Coconut Sweetener...Any Thoughts?
I've noticed a new item on the raw food shelves at the health food store lately, a low glycemic, coconut sweetener/sugar. I wonder if anyone out there has tried it or has any feedback about it? I'd love to hear your thoughts...Could this the new agave? :)
I've heard of it. Never tried it. Am curious, and just may some day.
It's not likely to be raw. I would think it would be processed much like maple crystals. But that is a guess, being that they are both sap.
I bought it, tried it, love it and then looked into it. I found it in the raw food section, under the manufacturers logo it says "raw and wholesome foods". I went to the website and they have a list of their foods and what categories they fit in, such as organic, kosher, raw. Coconut sugar isn't raw, too bad. The brand was something that had the word Earth in it. I can't remember now. However, I also learned that their cacao powder isn't raw, but my local hf store stocks it in the raw section, it must be due to the "raw and wholesome foods" saying.
I purchased a bag of coconut crystals aka "palm sugar" from "Earth Family Foods" purchased from "organiclivingfood.com" and it is not raw to my knowledge but it is supposedly low GI and therefore more suitable to diabetics than some other sweeteners. Coconut sugar is good for vegan baking or a semi-raw recipe.
"Palm sugar was originally made from the sugary sap of the Palmyra palm or the date palm. Now it is also made from the sap of the sago and coconut palms and may be sold as "coconut sugar." The sugar is a golden brown paste, sold in tubes, blocks or tin cans. It may be light-colored or dark, soft and gooey or hard. As a lightly-processed product of cottage industry, it varies greatly from batch to batch.
In Thai cuisine, palm and "coconut sugar" (nahm dtahn bpeep/buk and nahm dtahn maprao) are used interchangeably. However, it may be an important distinction that "coconut sugar" is not derived from the coconut fruit itself. "Although the names are used interchangeably, palm sugar and coconut sugar are not the same. One comes from the palmyra or sugar palm and the other from coconut palm, but both are produced from the sweet, watery sap that drips from cut flower buds." Kasma Loha-unchit, Exploring Thai Food & Culture: Palm & Coconut Sugar
In Indonesia, sugar made from the Borassus (Palmyra palm) is known as Gula Jawa ("Javanese sugar") or gula merah (red sugar).
A bowl of Gula Melaka Sago.
Gula melaka is made by making several slits into the bud of a coconut tree and collecting the sap. Then, the sap is boiled until it thickens after which, in the traditional way, it is poured into bamboo tubes between 3-5 inches in length, and left to solidify to form cylindrical cake blocks. Alternatively it can be poured into glass jars or plastic bags. Gula melaka is used in some savory dishes but mainly in the local desserts and cakes of the Southeast Asian region. Gula Melaka Sago pudding, shown in the picture, is one of many desserts made with gula melaka. It is among some of the more popular gastronomic delights of Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) origin. This dish consists of a bland sago pudding served with gula melaka syrup. In some ways it resembles the international Creme Caramel and differ only in the ingredients used. It can be served either cold or hot. To enrich the pudding, coconut milk or 'santan' its Malay name, is added. Santan is the South-East Asian non-dairy counterpart of the dairy cream, the latter either whipped or in liquid form, is used mainly in Western cuisines but both add richness or provide viscosity when these are required.
Bangladeshis have two varieties of Palmyra sugar. One is unrefined and is in the form of hard blocks of dark brown sugar. This known as Karuppatti. This is used as a sweetener for making certain types of cakes and biscuits. The other is refined and is available as granules of crystalline sugar. This is known as Panam KaRkaNdu. This has medicinal value. It has the power to liquefy phlegm from the lungs. It is also profusely used in treatment of sore throat when dissolved in boiled concentrated milk. Musicians use it on a regular basis in combination with other medicinal spices and herbs.
Palm sugar is often used to sweeten savory food to balance out the salty flavor of fish. Its primary use in Thai cuisine is in sweets and desserts, and somewhat less often in curries and sauces."
That being said, it is quite delicious and doesn't give the horrible after-effects of typical, refined white sugar.
Thank you all for your feedback! You confirmed much of what I thought might be the case about this sweetener.
Alyssia, thank you for the amazing research you shared! Have a fabulous weekend folks,
Just found Coconut Secret (brand) Raw Coconut Crystals The process used in making it according to the label is"Low temperature vacuum evaporated" yielding a raw, enzymatically alive product. Tastes like brown sugar - is deeeeeelicious. I got it at my health food store and am looking for it online :^)
I also use Coconut Secret's crystals and nectar. Both are very good and are raw. I also get my coconut sugar from Ultimate Superfoods. Their brand is raw as well. The sugar reminds me of brown sugar too and works well in some sweet recipes but not all. The nectar has a distinct flavor that grows on you over time:)
Hello leigh star,
Yes, the Coconut Secret brand, made in the Philippines, is indeed raw. They heat the sap at 105 degrees, give or take 5 degrees, which depends on how hot it is that particular day. I called the owner to get this info. The raw coconut crystals taste better than its cooked counterpart from Indonesia, although the cooked coconut sugar still tastes pretty darn good.
The coconut palm nectar has a nice, slightly fermented flavor. You might like it, but then again, you might not. I notice it doesn't work all that well in cacao, unless you combine it agave or maple syrup to cut the fermented flavor.
Big Tree Farms was going to come out with own raw coconut sugar from Indonesia, but I heard they were having problems with the sap fermenting too much because their Muslim workers needed to take regular breaks during the day to pray in the direction of Mecca. Hopefully, they will roll out their version soon.
I cannot speak for the sugar breakdown on the Indonesian coconut sugar, but the Filipino version is 82% FOS, which stands for fructooligosaccharide. An oligosaccharide is a sugar molecule 2 to 10 molecules long. Essentially, this sweetener might somewhat preferable to agave, since it's lower in free form fructose (I believe it's only about 1% free fructose), which is highly damaging to the body. However, it is still fructose, and it will eventually break down to its monosaccharide form (albeit more slowly than free form fructose), and your body will absorb a similar amount. So it's generally healthier than agave, although probably not as healthy as maple syrup or a good quality raw honey.