Jaggery is made of the products of sugarcane and the date palm tree.
All types of the sugar come in blocks or pastes of solidified concentrated sugar syrup heated to 200 °C (392 °F). Traditionally, the syrup is made by boiling raw sugarcane juice or palm sap in large, shallow, round-bottomed vessels.
The cut and cleaned sugarcane is crushed and the extracted cane juice is collected in a large vessel. A certain quantity of the juice is transferred to a smaller vessel for heating on a furnace.
The vessel is heated for about an hour. Dried wood pulp from the crushed sugarcane is traditionally used as fuel for the furnace. While boiling the juice, lime is added to it so that all the wood particles rise to the top of the juice in a froth which is skimmed off. Finally, the juice is thickened. The resulting thick liquid is only about one-third of the original volume.
This hot liquid is golden. It is stirred continuously and lifted with a spatula to observe whether it forms a thread or drips while falling. If it forms many threads, it has completely thickened. It is poured into a shallow flat bottomed pan to cool and solidify. The pan is extremely large to allow only a thin coat of this hot liquid to form at its bottom, so as to increase the surface area for quick evaporation and cooling. After cooling, the jaggery becomes a soft solid that is molded into the desired shape.
Jaggery used as an ingredient in sweet and savoury dishes in the cuisines of India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iran. For example, a pinch of it is sometimes added to sambal, rasam, and other staples.
Health Benefits Of Jaggery
The health benefits of this sweet treat include its ability to aid in digestion, treat constipation, boost the energy levels, and much more.
In India, it is recommended to take a few grams of jaggery after a heavy meal or after eating meat because it facilitates digestion. It activates digestive enzymes and functions like acetic acid in the stomach, thus speeding up digestion and smoothening the process, ultimately reducing strain on the intestines and the digestive tract.
You may not normally connect sweeteners and sugars with cleansing the body, but it is one of the well-proven benefits of jaggery. It effectively cleans the respiratory tracts, lungs, food pipe, stomach, and intestines.
Jaggery pulls out dust and unwanted particles from the body, while also giving relief from constipation, due to the presence of fiber in it. As it reduces constipation and stimulates bowel movements, it further cleanses the body of toxins.
We know that carbohydrates, consumed in our food, give us energy upon oxidation. The simpler the carbohydrate, the sooner the energy is released. This simplicity comes as a blessing for athletes and people suffering from serious fatigue because they need instantaneous energy and quick relief. Therefore, sugar and glucose are proper carbohydrates for them, because they get absorbed into the bloodstream immediately to give a quick burst of energy.
Rich in Minerals
Unlike sugar, jaggery is rich in minerals, mainly iron but it also has traces of other mineral salts. While most of the iron comes through its processing in iron vessels, the other minerals come directly from the sugar cane juice, since the juice does not undergo refinement or bleaching of any kind. Therefore, jaggery is a very good source of minerals for the body.
There are plenty of natural and artificial sweetening agents available on the market, with good old white sugar right at the top. However, most of them are just plain sweeteners. The benefit of jaggery is that it is a colorful, tasty, and a healthy sweetener. You can experience the difference yourself. Taste plain sugar and jaggery one after another, and it will be very clear to you. Don’t limit yourself to the sugarcane flavor; go ahead and taste the date palm, palmyra jaggery or any of the other flavors available.