Purported health benefits aside, the subtly spicy, rich flavor of jaggery is enough motivation for us to seek out this Asian treasure.
Whether it comes from palm tree sap or sugar cane juice, the boiled and reduced liquid is only the starting place for many different products.
The syrup might be cooled and cut into candies, or mixed with ingredients like nuts or coconut.
Palm trees grow in tropical environments, and unfortunately for us, most of the United States doesn't quite count as tropical.
There are many different kinds of palm trees, and jaggery can come from date palms, coconut palms or sago palms, Wise Geek explains. The sugar is tapped from the trees and can be boiled down to be used in a variety of ways, just like maple syrup. After sugar canes have been crushed to produce cane juice, the liquid is boiled down and reduced to make jaggery.
According to The Washington Post, it "is used to treat respiratory infections" in Ayurvedic medicine.
(Boiling sugar cane is also how you make molasses.) Jaggery might be labelled according to type -- whether it's made from palm trees or sugar cane -- but not necessarily.Cooks Info explains that because jaggery doesn't require "expensive refining," it can be produced by anyone, including small producers where labeling may not be used at all.In Myanmar, it's common to eat jaggery candies by themselves, or to roll the sticky syrup with tamarind into little balls that are then coated in sugar.In addition to tasting delicious, jaggery is also said to have medicinal properties.Slightly less sweet than maple syrup, a little thicker than honey and boasting a rich, brown sugar-like flavor, jaggery is worth getting to know.
It's like a cross between spicy molasses and buttery caramel. Jaggery typically comes from the sap of palm trees, which might explain why it's relatively unheard of in the United States.