Sugarcane can reach a height of 3 meters.
Harvesting is done by hand or by machines.
The cane is cut just above the ground, the topmost leaves are shortened
and the stem is bound together.
The process of making cane sugar.
The process begins by extracting the sap from the cane, using a series
of big mangks.
The sweet sap is thus squeezed out and the cane sugar is taken away to
be processed in large heating-units.
It is mixed with earth, small fibers and green plant extracts.
Usually, the mixed and extracted sap contains about 15% sugar.
In the factory, the sap is easily cleaned with quicklime so that a great
part of the dirt settles down
and can be removed.
This process is called “liming”.
The thus-treated sap is then taken to a cleaning machine
(clarifier),where it is separated according to density.
The speed used to transport the sap through the clarifier, is very slow,
thus allowing the solid matter to settle and the clear sap to emerge.
After the treatment with quicklime, the sap is thickened into treacle by
heating water through steam
and to remove.
This process is called: evaporation.
The clear sap contains usually – after the evaporation –only 15% sugar,
but the saturated sugar treacle,
produced trough the evaporation, can hold 80% sugar.
The last phase of the process is the boiling of the treacle in a big
cooking pan .
By boiling, more water evaporates until the conditionis favourable for
sugar crystals to grow.
Some crystals are added to the treacle to initiate the forming of the
When the crystals are sufficiently formed, they are put in a centrifuge
Then, the crystals are – finally – dried with hot air, packed and
stored, ready for transport.
The original fluid still holds some sugar, so the
crystallization will be repeated a few times.
Because not all the sugar can be extracted from the treacle, a sweet
by-product remains : molasses.
This is used as fodder or taken to a distillery to make alcohol.
Palm sugar can be gathered from the areng palm, the sago palm and the
Gathering and production are nearly the same for all sorts.
We describe the most important one:
The Aren- or Sugar Palm.
This palm can reach a height of 25 meters, looks somewhat rough and dark
and grows naturally everywhere in Indonesia.
The Aren has unlimited possibilities for usage.
Every part of this palm tree is being used, from the roots to the young,
budding leaves in the top; from the fibers around the trunk, to the sago
inside the trunk.
But the most famous produce of the Aren is certainly its peculiar, tasty
sugar, that gave it its name : Sugar Palm.
The Aren sugar, called gula merah ( literally : red sugar ) or gula
semut ( ant sugar ) , is made from sap, gathered twice daily by tapping
It is tapped from the stalks that carry the bunches of male flowers.
The sap is caught in hollow bamboo stalks.
One flower stalk can produce up to 40 liters sugar sap per day.
It is then boiled in an open pan, until thickened and red-coloured .
Than there are two ways to proceed: Either the treacle is poured into a
coconut shell until it coagulates,
or the wok pan is taken off the fire and - at exactly the right moment –
the thick sap is stirred until it becomes a fine, yellow-red, granular
To boil 50 liters of palm sap, approximately 50 kilo’s of firewood is