Sugar cane, rum, and Mauritius. All of these are inseparably linked. Sugar cane is a type of grass and a tall, robust plant. Sugar contains a massive cane stalk that is rich in sucrose. Sugar is obtained from the cane by crushing the stems and pressing out the juice. Raw sugar can be obtained from this sweet juice by boiling it. However, because the juice easily ferments and alcohol is produced by fermentation, it can also be used to make the famous Mauritian rum.
Sugar cane has a long history on the island. Dutch colonizers first brought it to Mauritius in the early 17th century. The humid tropical climate proved ideal for growing sugar cane, and it quickly became the island’s main crop.
In the 19th century, Mauritius was one of the world’s leading producers of sugar, and this industry played a significant role in the island’s economy. Today, sugar cane is still an important crop in Mauritius, although other industries have surpassed it in terms of economic significance.
You can find sugar cane all over the island in various sizes, from small plants to large grass ready for harvest. Since sugar is only extracted from the thickest stems, workers make their job easier by burning the fields – smaller leaves burn off and the thick stem remains alone and is easier to harvest. So if you go to the edge of the field, you may still find some wooden charcoals. However, permission is required for burning and it is usually done at night.
You can taste pure sugar cane juice, for example, at the market in Port Louis, a large cup costs 100 MUR, which is about 2 EUR. In the heat, it is a refreshing drink that is not as sweet as one would expect.
The juice from the thick stem of sugar cane is squeezed out by a powerful press, and only dry remains come out from the other end of the press. Even these remains are not wasted in large-scale sugar and rum production, but are processed into biofuel, which is then used to generate electricity on the island.