Location of production - Pulque is the national drink in Mexico, where, it is claimed, it originated with the early Aztecs. Pulque is a traditional beverage that now forms the basis of a national industry, together with the spirits mezcal and tequila that are obtained from it. Pulque plays an important role in the nutrition of low income people in Mexico with B vitamins being present in nutritionally important levels.
Product description - Pulque is a milky, slightly foamy, acidic and somewhat viscous beverage. It is obtained by fermentation of aguamiel, which is the name given to the juices of various cacti, notably Agave atrovirens and A. americana which are often called the "Century plant" in English. The alcohol content on pulque varies between six and seven percent. The beverage obtained upon distilling pulque is called "Mezcal", and if manufactured in the Tequila region from a numbered distillery, it is referred to as "Tequila". The drink is often considered an aphrodisiac. The name Ticyaol is given to a good strain that makes one particularly virile. Pulque is frequently the potion of choice used by women during menstruation.
Preparation of raw materials - The juices are extracted from the plants when they are eight to ten years old and fermentation takes place spontaneously, although occasionally the juices are inoculated with a starter from previous fermentations.
Processing - The juice is allowed to ferment naturally through a mixed fermentation although yeast (Saccharomyces carbajali) is the main actor. Lacto-bacillus plantarum produces lactic acid and the viscosity of pulque is caused by the activity of two species of Leuconostoc which produce dextrans (Wood and Hodge). During fermentation of the juices of the plant, the soluble solids are reduced from between 25-30% to 6%; the pH falls from 7.4 to between 3.5 and 4.0; the sucrose content falls from 15% to 1% and vitamin levels are increased. For instance the vitamin content (milligrams of vitamins per 100g of product) increases from 5 to 29 for thiamine, 54 to 515 for niacin and 18 to 33 for riboflavin (Steinkraus, K.H. (1992) .
Packaging and storage - Packaging is only required to keep the product for its relatively short shelf-life. Clean glass or plastic bottles should be used. The product should be kept in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
Caution - Homemade mead, beer, coffees, wines, and liqueurs do not have the shelf life of commercial brands! In many instances the use of extracts is preffered instead of cooking and breaking down fruits - to expedite the ageing process and prevent acidity or fruit sedimentation (this also sometimes prevents the natural flavours to permeate the liqueur)! Sugars, coffee, chocolates, and fruits added with water can introduce contaminants to liqueurs so refrigerate upon opening, serve and enjoy as soon as possible!
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