Step 4/15 - Stir-up & Syrup

While distillates from cane juice comprises a fair share of the market, especially if we include Cachaça, most juice gets processed further before fermentation. Fresh sugar cane juice contains a lot of insoluble fibers, impurities, organic matter, and acids, so the next step of the process often involves some sort of clarification. The juice is mixed with a solution of lime (not the citrus kind) to raise the pH level, then carbonated at a high temperature so all particles can be filtered out, before sulphur is added to lower the pH again and bleach the juice. The clear juice is then evaporated to a 70-75° brix level which is called cane syrup or cane honey. This syrup is shelf stable and can be kept for months before dilution down to 20° brix prior to fermentation.

Cane syrup rums are most often associated with the Latin American rum world (Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic), but the technique is also widespread in India, Thailand & the US. While some producers swear by the flavor benefits of syrup vs molasses, the use of syrup more likely boils down (pun very much intended) to economics.

The byproduct in this stage is called press mud, a substance rich in nutrients, energy and fiber, which in turn can be used to fertilize cane fields or compressed and burned for fuel. Next up, we’re making sugar. Stay tuned for more rum knowledge…