As I’ve mentioned before, I have a monster sweet tooth. However, refined sugar doesn’t agree with me much these days, and I’m having a particularly difficult time with it as of late. I’m not eating any sweets right now, except for a little raw honey in my tea. I am sure that won’t last, and when the sweet itch gets bad enough to scratch, I’ll be looking for something that is made with a natural sweetener.
In my pantry right now is a little jar of coconut sugar that I bought on my last trip to Kalustyan’s. I hadn’t heard of coconut sugar until about three months ago – I was definitely intrigued because I love pretty much anything that involves coconut. Turns out it’s made from the sap of the flower of the coconut palm, not from the coconut itself, and is used throughout Southeast Asia and the Philippines.
It’s also not highly processed and is low on the glycemic index (35-54). It is also full of vitamins and minerals – it is high in potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron and is a natural source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. This link explains the nutritional profile of coconut sugar with a number of easy to read charts.
Traditionally, the sap is usually extracted by the farmer climbing high into the canopy of the coconut trees, then harvesting the sap by gently slicing open the flower. After enough sap is collected, it is boiled in an open kettle and either poured into jars or allowed to cook until hard. The sap can vary from place to place and tree to tree, and even in different seasons, resulting in variations between batches. Such is the life of an unrefined product. I do not see this as a bad thing.
Sometimes the terms “coconut sugar” and “palm sugar” are used interchangeably, but they are not the same.
Coconut sugar can be exchanged one for one in recipes.
I haven’t had a chance to taste it, but my understanding is that it can have a hint of a maple syrup taste to it. In some dishes, I think this could be an advantage, actually. I be it would be great in my rice pudding recipe. When I do taste it, I’ll post a follow up.
Coconut sugar promises to be a worthy alternative, traditional sweetener, and I’m really looking forward to experimenting with it.
This post is participating in Fight Back Fridays, hosted by Food Renegade.