Now once the cane is harvested we’re in a race against time. Typically sugar cane is pressed within 24-48hrs to prevent the sucrose from breaking down into simpler sugars. The cut cane is hastily brought to the mill, weighed and measured for sugar content before being shredded and pressed to release the sweet juice. Generally the fresh juice contains around 70% water, 10-15% insoluble fiber and 15-20% sucrose.
Sugar content is measured in ° brix which is the percentage of sucrose by weight. Some sugarcane varietals grown under the best of conditions and harvested at peak maturity can contain as much as 23° brix. In some cases water is added to the mill to flush out as much sucrose from the cane as possible.
If you’re making cane juice r(h)um you now have your raw material and you’re ready to ferment the juice. Most rum however is made from molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, but that’s a story for another day…
The by-product of this stage is the leftover cane fibers, called bagasse, which is burned as fuel for the various other processes in sugar/rum making.