Coconut Sugar is a natural, high energy food source made by collecting sweet sap from the flowering stem at the top of the coconut tree called an inflorescence. The inflorescence is carefully clipped and then bent into a bamboo container for collection. Twice a day, these trees are climbed and bamboo containers switched out. It is usually the men and sons who do this, and to watch them climb the trees is amazing! The collected sap is transported into a tiled, clean kitchen where it is brought to a light simmer to concentrate the sugars. Once crystals begin to form, the solution is removed from the heat and crystallization of the entire basin occurs rapidly. The women working in the kitchen grind the crystals while they are still moist, to break them into very small, fine grains. These grains are packaged into 10 kg bags and transported to the Quality Control Center. The over 700 families who make this Coconut Sap sugar, all bring their products here where it is further dried and tested for moisture content, particle size and microbes. It is from this site, that ocean going containers arrive and are filled with product bound for America. Recently I have seen articles stating that the collection of coconut sap is harmful to coconut trees and affecting coconut oil and coconut milk production. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Coconut Sap Sugar is light brown color and an all-natural sweetener that tastes a bit like brown sugar but has all the natural goodness of coconut water. Coconut Sugar can be used to sweeten any of your favorite beverages, sauces, marinades or dishes. Most people use it as a replacement for white, refined sugar in their recipes. The Collection of Coconut Sap for Coconut Sugar & Vinegar Coconut Sugar and Coconut Vinegar are both made from the Sap of the Coconut Tree. This sap is collected twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem (called the florescence) and bending it into a collection vessel (usually a bamboo tube with a plug in the bottom). The slow drip of sap into this collecting vessel is similar to the slow drip into the coconuts as they mature. This is not taxing on the tree in any way. All coconut trees continuously make new coconuts, and are accustomed to a nonstop flow: drawing moisture up from the roots into their trunk, and on to the leaves and maturing coconuts. At any point in time a particular coconut tree will have flowers, tiny new coconuts, coconuts that are 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months. .old, up to 12 months old. Coconuts are typically between 12 and 14 month old when they drop from the tree as mature coconuts ready to sprout and start a new tree. People who harvest coconuts from their trees typically collect them every 2-4 weeks all year long. When coconut trees are used to collect sap, they then become a "sap tree" and no longer are allowed to produce coconuts. The amount of trees in the Philippines used for the collection of sap is very small -less than 1% of the total coconut trees in that country. Harvesting the sap allows small farmers to make value added products that help them earn better wages. Normally, the trees that are used for sap production are already quite old (generally over 50 years old) and their production of coconuts has gone down. This is why most tapped trees for sap are very tall, which means they have to climb very high to collect the sap, but these trees are still strong and hardy. I was able to go to some of the farms that create the coconut sap sugar and I noticed that the majority of the trees tapped for sap were around the homes. This serves several purposes: First, it is important to know that each year more people are killed by coconuts hitting them on the head than by lightning strikes. Harvesting all coconut trees around the house as sap trees makes the yard area safer for the children, family members, their animals and guests. Secondly, because these trees need to have their sap collected twice a day and all processing takes place in the home, using the trees around the house makes it much more convenient. Finally, having the big older trees around the house offers shade from the hot tropical heat and it is not feasible to cut them down and plant new trees. I also saw sap collection going on in the grassy park-like areas around hotels and parks. Here again, I believe it is because of consideration for safety, and yet these trees offer both shade and sap to their care-giver/owners. While in Indonesia and the Philippines I was able to view trees that have been tapped for over 10 years. The trees appeared both strong and healthy. Wilderness Family Naturals feels it is nice to have all the products that can be made from the coconut tree: Coconut Oil, Dehydrated Coconut, Coconut Spreads, Coconut Milk, Coconut Water, Coconut Cream, Coconut Sap Sugar, Coconut Vinegar, etc., and it is nice that there are different farmers who produce different products. In addition, it is wonderful to see the impact we are having on so many communities.
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