So yesterday, I had to go purchase jaggery. Instead of going to my usual grocery shop. I landed up at a near by shop.Guess what,The shopkeeper had jaggery but it was bright orange.I then visited the next shop they had bright yellow jaggery.
That reminded me of my trip to Kolhapur where I actually landed up visiting the local jaggery producer to understand how jaggery is made and sold.The jaggery he had was of two colors.One pale whitish brown version and one darker lump.
But looking at the colorful jaggery available here.I just had to cover the topic of Jaggery…
What is Jaggery?
It is a simple unrefined natural sugar containing sucrose, iron, traces of minerals and salts.
In India, we mainly use cane sugar jaggery.Its either done manually or through machines.
- Sugarcane juice is extracted using Traditional crushers or machines.
- The juice is then subjected to heat.In case of traditional method, the juice is heated in iron vessels and is monitored while in machine made there are machine that are programmed to certain temperature and the juice is evaporated in it.
- Depending on the texture and color of the jaggery required it is heated to a particular temperature and only experts can determine when its best done.
- Once the jaggery production is almost done its poured into molds and allowed to cool.
- Then packed and sold.
Taste: It is sweet to taste.But the sweetness varies depending on the quality of the cane juice used.The organic or traditionally made jaggery has a distinct taste of its own because of the way its made and the other nutrients present in it.
Texture: Available right from semi liquid to solid lumps to granule/powdered form.Depending on the kind and level of processing done the texture varies.
Color: Good quality Cane jaggery is mainly available right from golden brown to dark brown.Most often the organic or traditionally made jaggery is dark brown in color.The dark varieties of jaggery are the best.
Anything that is bright yellow or orange or any other color.Beware, its either adulterated or chemically processed(Like the lighter version that i saw in Kolhapur was chemically processed).The adulterants that are mainly used consists of sodium bicarbonate/Zinc Formaldehyde Sulphoxylate/sodium hydrophosphide/calcium carbonate.All of these effect the color of jaggery and are mainly used in getting the lighter or brighter shades in jaggery.
*I actually purchased the bright orange and yellow jaggery.The texture was different.It was barely sweet.Where i normally have to use 1 tbsp of powdered jaggery/ small lump of jaggery i had to actually use around 50-60 gms to get the same sweetness.
Health benefits:If the jaggery is made by the traditional method, its rich in iron and other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, manganese,zinc etc .It has a cooling effect on the body.Energy booster.Having said this, if you are a diabetic or have medical issues or are on a weightloss journey make sure you consume jaggery only if your doctor/Dietitian/Nutritionist permits it.
Usage: Widely used in Indian cuisine and in preparation of several Ayurvedic preparations.
Anyways, So next time you go in to buy jaggery go in for the darker version and preferably buy it directly from the producer or a good source.Go local….