The Sugaring Tradition
With the coming of dawn the silhouettes of island farmers can be seen climbing high into the swaying palms, tapping the fragrant flower spikes that hang within the green fronds. The sweet nectar that bleeds from these flowers is a treasured resource. Kettle boiled over an open hearth fire within an hour of harvest the nectar slowly evaporates into a caramel sugar unlike any other. Thickened to a buttery paste, this sugar is then ladled into waiting coconut shell molds to cool and set. Subtly sweet with an almost haunting aroma of smoke and caramel, Coconut Palm Sugar is nothing short of artisanal perfection.
We love sweet… and Coconut Palm Sugars were just about the most incredible sweet we had ever experienced.
Unfortunately, traditional sugar loaves are not the easiest sugar to utilize when working in the kitchen. So we went back to the sugar shack with traditional producers in Bali Island and beyond to develop a more “user-friendly” product that could, quite literally, forever take the place of all refined sugar. We call it “semut” or ant sugar, because ants love these new tiny crystals of sugar too…perfect for carrying away to their home…a significantly harder task with the traditional large sugar loaves!
By grinding the traditional sugars and applying dry heat we’ve been able to make a fine ground Coconut Palm Sugar that can be used in place of any fine sugars.
Soft, dark and crumbly like a good Muscavado, Demerara or brown and yet, unlike these high-moisture, high-molasses content relatives, Heritage Palm Sugars are dry and remain free-flowing, rarely caking except in high humidity situations.
Today, Big Tree Farms operates a number of small cooperative maintained Sugarhouses for the production of Heritage Palm Sugars.
The Sugarhouses are essentially commercial kitchens, allowing producers to continue the tradition of small batch coconut palm sugar production and at the same time have a product that is clean, free of any contamination, and consistently of the highest quality.
Continually striving for new and exciting products that will support the now-expanding harvests of these traditional artisan producers, we began grinding sun-dried ginger family roots into the sugar…the marriage of ginger family crops and sugar has a history in Indonesia that extends well beyond written record…The result are a line of sugars unlike any other…Coconut Palm Sugar with Ginger Root is spicy and headwarming while Coconut Palm Sugar with Turmeric Root is exotic and incredibly smooth tasting…
Coupled with our original Coconut Palm Sugar these three products mark a new chapter in the world of sugar. We have yet to meet a single person who has not been bedazzled by the incredible flavor profiles of Heritage Palm Sugars.