Drying and Reconstituting Kaong Meat, Sugar Palm

Due to my curiosity, I set few kaong meat under the sun for drying. Those pieces were tougher than usual. I could not cut them easily with scissors. I set them aside because they were not chewable enough for enjoyment. The original plan was to dump them in garbage can.

fresh over mature kaong meatkaong meat browingI already mentioned that the meats  turned transparent brown after two days of drying. The sized reduced to almost half. It became hard that it could not be cut in between teeth.

What was next?

I guess the simple experiment is not for nothing. I dropped the rock hard kaong inside a plastic bottle. Added some water and let it stood for 24 hours.

Then.

The dried kaong reabsorbed moisture and regained their original shape. It became less tough. In fact, I enjoyed chewing them one by one. The only drawback is it was a bit darker than before.

reconstituted kaong meat in water reconstituted kaong meatImportance?

The trial was so simple but seems promising. If it can be carried out in larger scale: (1) It may ensure a significantly longer storage life.(2) Lighter transportation weight and volume. (3) May omit the need for extensive syrup preservation or the need for regular water changes for none preserved harvest. and (4) Lower product cost if items two and three are met.

Wrapping The Sugar Palm / Irok Fruits

Can someone guess why the kaong bunch is wrapped in net? I am also thinking what could be the reason. Maybe to protect it from insect pest. Too protect the thick kaong fruit rind? That is ridiculous. Based on rough observation, I have never seen any insect attacking the fruit.

sugar palm irok fruit bunch wrapped in net

Kaong fruit when not harvested for kaong meat, will continue to mature, reach the yellow color stage then fall to ground one by one. As compared to any other fruits, sugar palms’ too do not ripen at the same time. Once past its harvest maturity, fruits are going to serve either of the two purposes, germinate and grow to a irok tree or decay and serve as fertilizer.

Maybe the one who wrapped this wanted to harvest it for kaong meat processing. Such is a very sweet and tasteful delicacy. However, he missed the right timing. It was too matured when he came back to cut down the stalk.

Or maybe, the wrapper man wanted to catch all the falling fruits, collect the seeds and grow it under laboratory or nursery condition. As far as I my knowledge concern, kaong seeds grow naturally in the wild but not under human care. If this is their purpose, I wish them a good luck. I hope they become successful so we can have more sweetened kaong on dinner table.

On the second thought, those two other bunches have no wraps.

three sugar palm fruit bunches

Irok/Kaong Sugar, Taste Impression

Ohh! A kaong sugar. It is granular and appears matte golden brown. I am not a fan of this for two reasons. 1) I eat sweet things but not fond of making it sweeter if I can eat it in its flat tasting state. I prefer drinking black coffee and plain milk and even plain juice. 2) It is a healthy sugar but it is a very expensive kind. A kilo cost 400 pesos, so half kilo is 200 pesos and 250 grams is 100 pesos. If one teaspoon is equivalent to 5 grams, then each teaspoon cost two pesos. Not bad for a cup of tea. However, it is not economically feasible for making any kind of delicacy.

granulated kaong sugar

Well, this is kaong sugar. It weighs about 100 grams. It would cost me 40 pesos if it’s not free. It came from one of the best sources in the world, from the free source.

I am guessing it was cooked by the traditional tulyasi method. Placing the tulyasi filled with fresh kaong sap over wood/lpg fire then stirring it continuously until end point. The cook made a minor mistake. He did not pay attention while stirring. Some sugar of this batch got burnt. The burnt aroma is evident. It is mildly sweet and mildly sour. The sour taste might be due to quick fermentation to vinegar prior to concentration process.

If used instead in coffee preparation instead of white sugar. It needs several more teaspoons to get the same expected sweetness. And as the coffee gets sweeter, it also get more sour.

What I just said is only an expected result. It may vary base on kaong sugar quality. Depending on strictness of quality control, variation might be significant from batch to batch.

I never used the sugar for any preparation. We ate it little by little until all that is left is its plastic container.

Harvesting Kaong Sap Getting More Sophisticated

An interesting sight. Many people passing by cannot resist to look at it and wonder. A gallon of mineral drinking water is fixed on kaong tree and a portable aluminum stair is resting peacefully on the other side.

ladder mineral water kaong tree

What!?

I think it is a sophisticated way to collect kaong sap. Sap for making wine, vinegar, sugar and lambanog.

The mineral water container is supported by a wooden platform firmly attached to large trunk. Combination of polyethylene tube and pvc pipe connects the cut flower stalk to container.

collecting kaong sap modern way

The collection chamber is equipped with two small pvc water pipes. One pipe on bottom, a mean to get collected sap. The other pipe is connected to upper side. I think it is an overflow mechanism.

Advantages?

The tube connecting the stalk and collection chamber prevents any foreign matter entry resulting to cleaner sap. Provides a partial anaerobic conditions thus delaying rapid fermentation.

Getting the collected sap via drain pipe is easy. Turn the knob open and the contents flow to another container. Also, prevents contamination due to human error.

The large collection chamber. I think it is too large. It is not going to be almost full between collections. Unless the harvester do collection every two days or the variety is a good sap producer. However, larger is still better than medium down to too small.

The upper overflow pipe. In case the above paragraph is true, excess sap will fall to ground (tuba for the mother nature) and prevents damage to collection tube.

Nice idea, I supposed. Hope it really results to a better quality kaong sap and products. And be disseminated to help uplift the livelihood of kaong farmers.

The setup is part of Dr. Jun Lapitan’s kaong project, Cavite State University.

Research Paper – Harvesting Process For Kaong/ Irok

I was surfing the web when I accidentally saw this article. I am happy cause my name is written on research paper. We did the research when I was still working at Cavite State University. Thanks to PCARRD-DOST for publishing the research results. You can read the article below or go to PCARRD website.

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Best Harvesting Process For Sugar Palm Identified

Indang, Cavite — Researchers from Cavite State University (CvSU) identified the frequency of slicing the stalk and time of harvest as control points in harvesting sugar palm (Arenga pinnata Wurmb). research paper logo

Fe Dimero, Marvin Vicedo, and Mark Mojica of CvSU conducted a study to find out the best harvesting process for sugar palm. The researchers recommend that twice a day slicing of the inflorescence trunk during collection must be practiced to maintain high volume of harvested sap.

Slicing the stalk twice a day significantly increased the volume of harvested sap compared with slicing only once a day and no tapping. The physico-chemical as well as the sensory properties of the sugar palm sap was not affected.

During collection, the researchers used three types of containers—open containers hung on the stalk, covered containers, and bamboo pipes. They found out that the collection vessel has no significant effect on the sap collected. Results indicated that incidence of contamination during harvest was very low. This means that the collection vessel is not considered as a control point.

The sap collected during the night was more acidic and had more soluble solids than the sap from the day collection. Thus, time of sap collection was considered a control point in harvesting sugar palm sap.

Based on the properties of the sugar palm sap, sap collected during the night is best for vinegar production while those collected during the day can be best used for juice, syrup, and sugar production.

Sugar palm is the source of a sweet sap, locally known as “tuba.” The sap is taken from the cut stalk of the male inflorescence by a process called tapping. This process involves slightly beating the inflorescence stalk followed by a series of stalk slicing for continuous flow of sap. Day and night collection of sap is done to ensure continuous collection.

This information was presented during the Research and Development (R&D) Symposium of the Southern Tagalog Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (STARRDEC) in Region IV held in Calapan City, Mindoro. STARRDEC is the consortium of R&D agencies in Region IV organized by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD). (Leila C. America, S&T Media Service)

How to Collect Sap from Sugar Palm (irok)

sap-collection-container

Sugar palm sap  or juice can be processed to alcohol, vinegar, juice, sugar and syrup.  A good quality sap is necessary in order to produce high quality products. The following steps are useful to obtain high quality sugar palm sap.

sap-collection-container

1. Harvest sap from male flower. The sap from female inflorescence is of inferior quality. Male flower will rot after blooming while female flower will yield fruits that can be processed into sweet delicacy. To differentiate, male flower is color violet while female is color green.

2. Prepare the flower before tapping. Clean the stalks from bracts  and dirt. Rock the stalk once a day everyday until the flower attracts hundreds of fruit flies. Then beat the stalk lightly with stick until it become swollen. Cut the stalk just above the highest flower bud. This process can increase chances of getting a good drip from the stalk.

3. Get a wide-mouth plastic container. Hang it just below the tip of cut stem. Cover it with plastic to prevent insects and impurities from entering. The juice will begin to drip from stem apex.

4. Harvest it twice a day, early morning and late afternoon. For every collection,  slice 5 mm of apex to maintain continuous drippings.  Juice quantity increases during rainy seasons and decreases during summer. It also decreases as the apex get closer to base.

5. Filter harvest with cheesecloth and transfer to clean container.

6. The sap turns quickly to alcohol and vinegar. It is essential to pasteurize it to arrest fermentation if the intended products are juice drink, sugar and syrup.