Why am I writing about sugar on a website called the sugar-free-zone? For two reasons. The first is because I am doing a series on all the different products derived from the amazing Coconut Palm Tree. Coconut sugar is one of over a dozen products that works with Paleo diets and many of the other Low Carb Diets.
The second is because Coconut Sugar is a better alternative to cane or sugar-beet sugars. The manufacturing process retains valuable minerals, but most importantly, the Glycemic Index is in the low end, making it a much healthier choice for Low Carb Dieters.
If you need to cut your carbs even more, make sure you check out the information on Stevia … which is an excellent choice for Diabetics.
What Is Coconut Sugar?
Unlike the majority of coconut products you find on the shelves, coconut sugar isn’t actually derived from the fruit itself. Instead, it comes from the sap of the coconut flower buds that are found on the coconut palm tree. Coconut Sugar doesn’t actually have a coconut flavor, it gives a rich caramel or molasses-like flavoring to foods.
Coconut Sugar is unrefined thus preserving healthy nutritional elements. Low Carb and Paleo dieters are happy to note that Coconut Sugar has a Glycemic Index rating of 35, which puts it in the low range, and much lower than table sugar with its GI rating of 68.
Most Coconut Sugars are light brown in color, but I’ve seen color variations from very light to very dark brown. A darker brown color will usually signal a more pronounced caramel flavor.
How Do You Store Coconut Sugar?
Once it has been opened Coconut Sugar needs to be kept in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. Similar to regular brown sugar, it will get hard quickly if not kept airtight. For the most part, Coconut Sugar comes in zip lock sealed bags. If you squeeze out any extra air and make sure the zip is completely sealed you should be OK for a few months.
If I buy in bulk quantities I will often divide everything into one or two pound batches … and vacuum seal the batches using my Food Saver. It will literally keep for over a year that way– though it never lasts that long!
How Do You Bake and Cook With Coconut Sugar?
As an alternative to regular sugar, Coconut Sugar can be used in much the same way and can be substituted cup for cup. However, Coconut Sugar results in a deeper and richer product, more like using a dark brown sugar rather than granulated white sugar. Having said that, it makes an excellent sweetener for cakes and biscuits and adds an extra layer of complexity to the taste. If you are thinking about trying coconut sugar, a good starter is to use it in brownies or cupcakes, or in recipes that call for brown sugar.
Coconut Sugar can be substituted cup for cup with regular sugar, making any dish you use it in just a bit healthier because of the lower carb count and nutrient content.
Of course, coconut sugar can also be used in savory meals and is an excellent ingredient to use in Asian dishes. Coconut soup and coconut curry sauces both benefit from the sweetness that coconut sugar offers, with the benefit of a lower carb count.
How Do You Buy Coconut Sugar?
I have found Coconut Sugar in Costco, at a reasonable price and in some of the larger health food stores — where cost is a deterrent. The smaller retailers don’t sell enough product to get a buyer’s cost break, and though I prefer to buy from the small guys, I have a budget to maintain. Only one of my local big grocery stores stocks it in their baking goods aisle, at the wrong price!
Here are my selections from Amazon. The prices are pretty close to Costco, so check out the big box price points first, stock up if there is a sale, and buy from Amazon only if it makes sense.
If you want to buy in bulk, scroll down to Special offers and product promotions
Here is a second brand choice … the sugar is lighter in color and has less of a caramel taste.