Frequently Asked Questions:
IMC’s Organic Coconut Sugar tastes very similar to brown sugar but it has a softer texture with an aromatic smell and a rich caramel-roasted flavor that compliments almost anything that you add it to.
Of course not! Our sugar is made from purely Organic Coconut Palm Trees (Cocos Nucifera) from the lush green fields in Central Java. There are numerous types of palm trees and in specific, the Oil Palm tree (companies) which has been the cause of deforestation is just one of the many. Instead Coconut Trees are deemed as the ‘tree of life’ as they contribute back to the flora and fauna of the surrounding environment. These trees also are the sole source of the farmers livelihood, thus, they will never sacrifice or do anything to harm them.
Most Certainly! IMC’s Organic Coconut Sugar is a perfect 1:1 replacement for table/cane sugar and can be used anywhere regular sugar is used. In fact it is a better substitute as it is an unrefined product with added nutrients and minerals. So if you were to use 1 cup of cane sugar for your baking, all you need to do is use the same 1 cup of IMC’s organic coconut sugar.
Both are low glycemic sweeteners, yet agave is a concentrated high-fructose syrup (generally higher than High Fructose Corn Syrup), made from the starch of the agave plant. When consumed on a regular basis, high levels of fructose has been associated with fructose mal-absorption, which has been linked to obesity and diabetes. For more information on agave and its health attributes, please conduct your own research. You can also review this link to learn more.
Coconut Sugar is a Whole sweetener; unrefined and naturally high nutrient. The primary sugar composition is around 75% sucrose, which means it is metabolized the same way as cane sugar is metabolized, through the intestinal tract. Yet because Coconut Sugar is a low glycemic sweetener, the body absorbs it slowly, which means no sugar spikes and the body can burn it off through regular activity. *Sugar absorption is a complex issue and we urge you to research this for yourself to decide which is the best sweetener for your lifestyle. If you have blood-sugar health related issues, consult with your doctor before making any decision.
Contrary to common understanding, the relationship between sweeteners and glycemic response is more complicated than simply, “sugar is high glycemic”. The complication lies in the chemical composition of the sweetener. Yes, cane sugar rates as a 65 on the glycemic index and is therefore considered high glycemic, but that is 100% sucrose comprised of short chain saccharides (like refined cane sugar or table sugar).
Coconut Nectar/Sugar alternatively is an unrefined sweetener comprised of a long chain saccharides (sucrose), which is absorbed much slower by the body. Coconut nectar also has small percentages of fructose and glucose. But most importantly perhaps, significant nutrients, vitamins and over 14 important amino acids. These “other” materials, and especially the amino acids, are thought to act as a buffer to the sucrose component of the coconut sugar, thereby slowing the speed by which the sugars are absorbed into the blood stream. This slowing of the absorption process is what causes a slow down in our glycemic response to coconut sugar and therefore the lower glycemic index rating.
The freshly harvested coconut palm nectar contains, on average, between 9% – 16% saccharose (sucrose). At this level of sucrose, the nectar is only mildly sweet and cannot be used as a sweetener. In fact, at this extremely low sugar content, the watery liquid is famous for fermenting so rapidly that palm wine is produced literally overnight! It’s delicious, yet not what we’re trying to make.
In order to concentrate the sugars to make it a viable sweetener for consumption, the nectar must be boiled in order to evaporate the excess water in the nectar. Once the excess water is evaporated, the sucrose level is, on average, 75%.
TRY THIS: An easy example of this is to make your own experiment to taste the difference between a 16% sucrose solution and a 75% sucrose solution. For a 16% sucrose product, take 16 grams of sucrose (sugar) and mix with 84 grams of water. This is what a 16% sucrose product would taste and feel like. For a 75% sucrose solution, take 75% sucrose and 25% water and you will see and taste what a 75% sucrose solution is. The 16% solution is mildly sweet water where as the 75% sucrose is a concentration of sucrose, like the product you buy in the store.
For a detailed listing of nutrient comparison in all major natural sweeteners, click here. This brings you to our comparison chart, based on publicly available nutrient data.
Coconut sugar is made from liquid nectar that contains over 80% water. Therefore, this water needs to be removed to create a sugar. Other companies may choose to leave more moisture in their product, while we prefer to remove as much moisture from the coconut sugar as possible. We feel this allows more flexibility for the end user and means you’re not buying water weight!I am interested in the process by which coconut palm sugars are produced. Can you explain the process in detail?
Here’s a simplified explanation (for a more detailed explanation jump to the below FAO link):
• Coconut Tree Tappers climb up the trunks of coconut palms (up to 150’ in some cases!).
• In every canopy is a flower spike. This flower is actually called an inflorescence as it is made up of hundreds of tiny flowers that could, once pollinated, grow into coconuts.
• Coconut sugar tappers tie the inflorescences into bunches and gently slice the tip of the flower spike to create a wound.
• Under this wound, palm tappers will fix a vessel and over the course of 5-8 hours the wound will leak pure nectar.
• This pure nectar is then collected (only about .5 liter/tree per harvest) and is boiled down as fast as possible to prevent the nectar from fermenting into palm wine.
• The evaporated nectar is ready when it is thick like caramel; at this point the nectar has become coconut sugar and can be poured into molds for cooling and hardening.
• For further information on basic processing techniques used throughout SE Asia, please visit this link by the FAO – http://www.fao.org/teca/content/stove-palm-sugar-industry.While this link shares information on small farmer production, the principles of processing remain the same for large-scale production.
Coconut Sugar is produced from Coco Nucifera, the green coconut tree. Palm trees are believed to be the oldest flowering tree on the planet and have had millions of years to adapt and perfect it’s existence in the place it prefers to live; the tropics. If you’ve ever been to the tropics, you know that coconut trees are extremely prolific and coconuts are always being produced. They live in the rainforest and on sandy beaches of deserted islands; seems they can grow pretty much anywhere. So, here is one key point on the sustainability of the coconut tree – it grows almost anywhere in the tropics and requires very little care, if any.
Because the Coconut Sugar is produced from the nectar that feeds the coconuts production and if coconuts are always being produced from the tree, this means the nectar is always flowing. It is said that coconut sugar is 50% – 75% more productive than cane sugar per hectare because of this. Cane sugar is an annual crop, whereas coconut palm sugar has daily harvesting, every day of the year.
Some other key sustainability points:
• Coconut trees are soil builders
• Coconut trees help prevent erosion
• Coconut trees can provide multiple items for life; timber for building, the leaves used as roofing, coconuts as food, coconut water as beverage, coconut husk for fuel and coconut nectar as a sugar.
Big Tree Farms Coconut Sugar is NOT Cold-Processed following the publicly created and adhered to definition of RAW (e.g. product being processed at a temperature below 118?F at all times). In fact, it is our opinion that it is physically impossible to create a RAW (under 118?F) granulated coconut sugar because of the necessary evaporation and crystallization that must occur. Although, we do produce a cold-processed liquid nectar, which took us over 18 months to develop the technology to create it.
A good and extremely simple process to test whether a company’s coconut sugar is Raw/Cold-Processed is to look at the color and taste the flavor. Coconut Sugars that are golden brown to brown in color, are that color because of caramelization. Caramelization is the process of sugars beginning to pyrolize (or burn) due to the presence of heat. It creates a golden brown color and a delicious flavor. In fact, sugars that are not caramelized have much less flavor and tend to just be sweet. Our cold-processed liquid nectar is a very light pearly white color, because the sugars in the nectar did not caramelize from heat.
Absolutely not! Our coconut sugar and nectar are 100% pure organic coconut flower blossom nectar. Because our product is certified organic, our ingredients and processing is transparent to our certifying agency and therefore any claim we make about ingredients is fully traceable and transparent.
The simple answer to this is that Coconut Sugar is NOT cane derived and therefore can’t really be compared to cane sugar on price. It is not a commodity, like cane sugar, but rather an alternative sweetener. Coconut sugar is extremely labor intensive and relies on the labor input of coconut palm climbers. So unfortunately cane to coconut, in terms of price, is not a valid comparison. It’s like comparing a BMW to a Ford Escort. Both are cars that get the job done, yet are of different sources, offering different qualities for the end user.
Coconut Sugar pricing is more in line with agave sweeteners although interestingly enough, agave is not as labor intensive, is mostly grown on a plantation in mono-cropped fashion and its prices are held high due to cross-over demand from the tequila/mezcal industry in Mexico.
The simple answer to this is – NO. There is a rumor being spread on the internet that the production of coconut palm sugar “sacrifices” the coconut fruit and that this is a negative and that consumers need to be warned of this. This is very misleading.
It is true that in order to collect the coconut flower blossom nectar, the source of coconut sugar, that the coconuts do not fruit. Yet, what the company spreading the rumor does not say is that, like any fruit tree, the coconut tree produces multiple flower blossoms and it is up the farmer to either allow the flower blossom to form into fruit, collect the nectar or a combination of both. Below is a picture that shows the multiple spears of coconut flower blossoms that the farmer can choose what to do with.
The question the company spreading the rumor does not ask is “why would the farmer prefer to collect flower blossom nectar than sell the coconut fruit”? The answer is because the farmer makes more money selling the coconut nectar than coconuts!
Farmer’s are paid about $0.10 per coconut fruit. This coconut is purchased by middlemen and then sold at a higher price to the larger processors that make coconut water, coconut oil or coconut meat. The farmers receive no added value income when they sell just the coconut fruit, keeping them in poverty.
Coconut sugar production MUST be initially processed by the farmer, therefore bringing more value add to the farmer and the farmer making more money.
The coconut tree produces on average 50 fruits per year. This is only 50 coconuts per year, per tree! At $0.10 per coconut, the coconut farmer is making $5.00 per year, per tree. This is $0.42 cents per month or a little over $0.01 per day! Now you can see why coconut farmers are some of the poorest farmers in the world and why it is so important to bring more value to the farm level. A farmer needs to have a lot of coconut trees in order to make any kind of decent living from growing coconuts and selling just the coconut fruit for production of coconut oil, coconut water or shredded coconut. There is a plethora of information on the internet that clearly exposes the truth of the coconut farmer and the need to increase their income.
The company spreading the rumor clearly states, “So the next time you think about purchasing some coconut palm sugar, you need to ask yourself, “Do I need this more than I need coconut oil, dried coconut, or coconut flour? Am I willing to pay a higher price for coconut oil and other coconut products so that more trees can be sacrificed for coconut palm sugar production, or at some point even go without these products just so I can have coconut palm sugar?”. Trees are not sacrificed and the production of coconut palm sugar does not effect the price of coconut oil.
There is absolutely NO shortage of coconut trees in this world. Anyone who has traveled in the tropics knows that coconut trees are EVERYWHERE. The issue is that the proximity of these trees to the large processors that make the coconut oil, coconut water or coconut meat.
There is no shortage of coconuts on the global market. There is only a shortage of factory capacity and effort of companies willing to work with the coconut farmers to create solutions to their condition of poverty. We work directly with over 8,000 farmers on Java, increasing their incomes by over 200% by bringing added value to the farmer.
Coconut oil, like coconut palm sugar, is a wonderful food product produced by the coconut tree. We are fans of coconut oil, use it in our diet and are confident, based on years of experience, that both products can and are being produced, simultaneously, without any harm to the coconut tree.
Yet, the bottom line, is that coconut farmers make more money collecting the nectar than just selling the coconut fruit and the mission of our company is to help impoverished farmers earn more income so they can live in health and prosperity.