There have been recent major awareness about the harmful side effects of consuming processed sugar consistently. People have been looking for alternatives to sweeten the recipes they have grown to love and adore and want to enjoy without sugar. A lot of artificial sweeteners are present in the market now, and people also use honey. But a very nutritional and delicious alternative to sugar is jaggery. Jaggery is a kind of unrefined sugar that is considered a superfood
Common in Africa and Asia, jaggery is extracted from palm trees or sugarcanes. It is growing in popularity to replace white sugar across the globe because of all it brings to the table. Jaggery has vitamins and minerals that make it much healthier as an alternative to white processed sugar. Regardless of its health effects, it is still sugar, and too much of it can negatively affect your health as well.
What is Jaggery?
Sugar has a granular, crystallized texture, whereas jaggery is formed into a semisolid mass. It is unrefined and has all the natural qualities of the source it comes from. It is usually golden yellow in colour and has a sweet winy fragrance. A good quality yield of jaggery will have around 70% sucrose, which is why it is considered medicinal sugar in India. Ayurvedic practitioners have been using jaggery for centuries.
Even chemically, jaggery is more complex than refined sugar. It has longer chains of sucrose. It also takes longer to digest and doesn’t release energy at the same pace as sugar. Sure, jaggery is a healthier alternative to white sugar, but it provides a very minimum amount of nutrients compared to the calories it would bring. So it is wise to not rely on extra jaggery in your meals just for nutrition’s sake. Even while it is a better alternative to sugar, it is still sugar and can have a lot of the same health drawbacks.
How is Jaggery Made?
Jaggery is made from the juice of crushing several ingredients together. The main ingredients around which the type of jaggery and its taste revolve are date palms, Palmyra palms, coconut palms, and sugarcane. The juice is then filtered to remove any impurities, and then boil the juice into a pan. For its liquid form, the boiling juice is removed from heat and citric acid is added. It is then rested in bottles for 8-10 days.
The water is entirely evaporated for the semisolid or granular kind of jaggery as the impurities are skimmed from the top. In the end, the remaining solid slush is scraped off with a wooden spoon to give desired form and shape.
Usage of Jaggery
As discussed above, jaggery is a very good replacement for white sugar and can be used for culinary purposes in cooking, baking, flavouring, and sweetening foods and drinks. According to a study, jaggery was used as a baking ingredient for making muffins. There was no discernable difference in taste, smell, or storability noticed compared with muffins made with regular sugar.
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