Agave’s Many Uses
If you’re a fan of delicious tipples like us you’ve likely heard of it, but what is agave? Native to Mexico but also found in parts of the southern US and South America, agave is a genus of succulent plants. Agave’s large, fleshy leaves grow in a rosette pattern with spiked tips, seen below. Indigenous people have utilized agave for thousands of years for its many different uses, including food, medicine, fiber, and fuel. Today, agave is still widely used for these purposes, as well as for producing alcoholic beverages and sweeteners.
Tequila, a favorite here at The Crafty Cask, is made from the blue weber agave plant. Found primarily in Jalisco, MX, blue weber agave is legally the only type of agave permitted to make tequila. To produce tequila, farmers harvest the heart of the agave plant (careful, they’re sharp!). Roasting and crushing the hearts, known as the piña, extracts the juices. Next, tequileros ferment and distill the agave juice to create tequila. The unique flavor of this spirit lays the foundation in many delicious cocktail creations, like the margarita!
Another tasty spirit made from agave is mezcal. Mezcal is similar to tequila but made from a different type of agave plant called maguey. Several different types of maguey exist, each with its own unique flavor profile. Like tequila, the heart of the maguey is roasted and then crushed to extract the juices, which are then fermented and distilled. Interested in learning more? Watch a replay of our virtual tasting with some amazing Mezcal makers.
Other Uses Than Booze
Extracting sap from the agave plant and then heating it breaks down the complex sugars into simple sugars. This creates a sweetener known as agave syrup or nectar. Those who are trying to reduce their intake of refined sugar often use this sap product as a substitute.
For centuries, indigenous people have used agave for its medicinal properties. The plant contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, making it useful for treating a variety of ailments. Traditional medicine has utilized it to treat wounds, digestive issues, respiratory problems, and other conditions.
Finally, agave is also used for its fiber, which can be extracted from the leaves of the plant. This fiber is utilized to make a variety of products, including rope, twine, and woven textiles.
So as you can see, agave is a versatile and useful plant with many different applications. Its many uses have allowed it to remain an important part of Mexican culture and cuisine for thousands of years. Of course, the application we’re most fond of is its use in making the delicious spirits tequila and mezcal and all the resulting cocktails based in them.
Wanna try some of Agave based cocktails?
Get your SipScout kit highlighting the Evolution of the Margarita in time for Cinco de Mayo! Learn how to make epic cocktails and celebrate in style during our SipScout party on April 20th. Each kit makes two each of the 3 cocktails featured, perfect for you and a friend…