Palm sugar was originally made from the sap of the Palmyra palm, the date palm or the sugar date palm. Now it is also made from the sap of the sago palm and the arenga pinnata (sugar palm), and may therefore also be sold as “arenga sugar“. Palm sugar is made by making several slits into the stem of a palm tree and collecting the sap.
Then the sap is boiled until it thickens.
Nipa palms grow in muddy areas near brackish water. Unlike coconut palms, they’re low-to-the-ground; their trunks actually grow horizontally beneath the surface of the earth, with branches jutting up in clumps. This makes harvesting the tuba (sap) relatively easy as the tapper doesn’t have to scale a ladder to ready the flower stalk and collect sap.
The stalk is ready for cutting when the flower’s nuts are sweet (they also taste a little coconuty). The flower is taken off about six inches from where it attaches to the stalk and, once again, mud is rubbed along its length to draw the sap out (this is the last time the stalk will be mud-rubbed).
If the tapper has accurately gauged the readiness of the stalk then sap should start flowing right away.
Palm sugar should not be confused with coconut sugar, which is made from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm, instead of from the sap of the tree itself.
Coconut sugar is not equal to palm sugar, though all Coconut Palm Sugars are palm sugars but not all palm sugars are coconut sugars.
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