Saturday, November 14, 2015
Sugar Cane Finca
Its midway into November and the rains continue. What is good for one crop is not good for another. Sugar cane doesn’t need more rain, it needs to grow and produce more sugar.
We are at a sugar cane finca today to learn about the process. Cane is still harvested by hand; if the cane is not burned in the fields, gathering is an itchy activity for the workers. The 8 foot cane is stripped and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. The pieces are fed into a grinder (top photo with a stalk shown for an example). The pulp coming from the grinder is fed onto a conveyor and into a large hot tank where it is heated until the sugar is liquid. As a gravity-fed process, the liquid passes through 3 more very hot stainless steel tanks where impurities are filtered out at each tank.
The contents at the last and lowest tank are drained into a stainless steel cart and wheeled into the molding room (last photo). In the molding room, Francisco pours the liquid sugar into wooden molds using the little shovel sitting on the table. Francisco levels the molds with the wooden pallet (notice his hand), clearing excess sugar from the mold creating a uniform product.
Excess sugar is captured and reprocessed to be used again.
When the sugar begins to harden, the sugar cone is removed from the mold and all the sugar cones are immediately wheeled into a “clean” room where women wrap the small blocks with the husks from corn ears.
The corn is not needed and given to the workers for free as the processor only wants the wrap for their sugar product.
Sugar has received a lot of bad press but this brown sugar is pure, has vitamins and is a healthy product. At the January harvest and processing, they are going to make sugar syrup for us to use on our pancakes.
This is currently the only modern processor of sugar cane in Central America. Who would like a tour?
David y Nancy