Gula Melaka or Palm sugar is an integral ingredient in Asian cooking. The terms “palm sugar” or “coconut palm sugar”, are often used interchangeably, even though each type of palm sugar is distinctive of its origin, i.e. the type of palm tree and region.
The ones that are popular in South East Asia are known as gula melaka in Malaysia, or gula jawa (from coconut tree) or gula aren (from aren palm tree) in Indonesia. Gula Melaka from Malaysia is made primarily from the saps of coconut palms.
Coconut palm tree
What is palm sugar?
Palm sugar is a natural or unrefined sugar made from the nectar the flowers of various types of palm trees such as the Palmyra, date, nipa, sugar and coconut palms.(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_sugar).
The sugar is extracted from the saps of the flowers. It is then caramelised by boiling at low temperature (picture above).
The caramelised sap is sold as palm syrup in bottles or solidified and sold in the form of bricks or cakes.
How does it taste?
The tastes and colour of the palm sugar vary, and it depends on how they are processed and the type of palm and where they are from.
Generally, palm sugar tastes like mild caramel or dissolved brown sugar, very similar to honey, but without the sickening feeling of consuming too much refined sugar. The sweet mild caramel flavour is used extensively in many desserts like sago, chendol, drinks, sauces or as a general substitute to sugar.
I use palm sugar extensively in my cooking, especially for desserts such as ondeh-ondeh, pulut inti, chendol etc and all recipes that call for sugar.
How do you make palm sugar syrup from the palm sugar block?
(1) Get the palm sugar/gula melaka block and place the pieces into a small sauce pan.
(2) Add 1.5 – 2 cups of water to palm sugar and gently boil on low heat. Stir occasionally. Once the palm sugar block has softened, use your spoon/spatula to break down the block to speed up the process.
Hint: I love pandan (for the added aroma), so I add the 1-2 leaves to the pot. You can use Pandan Powder Powder as well. (See below)
Note: more water will dilute the syrup, and too little will result in the syrup being too thick and re-crystalise.
(3) Once the gula melaka has been fully dissolved, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
(4) It is important that you sieve the syrup, as from the way it is traditionally processed you will find residue in it.
(5) Pour into a clean container and refrigerate.
Use the syrup as a substitute for sugar anytime or add it to your cooking and kiuh making! It is said there are many health benefits as well.
Give it a try. You will love it!
Premium Melaka Brand
Product of Malaysia
Ingredients: Coconut Shreds, Water, Sugar