Cracking Coconut Sugar 101 with Going Coconut’s Guru, Brynley King

 


With the clean eating and healthy lifestyle worlds becoming more apparent than ever, consumers are looking for more natural alternatives to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. One of natures best natural sweeteners I have found to date is coconut sugar and I am going to show you just how this ‘superfood’ is derived and how it can replace all of the regular sweeteners in your pantry.

 

In October 2013, I ventured 8,793km’s to Sri Lanka to roadtrip their beautiful country with my native Sri Lankan born food professor friend. It was an incredible experience and I was privileged enough to learn first hand how to process almost every coconut product you see to date in Western societies health food stores and super markets. It was truly an incredible life changing experience to witness just how some of my favourite foods are produced.

 

The technical processing of coconut sugar

 

Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of the coconut tree, which is a sugary sap found when cutting the flower in the very tops of the coconut tree. Coconut sugar is often confused with Palm sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree. The Sri Lankan practice of farming this beautiful sap is by hanging charcoal painted black clay pots in the trees that rest collecting the sap. The reason for using charcoal painted black clay pots is to stop the fermenting process happening before reaching its boiling stage. If the sap ferments too quickly it becomes ‘totty’ a natural alcoholic drink loved by many South Pacific and Asian countries. ‘Totty’ is very strong, and tastes like a very strongly sweet Vodka. 


 


In Sri Lanka there are two lines of rope fastened very tightly between the tops of coconut trees. One for walking across and the other for helping you keep your balance. Most harvesters are very quick at running between trees, with some trees averaging 100 feet in height. Once the clay pot is full of sap they drop them down to the bottom of the coconut tree by rope where the other farmers will quickly collect them and place them in a larger vat to boil straight away. As I mentioned, without the boiling process the sap ferments to ‘totty’.

 

Once this process is finished they send the vat off to the manufacturing plant where they continue to ferment the sap turning it into a thick syrup. Various types of coconut products such as coconut syrup, coconut amino seasoning, coconut vinegar and of course beautiful coconut sugar are made from the sap of the coconut tree.

 

To crystalize coconut sugar from the thick sap it roughly takes around 6-8 weeks from the original harvesting process. Once crystallising has been finished the stock is then ready for dispatch to it's destination. The processing of coconut sugar is a very lenghty process. This is why I love coconut sugar, there is such an art to producing this beautiful product.

 

Photo credit : Brynley King

 Photo credit: Brynley King

In my time in the coconut industry I have had numerous clients ask me if coconut sap harvesting is ruining coconut trees and coconut reproduction by cutting the flower. There is literature out there on the internet from a few U.S. companies I have seen that states this however on my travels throughout the Pacific and Asia I have asked this same question and all the growers have told me that due to the multitude sprouts at the top of the tree it almost doubles the reproduction rate and they get a higher yield of nuts.

 

Benefits of coconut sugar

 

Apart from tasting great coconut sugar has many benefits over regular sugars and sweeteners. Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index of 35. It contains several minerals such as potassium, zinc, calcium, iron and contains a fibre called inulin, which explains why it slows glucose absorption and has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. What makes coconut sugar so great is its processing as you read above. It is a much more natural process than your regular sugars and after all I feel this is what healthy foodies such as myself are looking for, something that is natural with no additives, preservatives and fillers.

 

The best part of coconut sugar

 

I believe the best part of coconut sugar is that is generates income to some of the poorest countries in the world and and this traditional skill can provide entire villages with an income from a simple coconut.

 

As a foodie it also resembles regular sugar to a 1:1 ratio which is perfect for creating your favourite recipes replacing regular or brown sugar for coconut sugar. Apart from fuelling the economies in some of the worlds poorest countries it also makes the most amazing caramel when baked. When baked it almost liquefies to its natural sap state and resembles a caramel sauce which tastes simply amazing when oven roasting nuts such as macadamias. Some of my favourite recipes to date are coconut scroll scones with coconut sugar rolled in the middle of the scones, or the good old fashioned sticky date pudding.

 

With all this delicious food talk, here’s one of my most favourite beloved coconut sugar recipes…

 

Bryn’s Sticky Date Pudding Recipe


 

Love sticky date pudding but hate all the nasty ingredients that can be added?

Why not try creating your own healthy masterpiece at home with this saucy creation.

 GLUTEN FREE | PALEO

 Serves 8

 

Pudding Ingredients

 1 cup dates, pitted

1 tsp. bicarbonate soda

1 cup boiling water

1 1/3 cup almond meal

½ cup Power Super Foods Coconut Sugar

2 eggs

¼ cup of ghee or coconut oil

 

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

 1 cup Coconut Sugar

1 cup Coconut Cream

½ cup ghee or coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Pudding Directions

 1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Line a circle or square baking tray with baking paper or for muffins, grease a twelve-cup muffin tin.

3. Place dates and half the bicarbonate soda in a mixing bowl and add boiling water. Allow too stand for 30 – 40 minutes.

4. Using a food processor or electric mixer beat the coconut sugar and ghee or coconut oil together first. Then add the eggs and continue to beat for a minute or so. After, add in the almond meal and dates until well combined.

5. Add the mixture into the baking tray and place in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

6. Once out of the oven place pudding onto wire rack to allow cooling.

 

Caramel Sauce Directions

 1. While the pudding is baking, combine coconut sugar, cream and ghee or coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Remember to stir occasionally until boiled. Once boiled remove from heat and continue to stir until fully combined.

 Tip – Serve caramel sauce warm over pudding and top with a rich coconut ice cream or coconut whipped cream!


Enjoy!

Brynley King

Creative & Marketing Manager
Published Author - Going Coconuts
www.naturepacific.com
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