72 vol.%, which is too strong to be drunken. So we diluate the brandy with distillated water to a volume of 45%.


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