(Feature) Is there a good alternative sweetener?

July 16, 2015 5:02 am 

By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata

MANILA, July 15 (PNA) –- I noticed that whenever I order coffee in hotels and in a certain café, they serve it with syrup placed in a small, cute glass container.

One waiter said it’s sugar syrup. While I’m aware that it’s a sweetener for my drink, I don’t know how it was produced. Is it really safe? Is it better than brown sugar?

As I was wondering what that syrup really is, I also wondered if there’s an okay alternative sweetener which people with diabetes could use. Based on my previous interview with a dietitian, artificial sweeteners are not good when put in hot water. These kind of sweeteners cause some side effect, especially to the brain, the dietitian said.

According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), there is an alternative sweetener suitable for people with diabetes and those who are pre-diabetic.

That is cocosugar. It comes from “tuba” that comes from coconut sap.

The dripping sugar is collected through the use of a supported bamboo tube. The said bamboo is usually 10 cm in diameter and 40 cm long, and can be made lighter by shaving its outer portion.

According to the DOST, the SAP flows from the cut in the coconut inflorescence from 30-60 days (depending on variety, age, season and time of collection, as well as the location).

After getting the sap, it is then boiled for up to 115 degree Celsius. As it boils, remove the scum that comes out to prevent the formulation of dark residues on final product.

Boiling the sap for 3-4 hours removes the water from it, thus leaving its sugar content.

The agency added that to prevent burning and to ensure granulation, stir the syrup continuously.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Agriculture are pushing for the standardization of cocosugar through a certification system and other initiatives. This is to ensure that international standards are met, and also to avoid the rise and demise of nata de coco, which is also a native product.

The DOST shared that PCA is considering venturing into public-private partnerships to pilot cocosugar trading centers in every province.

As for the initiatives, the DOST said these include mapping of production areas, identification of coconut varieties ideal for production, establishing community-based processing plants, and market and promotion development.

These days when the incidence of diabetes keeps on rising and the ones involved are getting younger, a good alternative sweetener may look simple, but it could be “heaven-sent” for them. (PNA)

CTB/MCCA/SSC

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