Coconut sugar (also known as coco sugar, coconut palm sugar or coco sap sugar) is a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar has been used as a traditional sweetener for thousands of years in the South and South-East Asian regions where the coconut palm is in abundant supply. The world's largest producers of coconuts are the Philippines and Indonesia.
In some areas, predominantly in Thailand, the terms "coconut sugar" and "palm sugar" are often used interchangeably. However, coconut sugar is different both in taste, texture and manufacture methods from palm sugar, which is made from the sap in the stems of the Palmyra palm, the date palm, the sugar date palm, the sago palm or the sugar palm.
Coconut sugar comes in crystal or granule form, block or liquid. It is essentially a two-step process. It starts with harvesting or "tapping" the blossoms of a coconut tree. Farmers make a cut on the spadix and the sap starts to flow from the cut. The sap is then collected in bamboo containers. The sap collected is then transferred into large woks and placed over moderate heat to evaporate the moisture content of the sap. The sap is translucent and is about 80% water. As the water evaporates, it starts to transform into a thick syrup-like substance known as a "toddy". From this form, it is further reduced to crystal, block or soft paste form, or it remains in this form.
Taste and flavor
Coconut sugar is subtly sweet almost like brown sugar but with a slight hint of caramel. However, since coconut sugar is not highly processed, the color, sweetness and flavor can vary depending on the coconut species used, season when it was harvested, where it was harvested and/or the way the "sap" or "toddy" was reduced.
The Glycemic Index (GI) of coconut sugar was reported by the Philippine Coconut Authority to be 35 and by that measure is classified as a low glycemic index food. However, another source measured the GI of coconut sugar to be 54.
Coconut sugar provides 16 calories per teaspoon and contains relatively low content of essential nutrients, with the exception of potassium at about 25% of the Daily Value per serving of 100 grams (approximately 25 teaspoons).
The major component of coconut sugar is sucrose (70–79%) followed by glucose and fructose (3–9%) each. Minor variations will occur due to differences in primary processing, raw material source, tree age and variety of coconut.
- Beck L (16 June 2014). "Coconut sugar: Is it healthier than white sugar, or just hype?". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Glycemic Index of Coco Sugar" (PDF). Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Republic of Philippines. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
- "GI of coconut sugar". University of Sydney, Australia. 2011.
- "Coconut palm sugar". American Diabetes Association. 2015.