Coconut sugar (also known as coco sugar, coconut palm sugar or coco sap 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. The world’s largest producers of coconuts are the Philippines. and Indonesia
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 manufacture methods from palm sugar, which is made from the sap in the stems of the Palmyra palm, the date palm, the sugar date palm, the sago palm or the sugar 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 spadix and the sap starts to flow from the cut. The sap is then collected in bamboo containers. The sap collected is then transferred into giant 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 known as a “toddy”. From this form, it is further reduced to crystal, block or soft paste form, or it remains in this form. Essentially, coconut sugar’s form depends on the moisture content of the toddy.
Taste and flavor
Coconut sugar is subtly sweet almost like brown sugar but with a slight hint of caramel. However, since organic coconut sugar is not highly processed, the color, sweetness and flavor can vary depending on different factors. Coconut sugar’s color, sweetness and flavor can vary slightly from packaging to packaging depending on the coconut species used, season when it was harvested, where it was harvested and even the way the “sap” or “toddy” was reduced.
Coconut sugar consists primarily of sucrose  with smaller amounts of glucose and fructose.
The Glycemic Index of coconut sugar is 35 and is classified as a low glycemic index food. It is considered to be healthier than refined white sugar and brown sugar. It can be used as a 1:1 sugar substitute for coffee, tea, baking, and cooking.
Coconut sugar has a high mineral content, being a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. In addition to this it contains Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6. When compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has 36 times the iron, four times the magnesium, and over 10 times the amount of zinc.
The coconut sap, from which coconut sugar is derived, contains 16 amino acids. The amino acid which has the highest content in coconut sap is Glutamine.
Coconut sugar has gained popularity as a health food and among people with diabetes. Coconut sugar can be used as a sugar substitute and is considered safe to use for diabetics. Coconut sugar used to be only sold in specialty Asian stores but companies are now selling it in natural food markets and online making coconut sugar more accessible to mainstream markets and making it a more viable cane sugar substitute.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article coconut sugar, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.