Friday, August 30, 2013

Safra and Sugar Cane Molasses at the Salinas Valley in Ecuador

Some years ago I was hiking with a French-English couple in the Salinas de Ibarra Valley, and we had the chance to see the old method of producing molasses from sugar cane juice. They were amazed by the technology used to press, cook and solidify the juice that will end up as small rounded "bricks" or poudered hardened and unrefined brown sugar.

The sugar cane was harvested on the field where the machines were working, and also from the crop accross the road. They had to be transported with a donkey to the press site. The press was set up using a diesel runned motor that was powering a metal press to extract the juice. Then the juice flowed through a metal channel into several deposits where it was heated from below by the fire produced from the dried sugar cane fibers, that were the remains of the pressing processs. This remains are called by the locals "bagazo".

After some patience and heat, the juice is thick and ready to be poured to solidify over metal trays or in the "brickets" wooden shapes, and after both solidify, then they were packed in nylon sacks or in banana leafs (for the brickets).

This process happens during several weeks, as long as there is sugar cane near by. Then all is remooved and it will take again a year an a half before the field sees again this hard working people that earn their living this way.

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