Coconut sugar (also known as coco sugar, coconut palm sugar, coco sap sugar or coconut blossom sugar) is a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar has been used as a traditional sweetener for thousands of years in the South and South-East Asian regions where the coconut palm is in abundant supply.
In some areas, predominantly in Thailand, the terms "coconut sugar" and "palm sugar" are often used interchangeably. However, coconut sugar is different both in taste, texture and manufacturing methods from palm sugar, which is made from the sap in the stems of the Palmyra palm or the Date palm.
Coconut sugar comes in crystal or granule form, block or liquid. It is essentially a two-step process. It starts with harvesting or "tapping" the blossoms of a coconut tree. Farmers make a cut on the stem and the sap starts to flow from the cut. The sap is then collected in bamboo or plastic containers. The sap collected is then transferred into large woks and placed over moderate heat to evaporate the moisture content of the sap. The sap is translucent and is about 80% water. As the water evaporates, it starts to transform into a thick syrup-like substance. From this form, it is further reduced to crystal, block or soft paste form.
The place we visited had hundreds of the coconut palm trees and in each tree the stem was cut to collect the sap in bamboo or plastic tubes. There were hundreds of trees all over the field and since the sap trickles out in drops a substantially large number of palms are required to get a reasonably good quantity of the syrup for heating, evaporation and production of sugar.
Indeed this was a fascinating experience to see the manufacture of a different form of sugar.