Palm sugar is a natural sweetener made from the sap of coconut palm trees. It has a mild caramel flavor and is used in Southeast Asian, African, and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Palm sugar is a sweetener derived from the sap of flowers growing on sugar palm trees. It’s made by boiling the sap with water to a thick mass and cooling it. The hardened sugar can range from a light beige color to dark brownish-black.
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What Is Palm Sugar
Palm sugar, also known as Gula Melaka, Jaggery, and Nam Tan Pip, is a minimally processed sugar derived from the sap of palm trees. It has the same calories and nutritional content as cane sugar but a lower glycemic index and tends to be more expensive than table sugar. It’s used extensively in Southeast Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes, from cooking to desserts, baking, and drinks.
Coconut sugar, or coconut palm sugar, is a different type made from the stems of the coconut tree’s budding flowers. Palm trees don’t necessarily produce fruit.
What Does It Taste
It’s sweet with hints of caramel flavor. It’s less sweet than cane sugar.
How To Use
It’s available as a block, granular, and in liquid form. You can replace it with regular sugar, but depending on its form, you may need to run it through a food processor to make the grains fine.
You can use the liquid form like maple syrup, and pour it over waffles and pancakes.
Where To Buy
You can find it at Asian, Middle Eastern, and some health food stores.
As it’s unrefined, it contains some nutritional content such as fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, manganese, and copper. It also has a low GI (glycemic index) compared to regular sugar, making it less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Although it’s often marketed as a healthier alternative to white sugar as it contains minerals and vitamins absent in refined sugar, it contains the same calories and carbohydrates. It’s still a type of sugar, so use it in moderation.
For a similar sticky consistency and complex flavor profile, use brown sugar, maple sugar or maple syrup, date sugar, or a combination of white sugar and molasses or honey.