How to Make Kaong Sugar, Sugar Palm

Sugar palm or kaong is abundant along river banks of Philippine archipelago. It has sweet yummy sap coming from its cut male flower. It has sugar content ranging form 10 to 20 degrees Brix. This characteristic makes it possible to process it into sugar. Kaong sugar is healthier compared to regular sugar and other substitute. It has low glycemic index (GI) of 35. Having low GI value, it is safe for diabetics. Kaong sugar can be use for coffee, tea, baking and cooking.

Low-GI foods are slow to digest and absorb. This cause gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. It was shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

To produce kaong sugar:

1. Get freshly harvested kaong sap. The taste should be sweet, not alcoholic and not sour. Alcoholic and sour taste are results of fermentation. This occurrence will prevent you in achieving powdered kaong sugar. Color should be white, not yellow or gray. If refractometer is available, the sugar content should be between 10 to 20 degree Brix.

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2. Boil the sap to evaporate the water under moderate heat with occasional stirring until the sap thickens at 115 degree centigrade.

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3. Turn off the heat when it become very sticky or powdered sugar is achieved. Test can be done by scooping a small sample and cooling it immediately inside refrigerator.

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4. Continue stirring until the sugar become granular. Pass through slow speed grinder to attain fine and uniform powder. High speed grinder may produce heat enough to melt and caramelize your sugar.

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5. Air dry the sugar and pack. Label properly.

Depending on sugar content of harvested sugar palm sap, one kilo of sugar can be obtained from eleven liters of sap. Approximate cost of eleven liters sap is 90 pesos. However, you may spend a lot on fuel cost especially if you are using liquefied petroleum gas. Using alternative fuel such as rice hulls, corn ears and dried woods may save fuel consumption.

"No Artificial Preservatives Added" Declaration

The term “No Artificial Preservatives Added” is becoming popular in television commercials. The seal can be found on some popular foods claiming that its free from any artificial preservatives. Sounds good because more and more individuals are becoming health conscious. They don’t want any artificial preservatives in their diets.
I bought an instant noodles.”No Artificial Preservatives Added” is printed on front label . I cooked and ate it without any hesitations. While eating, I inspected the label for any possible preservatives or food additives. Don’t be confused.  Food preservatives are added to foods for the purpose of extending its shelf life while food additives can be color enhancer, flavor enhancer, texture enhancer, anti-oxidant or a preservative.
I found the following:
1. Salt  –  The primary function is to enhance food flavor. It also acts as natural preservative. Normal consumption does not render any harmful effects. Although excess consumption is bad for our liver.
2. Monosodium Glutamate – It is a flavor enhancer made by fermentation of carbohydrate. Popular for giving food the umami flavor. I heard many testimonies about its bad effects but there are no solid evidences yet.
3. Sugar – Another natural preservative and flavor enhancer. Like salt excess intake is harmful to your health.
4. Artificial Chicken Flavor – I don’t know the specific chemical term because it was not mentioned.
5. Flavor enhancer – Its a general term for food additives with the purpose of improving food flavors. United State Food and Drug Administration mandates that ingredients labeling should be very specific. General terms are not allowed.
6. Carbonates – Yet another general term . It can be calcium carbonate, potassium carbonate or sodium carbonate. I was confused.
7. Sodium tripolyphosphates – It is mainly used  in detergents and soap. Also act as preservatives. No proven harm to human yet.
8. Stabilizer –  A chemical that is added to a solution or mixture or suspension to maintain it in a stable or unchanging state. In short, it is a food preservative. Another general term.
9. Vitamin A – One of the essential vitamins.
10. Tartrazine – Known as E number E102 or C.I. 19140. A synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring. May cause allergic reactions.
11. Sunset yellow – Sulfonated version of Sudan I, a possible carcinogen, which is frequently present in it as an impurity
12. Tocopherol – Known as vitamin E. It acts as anti-oxidant.
Various chemicals may be found safe for human consumption but the long term effects are hard to assess. Research may take years, decades and centuries. It might be too late before you know it.
no-artificial-preservatives-logo

A Worm on Fruits and Vegetables Can Save Lives!

My father is a farmer, planting different crops such as mango, santol, banana, ampalaya and pechay. He starts by cultivating the soil . Remove all weeds that might compete with the crop for soil water and nutrients. Burn the soil to kill microorganisms, nematodes and other pests.  He chooses the best seed possible. During the crop growth, He sprays pesticides to prevent insect infestation. Apply commercial fertilizer for maximum harvest volume.

Commercial farming involves more extensive practices. Application of pesticides and fertilizers  is done on regular basis. This results in good  harvest, produce free from insect bites, worms and lesions.  Most of end users choose good quality fruit and vegetables. We don’t want fruits with holes, pechay with insect cuts or mango with rusts. How many of us are aware that these good looking goods are product of heavy commercial pesticides and fertilizers? How many of us know that  vegetables we eat might bring us diseases or even bring us to death?

What will you do if you see a small worm on a head of cabbage? Are you going throw it away ? Or , are you going to remove the worm and continue cooking it? If I am on your situation, I am going to remove the worm and continue cooking my head of cabbage. What is my reason behind?

How did the worm survive on head of cabbage? This means that farmer who grew the cabbage did not spray any chemicals  on his farm. The worm survived because the cabbage is free from any poisonous chemicals. We can conclude that if the worm survived eating the cabbage the more a human will survive eating the same cabbage. Any violent reactions?

Dirt brought by insects to fruits can easily be removed by cutting off the damaged portion or by washing it thoroughly in running water. On the other hand, formalin sprayed on vegetables cannot be easily removed by washing. This formalin as well as other chemicals might penetrate the inside flesh of vegetables .  Removing chemical residues from this vegetables might entail throwing it whole.

Eating contaminated fruits and vegetables might not harm us. But repeated consumption might concentrate harmful chemicals in our body and injure us later. Now! Are you still afraid of worms?

GABA Rice

GABA rice is made by soaking brown rice in water at temperature of 30 to 40 degree Centigrade for 20 hours. Temperature can be maintained by placing incandescent bulb on top of soaked rice.  Rice will partially germinate giving it much fuller shape. As the rice germinates, the amount of the gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA, increases significantly. Other nutrients such as the amino acid lysine, tocotrienols, magnesium and zinc also increases. Partially germinated rice is cooked like regular rice except less water is needed.
I am having trouble making it because its hard to find brown rice as of date. Brown rice is further polished to white rice or polished rice. Polishing removes the bran and germ which contain oil that become rancid in approximately three months time. Polished rice is very stable under ambient conditions. However, further processing also removes lots of nutrients.
GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA is is classified as a neurotransmitter and helps induce relaxation and sleep. It balances the brain by inhibiting over-excitation. It contributes to motor control, vision, and many other cortical functions. Anxiety is also regulated by it. GABA may be taken as supplement but eating GABA rice  might save you from trouble of taking a lot of these supplements and  other medicine.
GABA rice helps to lower blood pressure, improve kidney function, and reduce sleeplessness. It may be helpful in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It may also inhibit leukemia cell proliferation and stimulated cancer cell apoptosis, cell death.
gaba-rice

Sugar Palm Fruit Makes You Feel Itchy !

My father used to harvest half-ripe sugar palm fruits. Immediately after picking, they were boiling the fruits to give it a soft jelly-like consistency. It is then pricked out with a short sharp stick. Soaked and washed in several changes of water for few days. The jelly-like flesh called “kaong” was ready for market. It is use for sweet delicacies.

However, that’s not the main issue . Then process mentioned above always make my body very itchy. They told me to stop talking while the process is on-going. Talking makes me feel itchy? I guessed not.

Half-ripe sugar palm fruits contains high levels of irritating oxalate crystals, calcium oxalate. It is a chemical compound that forms needle-shaped structures. It plays an important role in development of kidney stones.  Some oxalate containing foods are sweet potatoes, black indian tea, okra, chocolate, soybean crackers, peanuts, swiss chard, wheat germ, spinach, beets and rhubarb.

Oxalate crystals is poisonous when ingested. Even small doses of oxalate toxin is enough to cause intense sensations of burning in the mouth and throat, swelling, and choking.  Larger doses cause severe digestive upset, breathing difficulties,  convulsions, coma and death. Recovery from severe oxalate poisoning is possible, but permanent liver and kidney damage is irreversible.

You don’t have to worry . Oxalate crystals reside only on walls and stalk of fruits. The processed “kaong” is  safe to eat. Itching can be prevented by wearing gloves and long sleeves while processing.

itchy-sugar-palm-fruits


updated: May 2017

Medscape.com has clearer explanation regarding calcium oxalate. It is a water insoluble salt that forms a bundle of needle-like crystals called raphides. Contact with moisture causes plant cells to eject these raphides, which may come contact with skin or mucosal surfaces. Raphides longer than 180 micros are believed to be more potent. Upon skin contact, they allow entry of other irritant such as proteases, saponins etc.

So calcium oxalate is like a bunch of tiny thousand arrow traps dabbed with toxin. Water serves as trigger. Piercing effect hurts. Added toxins magnifies pain several times.