The Making of Sweetened Kaong

It was my first time cooking a sweetened kaong. I looked over the web for an established procedure with no success. It seems the information about it is rare. I asked mom and dad and they told me the traditional practice.

two kilograms kaong meatEach kilogram of kaong should be added with one kilogram sugar. The sugar should be dissolved and cooked first in water before adding the kaong meat. That is to prevent too long cooking time which causes unnecessary toughening.

Cooking time and amount of water were not declared so I need to do the guessing myself.

I washed the kaong meat several times to remove the sour smell. Kaong meat are kept in tumblers with water. The water is changed once a day every day to avoid souring.

I cut each meat into three to four parts depending on original size, using scissors. The meat was slippery and hard to held. I got used to it after a while. The job would have been faster if I have a tool similar to egg slicer.

chopped kaong meatTo approximate the amount of water needed, I transferred the kaong meat to cooking vessel. Added water just enough to make the kaong float. Scooped out all the meat. Set the stove flame to low and slowly added two kilograms sugar while stirring. I let the solution boil until it was down to previous original volume (the amount just before addition of sugar). I dropped all the kaong meat and continued boiling for another 15 minutes.

the sweetened kaong meatProblems encountered:

The product was perhaps harvested by a novice kaong meat harvester. Some were too hard that I could not cut it with scissors. Some were too soft, not even worth slicing. Some had the right chewy texture. How I wish all had the right chewy texture.

three kaong meat with different softness

 

The above image shows three kaong meats with different hardness. From left to right – toughest, chewy and softest.

After adding the kaong meat, the water became too much and less viscous and the kaong became less. Perhaps the too soft meats disintegrated. I scooped the excess syrup and added more sugar to compensate for the loss sweetness.

The vessel I used was also the one I used to roast the dried chili. Sister said she washed it thoroughly several times but a residual chili flavor seemed left behind and mixed with the sweetened kaong. The result was a sweet kaong with mild chili after taste. It was unexpected nice result.

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

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 Make Kaong Sugar, Sugar Palm

kaong-sap-boiling

Sugar palm or kaong is abundant along river banks of Philippine archipelago. It has sweet yummy sap coming from its cut male flower. It has sugar content ranging form 10 to 20 degrees Brix. This characteristic makes it possible to process it into sugar. Kaong sugar is healthier compared to regular sugar and other substitute. It has low glycemic index (GI) of 35. Having low GI value, it is safe for diabetics. Kaong sugar can be use for coffee, tea, baking and cooking.

Low-GI foods are slow to digest and absorb. This cause gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. It was shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

To produce kaong sugar:

1. Get freshly harvested kaong sap. The taste should be sweet, not alcoholic and not sour. Alcoholic and sour taste are results of fermentation. This occurrence will prevent you in achieving powdered kaong sugar. Color should be white, not yellow or gray. If refractometer is available, the sugar content should be between 10 to 20 degree Brix.

kaong-sap-boiling

2. Boil the sap to evaporate the water under moderate heat with occasional stirring until the sap thickens at 115 degree centigrade.

sticky-sap

3. Turn off the heat when it become very sticky or powdered sugar is achieved. Test can be done by scooping a small sample and cooling it immediately inside refrigerator.

granular-kaong-sugar

4. Continue stirring until the sugar become granular. Pass through slow speed grinder to attain fine and uniform powder. High speed grinder may produce heat enough to melt and caramelize your sugar.

kaong-sugar-in-jar

5. Air dry the sugar and pack. Label properly.

Depending on sugar content of harvested sugar palm sap, one kilo of sugar can be obtained from eleven liters of sap. Approximate cost of eleven liters sap is 90 pesos. However, you may spend a lot on fuel cost especially if you are using liquefied petroleum gas. Using alternative fuel such as rice hulls, corn ears and dried woods may save fuel consumption.