In My Kitchen: Coconut Sugar

I am so thrilled to be able to share about this product with you all. I know that many of you already feel that half my recipes have some unheard of ingredient (millet, quinoa, sorghum-hey, they are old friends to me!), and so I do hate to introduce yet another new product to you. But I think that you will be glad I did because….

This sugar is amazing!

What it is

Coconut sugar is a traditional sugar made from the sap of coconut flowers. It is boiled down to create either dry sugar blocks, a soft paste, or a granulated form. I should mention that the names” palm sugar” and “coconut sugar” are used interchangeably, but the sugars are different. This can cause a little confusion. For example, the brand I got was called palm sugar, but was actually made from coconut sugar tree flowers. Since I don’t know the value of palm sugar, I just look at the ingredient list to make sure it’s made from coconut trees.

What It Tastes Like

The brand I have tried (put out by J and A importers) tastes much lighter than unrefined cane sugar, maple syrup, and honey, while avoiding tasting like straight sweetness. It almost tastes like it has just a tad of maple syrup in it. It’s not quite as sweet as cane sugar. It also has the advantage of not turning dishes so brown like rapadura would. Sally Fallon recommends this sugar in Eat Fat, Lose Fat, but I hadn’t tried it until recently. I am so glad that I did! It’s wonderful.

Low on the Glycemic Index

And this is exciting, it actually has a low glycemic index! This may be a good sugar for diabetes. I know that many of you like using agave syrup for it’s low GI rating, but remain concerned about reports of the damage it’s high fructose content can cause. Others of you prefer stevia, but there are definite disadvantages to that sweetener as well (taste, for one).

This sugar’s GI index is at a low 35 (anything under 55 is considered low). Agave syrup’s GI rating seem to vary from 27-41, so coconut sugar is very comparable. And coconut sugar has the advantage of being a traditional sugar too.

I wondered if coconut sugar would have the same characteristics of agave syrup by having a high fructose content, but apparently it doesn’t (which is good news).

The composition of coconut sugar (also known as gula kelapa, jaggery or gur) obtained from three locations in Indonesia was determined using HPLC. Sucrose was the major component of all samples (70-79%) followed by glucose and fructose )3-9% each). Minor variations in sugar content between samples were observed, probably due to differences in processing, raw material quality and variety of coconut (Pumomo, 1992).Source

Full of Minerals

On this article, you can see the comparison of one brand of coconut sugar to brown cane sugar to see the nutrient difference (coconut sugar is much higher) plus more information.

Where to Find It

I have found a source for very, very cheap coconut sugar at my local ethnic store (I think it’s Korean). It only costs a few dollars for a quart. So the other advantage is price. It’s very cheap. Check out your local ethnic stores, and I bet you will find it too.

The two common forms of coconut sugar I have found at my store are the pasty type in the jar

and the rock solid one, which you have to grate to use.

Obviously the softer kind is much easier to use, and that’s what I recommend you get.

But there is one other form that I have seen online, that looks more like a granulated form. It can have a slight caramel taste from what I am told. The kind I get tastes very light, so I am curious to see what these other brands taste are like.  So even if you can’t find it locally, there are many online places you can buy it at.

I am still just starting to experiment with it, but everything I have made with it have turned out beautifully! I hope to share some recipes using it soon.

The last advantage? When buying coconut sugar, you help small farmers too!

The following two tabs change content below.
I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Latest posts by KimiHarris (see all)

Comments

  1. JC says

    I know this is an old post. But someone made a comment that she is type one diabetic. Then went on to say that diabetics can’t have sugar. That couldn’t be further from the truth and adds to the misinformation out there about type one. I dare you to post that kind of statement over at childrenwithdiabetes.com and you will be educated with the responses. There is a huge difference between type one and type two diabetes. We all should be eating a healthy diet but type 1 diabetics don’t have to limit themselves to artificial sweetners. They just need to cover what they eat with insulin.

  2. Allan Smith says

    I am a baker and i only use muscovado sugar as it is healthier and tastier than other sweeteners. I’ve tried coconut sugar because of it’s low glycemic content, but i ended up doubling the dosage because coconut sugar does not give a consistent taste, and it is not too as delicious as compared to sugar-cane based sweeteners. Coconut sugar has a glycemic level of 35, muscovado sugar has about 60. I end up doubling the dosage of coconut sugar (equal to GL 70) every time I bake due to lack of consistency in flavor. Muscovado is very consistent with the taste it gives off, and with a GL 60-65, it is definitely still the healthy alternative for those who doesn’t have too much to risk. Like what I always say, as with anything, too much of something is not good for you. So take everything in moderation.

  3. elizabeth says

    I LOVE IT! my husband has an extreme reaction – perhaps allergic – to refined cane sugar. we generally use honey as an alternative but that, too, has its disadvantages in our home. i do a lot of baking and for this thanksgiving took a trip to our local co-op where i discovered coconut sugar in the bulk foods section. without doing much research i purchased a big bag full assuming it came from coconuts – something we consume large quantities of!

    i used it to make our cranberry sauce, pumpkin loaf, pumpkin pie, bread… all of it coming out nearly perfect and causing NO bad reactions whatsoever! i am THRILLED to have found this new product which has essentially opened up a trillion doors in my home for cooking and baking.

  4. Andrew Gibs says

    “CHEMICALLY PROCESSED COCONUT SUGAR”

    ASEAN Food Journal 14 (1): 45-49 (2007)
    COCONUT SUGAR & SYRUP ANALYSIS – The Standard Processed In Indonesia
    Purnomo, H., Department of Animal Food Science and Technology,
    Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Brawijaya University Malang, East Java, Indonesia

    Fresh sap, sap syrup and coconut sugar samples were obtained from the coconut plantation and coconut sugar processor in Java, Indonesia. The samples were taken at random after morning and afternoon tapping, and then processed into sap syrup (75 Brix) and coconut sugar. Chemical preservatives of sodium metabisulphite (metabisulfite) or limestone (Ca(OH)2) solution of 1000 ppm concentration was added as preservative during the processing of fresh sap into syrup and coconut sugar. Refference: http://psasir.upm.edu.my/799/1/45-49.pdf

    As mentioned above, collection of coconut nectar or sap is every after morning and afternoon or only twice a day (every 12 hours). At that length of time the coconut nectar/sap is already fermented or turned into vinegar which is already light sour. Fermented coconut sap/nectar cannot be granulated anymore into sugar. However with the help of “CHEMICAL” called METABISULPHITE (metabisulfite) as Chemical Preservatives, coconut sap/nectar has delayed its fermentation and can be granulated, but it has noticeable different flavor & aroma, light to medium sour taste & odor and in can affect the Glycemic index. Coconut sap with preservatives is also needs to cook longer time and at higher temperature and become over cooked with darker color of brown to dark brown coconut sugar with burned nutrients and high ash content.

    “CHEMICAL FREE and 100% NATURAL GRANULATED COCONUT SUGAR” – is only obtain through collecting coconut nectar/sap in every 5 hours round the clock which only the way to make granulated coconut sugar that free from “CHEMICAL PRESERVATIVES OR ADDITIVES”

    WHAT IS SODIUM METABISULPHITE (metabisulfite)
    It is used as a preservative and antioxidant in food and is also known as E223. It may cause allergic reactions in those who are sensitive to sulfites, including respiratory reactions in asthmatics, anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

    SODIUM METABISULPHITE (metabisulfite) for Sanitization / Cleaning agent. It is commonly used in homebrewing and winemaking to sanitize equipment. It is used as a cleaning agent for potable water reverse osmosis membranes in desalination systems. It is also used to remove chloramine from drinking water after treatment. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_metabisulfite

    andrew.gibs@yahoo.com

  5. Hols says

    I have been cooking with coconut sugar, coconut flour, and gluten free oat flour. I’m making great baked goods and still losing weight.
    You have to tweek the recipe but its worth it.

  6. Bittersweet says

    I just bought some of the granulated coconut sugar, and it has a resemblance to a kind of brown sugar I had once but can’t remember the name of. But, it has a very mild taste, not acidic like most sugar has.

  7. glenna says

    Curious as to the ratio for coconut sugar to sugar in baking. Would you use equal amounts in your recipes?

  8. Ivonne says

    I found solid brown-sugar type disc of palm sugar in an Asian market here
    and I grate them when needed. I love the mild taste and if its as healthy as they
    say, I will be experimenting w/ it too in my baking. I have been eating a green
    papaya salad since last yr and found them to be very addictive., the sweetner in it
    is sugary palm., its delicious & mild. A little goes a long way. Try it! Share some
    recipes when you can, love to try yours., my blood sugars have been climbing recently
    and desperate to try safer ingredients in my food related to sugars..thanks

  9. Joe says

    Sugar is sugar. Palm sugar is mostly sucrose, just like table sugar, and breaks down in the body to glucose and fructose, the later of which has a comparatively low GI, but is bad for your liver and the leading suspect in most cases of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and any number of cancers. The micronutrients in honey and palm sugar and other un- and less-refined sugars are a bonus, but at the end of the day, sugar is sugar is sugar, and it is unhealthy.

  10. Evie says

    Hey Kimi :-). I got some coconut sugar on sale at New Seasons and would like to know what the ratio is to regular sugar when substituting it in a recipe?

  11. Cheryl Ann says

    Just getting onto the coconut bandwagon and so far I am loving everything about coconut. Coconut sugar is something I am going to try. Thanks for all the information. I am a baker by trade (retired) and I love to bake but want to keep my weight down and as I am diabetic sugar is something I need to watch along with fats. Thanks Cheryl Ann

  12. says

    I use coconut sugar for a “out of this world” healthy raw chocolate recipe that I make for Christmas every year & the advantage is that it will melt unlike the date sugar that the recipe orginally called for.

  13. says

    I buy coconut oil products from tropical traditions. They are concerned about the production of the oils if we demand sugar. Interesting view point-valid concern!!!!

  14. Kirk May says

    Coconut Palm sugar that is sold in Asian markets in paste or solid forms can often be cut with cane sugar. Safest is to buy an organic brand that is granulated. There are now a few brands on the market.

  15. says

    I wouldn’t say it’s cheap. I found it at our local store for $5.49 per lb when brown sugar is $ 0.89 per pound at the same store…
    Though, it’s expensive I buy it from time to time and I LOVE IT.

  16. Susan says

    Please make sure you are using “Coconut Sugar” and not the sugar that has “Palm Sugar” added to the name, “whatever palm sugar” should not be confused with just “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. If is “whatever palm sugar” that means they are damaging the trees (palms) to make the sugar.

  17. Kate says

    Regarding the sustainability question:

    I just bought some granulated coconut sugar at a health food store, and the package claims that it is harvested sustainably.

    • says

      Surely if it’s made from cutting the flower buds then it’s not sustainable,as the coconuts never form if you cut the flower buds off the tree.

  18. susan g says

    I have just recently started using coconut palm sugar…my husband takes sugar in his coffee and I wanted a healthy alternative. My question is if anyone has had problems with their stomach after using this type of sweetener? My husband has developed some rather “loose bowels” and we can’t figure out what is causing this problem. This is the only thing new to his diet….just curious if anyone else has noticed a difference.

    • Deborah says

      Your husband may well have a sensitivity to coconut. Most people will not have this problem, but like any food, there are always a few people in the population who are sensitive to it.
      If he is having digestive issues as a result of using the coconut sugar, he should avoid it and probably all coconut products, as it is obviously causing inflammation, which is not healthy at all.

      • Terry says

        I just started using Organic Coconut Palm Sugar and I’m having loose stools. And I adore coconut. Coconut is not new to my diet, but coconut sugar is.

  19. Shari says

    I know it tastes good, but you NEED to know that this is going to affect all the rest of the products made from coconuts . What no one is warning consumers about is that coconut palm trees cannot produce both coconuts and coconut palm sugar! When the sap used to make coconut palm sugar is collected from the flower bud that will eventually form a coconut, that tree can no longer produce coconuts! Think about that for a minute. No coconuts = no coconut oil, no dried coconut, no coconut flour. Is coconut sugar worth giving up these other valued products that come from the coconut??

    • Deborah says

      I did read articles which disputed this claim. They even claim that because a coconut tree produces several flower stalks, one can be cut for sugar production and others can be left for fruit production. I do not know enough about the biology of the coconut tree myself, yet, to say which, if either party is correct.
      I will have consult with my colleagues in the plant biology department.

  20. says

    J’Adore Coconut Sugar! Just used it, but actually heard of it a couple of years ago. I was using Agave, but started having a weird reaction. My face would itch a little and I would get these tine little itchy reactions. Started Coconut Sugar Yesterday, and so far so good. I would be alright with Agave if I used it minimally, and I liked the taste much more than honey. The thing is… I like sugar in my morning tea – which seemed to begin to be too much. Thanks for this post.

  21. says

    Thank you for this post! I use coconut sugar all the time…both my kids, hubby and I love it! But I was tired of reading or hearing how its not good for coconut oil production and everyone being concerned about using up all the coconut trees! I still used it despite peoples complaints but I am So glad you settled that….we will gladly continue to use it 🙂 Love your blog!

  22. says

    I have never used coconut sugar in my cooking but would love you to write another post on how to use it as an ingredient in your recipes. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *