"Super sweetener".That's jaggery for you.A sweetener thats become popular as a healthy replacement for sugar.Staying healthy being the urban fad of the decade jaggery has found a prominent place in people's diet. But jaggery has been an important ingredient in Indian cooking for ages and a grandma's kitchen was incomplete without it.Jaggery also known as "Gur" in India has an eminent place in traditional delicacies.
JAGGERY IS A TYPE OF UNREFINED SUGAR MADE FROM SUGARCANE
Let's have a look at how jaggery is processed. Most of the world's production of jaggery takes place in India.Jaggery is made using the traditional methods of pressing and distilling the cane juice.Its a 3 step process of Extraction,Clarification and concentration of the cane juice.
Extraction:The canes are pressed to extract the juices.The extraction is in the range of 60 to 70%.Suspended matters are removed by a cotton cloth or fine mess screen.Special care is taken while storing the canes.They are stored in a cool shady place to avoid them from drying.
Clarification of juice:The juice is allowed to rest in large containers to let the sediments settle at the bottom. It is then stained to get the clear liquid.Impurities in form of inorganic salts,fiber,various nitrogenous substances,wax are removed partially or totally in this process.
The juice is taken in large pan and heated up.Slowly dissolved air escapes and a gummy substance get coagulated by adding clarificants as required. It surfaces on the top of the juice known as scum and it is removed by perforated strainers .70°C to 80° is the typical temperature required during boiling of the juice.Small quantity of lime juice is added to reduce the acidity of the juice.Special care is taken not to make it neutral because taste and colour of the jaggery produced shall be inferior.
Concentration of juice:With vigorous boiling clarification process is completed.Now the temperature of boiling is around 110 to 115°.Boiling takes place for about 2 to 3 hours.At a semi fluid stage the juice is transferred to moulds or containers.Its now a yellow dough like paste.This mass is allowed to cool to form a solid consistency.
The colour can range from light golden to dark brown shade .This colour and texture determines the quality of the jaggery.While in north India jaggery with amorphous texture with slightly lower sucrose content is preferred where as in south India crystalline jaggery with the characteristic yellow colour is liked.
Jaggery is available both organic and commercial form. In the manufacturing of organic jaggery special care is taken right from growing of the canes.In cultivation maximum use of natural fertilizer like cow dung are used.
The difference between organic and commercial jaggery making is in the clarification process.Organic clarificants and little amount of lime is used to decrease the acidity of the juice in organic jaggery making process. Hence it has a dark colour when compared to the commercial jaggery.
Jaggery a traditional non centrifugal cane sugar is consumed in South Asian countries and parts of America. Its a concentrated product of cane juice and often date and palm sap without the separation of molasses. Ayurveda scriptures talks about various medicinal properties ,values and uses of jaggery.So let's include jaggery in our daily lives and be benefited by its healthy halo....
Jaggery is free from chemical agents that are involved in manufacturing sugar as it is not chemically processed. Hence it has numerous natural mineral salts.The mollaces content in jaggery makes it more nutritious.Mollaces is a nutritious by-product of sugar making process and is usually removed when making refined sugar.And including the mollaces adds a small amount of micronutrients to the final product of jaggery.The micronutrients present also possess antitoxic and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Jaggery is rich in important minerals which can be made available to the masses to mitigate the problems of malnutrition and under nutrition.
Jaggery is a high calorie sweetener and as it contains minerals,proteins,glucose and fructose is known to be healthier in comparison to white sugar. A good quality Gur contains more than 70% sucrose,less than 10% of glucose and fructose,less than 5% minerals and less than 3% moisture.It has moderate amount of calcium,phosphorus and zinc,so it helps to optimum health of a person along with all its benefits.
According to sources 100 gms(approx half a cup) of jaggery may contain:
*sucrose- 65-85 gsm
*Fructose and glucose- 10-15 gms
*Iron- 11 mg
Jaggery may also contain small amount of Vitamin A,B,C,D&E and minerals including calcium,zinc,phosphorus and copper.Being loaded with antioxidants and minerals helps prevent free radicals.It acts as a detox and flushes away toxics and keeps liver clean.It helps boost resistance against infections and builds stronger immunity. Gram by gram,jaggery is nutritious and healthy.