SUGAR CANE PRODUCTS

The plantations of sugar cane are as ancient as the first steps taken by men in the transformation of Madeira’s landscape. Currently, from the harvest and extraction process, two products are essentially produced: the aguardente or agricultural rum and the sugar cane honey.

The aguardente, or “Madeiran Rum”, is an agricultural rum and, as such, is exclusively obtained from the alcoholic fermentation and distillation of the sugar cane juice. From the experience gained throughout generations and with the traditional technology of the Region, the result is a traditional final product, with unique quality and characteristics. After the sugar cane harvest, it is quickly subject to milling, a determining factor for the quality of the final product. The resulting wort is then subject to decanting, followed by filtering, aiming to make this “broth” as clean as possible. Then a slow fermentation process occurs, which may take a few days, depending on the room temperature.

The “Madeiran Rum” may be subject to aging in oak shells for a minimum period of three years. It must mention the year of production, provided that it was fully produced in the year indicated, and subsequently aged in oak casks until its bottling; or the indication of the age, provided that its aging is carried out in oak casks during the minimum period corresponding to the specific age.

Rum is the main ingredient of the traditional Madeiran poncha (punch), but it may also be enjoyed in several ways, namely in cocktails, on its own or even together with cigars and chocolates.

As the name implies, the cane honey originates from the sugar cane, which is inserted in two mills, known as “engenhos”, where the cane juice is extracted, called “guarapa” (molasses), which is then filtered and boiled in the clarifiers. The molasses then enters the evaporators to continue the cooking and water evaporation process. In the last stage, the product is cooked and filtered again, which precedes the introduction of the syrup in the vacuum boiler. After this process, the cane honey rests and naturally cools down in a repository.

This is a product rich in several chemical elements and vitamins, such as Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Copper and Vitamins PP, B1 and B2. It is also widely used in the Madeiran gastronomy, in delicacies such as broas de mel (honey biscuits), honey cake, bolo de família (family cake), bolo preto (black cake), as a dressing for the traditional malassadas and sonhos (fried sweet dough) during the Carnival, used in meat and fish dishes, among other typical dishes of the Madeiran cuisine.

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