Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Welcome to our big palm sugar test 2021. Here we present all the palm sugar we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best palm sugar for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy palm sugar.




Summary

  • Palm sugar comes mainly from Southeast Asia, where it is still traditionally produced by hand in a laborious and time-consuming process.
  • Palm sugar is available in three different varieties: crystalline, as a paste or in pressed form. They differ only in their shape, shelf life and use in cooking.
  • Palm sugar can replace household sugar one-to-one in all areas and, due to its low glycaemic index, can even be used by diabetics without hesitation.

The Best Palm Sugar: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying palm sugar

What is palm sugar?

Palm sugar is made from the fresh flower juice of the arenga palm, a sugar palm. But not all palm sugar is the same. It depends on the type of palm from which the sugar is extracted and to which it ultimately owes its name.

A fully grown sugar palm can produce up to 30 litres of juice a day and its trunk can grow up to 30 metres high. (Image source: unsplash.com / Madhushree Narayan)

Palm sugar is mainly produced in Southeast Asia (mainly Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar or Cambodia) but also in Sri Lanka, South America or India. It can only be obtained through very elaborate and time-consuming manual labour. Unlike oil palms, sugar palms grow exclusively in species-rich forests and require exchange with other plants. The rainforest and its inhabitants are preserved and biodiversity is even promoted. Palm sugar is also considered one of the most sustainable sugars available because of its cultivation and production method. Sustainable cultivation and mixed cultivation protect the soil and make it more difficult for pests to spread. The plantations therefore do not need to use chemical pesticides. Palm sugar is therefore a very natural sugar, free of pesticides.

How is palm sugar produced?

In order to be able to press the juice from the blossom, the bracts of the inflorescence must be tied tightly together. This prevents the flower bud from opening and thus creating a tube. The farmers now climb up the metre-high trunk over several days and give the tube that has formed light strokes to stimulate the production of the palm sap. After several weeks, the tip of the bud can now be cut off and the sap collected several times a day with the help of containers. The natural fermentation process of the juice starts within a few hours due to the heat. It must therefore be processed quickly. First, the juice is passed through a sieve to remove impurities and palm residues. Then it is boiled down to syrup for about five hours. Once the syrup has thickened, it can be put into containers to crystallise. To do this, the syrup is beaten for about twenty minutes until crystallisation begins. The mass is now put into moulds and allowed to cool until it becomes hard as a rock. This is how the pressed palm sugar is produced. To obtain palm sugar as a powder, the mass then only needs to be grated or crushed.

Is palm sugar the same as coconut blossom sugar?

As mentioned above, the sugar gets its name from the palm tree from which it is extracted. Coconut blossom sugar, also called coconut sugar, is extracted from the coconut palm, while palm sugar comes from the sugar palm. Basically, palm sugar and coconut blossom sugar are not the same.

Unlike palm sugar, coconut blossom sugar is available in crystalline form or as a syrup and has a light brown colour. However, the production methods are almost the same and there is little difference in taste.

However, connoisseurs claim that coconut blossom sugar tastes a little bit sweeter than palm sugar. But as we always say: tastes are different!

What are the special properties of palm sugar?

What makes palm sugar so special and therefore distinguishes it from normal white sugar is its low glycaemic index, abbreviated to "GLYX". Depending on the manufacturer, this is between 30 and 40, whereas the GLYX of sugar is around 60. The glycaemic index has a great influence on your blood sugar - the lower the index, the slower your blood sugar level rises. Conveniently, palm sugar also prevents cravings and can be a great weight loss aid. However, this should not tempt you to use more sugar than usual. Palm sugar is "healthier" but will still hit your hips if consumed in excess. In 100 g there are a whopping 400 calories, just as many as in white sugar. In addition, 100 g of palm sugar also contains 95 g to 100 g of carbohydrates, which is why it is not at all suitable for low-carb.

Palm sugar has a slightly malty, caramel taste and is less sweet than normal sugar. (Image source: unsplash.com / Widuri Putri)

Palm sugar contains ingredients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. However, the amounts are so small that they don't have a significant impact on your health or contribution to your daily requirements. Nevertheless, palm sugar is said to have an antioxidant effect. Unfortunately, this has not yet been scientifically proven.

Can I eat palm sugar if I have diabetes or fructose intolerance?

Because of its low glycaemic index, palm sugar can also be used safely by diabetics. However, as with any other sugar, you should watch the amount you consume. The dose makes the poison.

The situation is different with fructose intolerance, because one man's joy is another man's sorrow - palm sugar consists mainly of the two-fold sugar sucrose.

However, opinions differ on the compatibility of palm sugar with fructose intolerance. To be on the safe side, you should talk to your doctor before using palm sugar or inform yourself very well beforehand.

How much does palm sugar cost?

Admittedly, palm sugar is not exactly the cheapest sugar alternative on the market, but it is also not the most expensive. The production is very expensive and the transport routes are long. Nevertheless, you can buy high-quality palm sugar from some manufacturers for as little as ten euros per kilo. As always, the same applies here: There are no upper limits to prices.

What alternatives are there to palm sugar?

There are several alternatives that you can use instead of palm sugar. Of course, it depends primarily on your personal taste and the intended use. However, please note that any form of sugar is still sugar and should only be consumed in moderation! Here we have listed a handful of alternatives and their properties that can hold a candle to palm sugar and be a good substitute. The closest to palm sugar are the following two alternatives.

Birch sugar

Birch sugar, better known as "xylitol" or "xucker", has the same sweetening power as white sugar and can also be used one-to-one like it. It is low in calories and carbohydrates and can also be used by diabetics for cooking or baking without a guilty conscience. The tolerance of fructose intolerance depends on the individual and should be clarified beforehand.

Stevia

Stevia is a very popular sugar substitute besides palm sugar. It has 300 times the sweetening power of regular sugar and is calorie-free. It can be used for baking and refining desserts, but also for hot dishes. In addition, stevia has been proven to be suitable for diabetics and is also safe for people with fructose intolerance. But there are many other ways to sweeten food, drinks etc.. These include the following:

Sugar Description
Agave syrup This liquid alternative has 1.4 times the sweetening power of normal sugar, but not significantly fewer calories. Agave syrup is particularly suitable for sweetening yoghurt, muesli or drinks, but also for salad dressings or hot dishes. The glycaemic index is very low and this alternative is therefore very suitable for diabetics. However, agave syrup should be used with caution if you are fructose intolerant.
Erythritol This sugar alternative tastes slightly of mint and fortunately has no calories besides its cooling effect. However, you will need to use a little more erythritol when cooking or baking, as it only has about 70% of the sweetening power of regular sugar. Erythritol is well tolerated by people with diabetes or frucot intolerance.
Whole cane sugar cane sugar is probably the best-known sugar alternative. This type of sugar tastes caramel and is less sweet than table sugar. However, you can substitute it one-to-one as your taste allows. It may be a little higher in calories than its competitors, but it is completely unrefined and natural.

Decision: What types of palm sugar are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, palm sugar can be divided into three types:

  • Palm sugar in pressed state
  • Palm sugar as powder
  • Palm sugar as a paste

The only difference is the shape of the three varieties. Which one is ultimately right for you depends entirely on your individual needs and the intended use, or the effort and time you want to invest in cooking. To give you a better overview of the palm sugar varieties and help you decide which one is more suitable for you, we have listed the advantages and disadvantages below.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of pressed palm sugar?

The most common variety, which you can also buy in most shops, is palm sugar in solid, solidified form. Depending on the version in which they were pressed, they can look like cakes, cylinders, pyramids, or are sometimes offered as whole blocks. Unlike powder, however, these are less prone to absorbing water and forming lumps. In order to use palm sugar for cooking, however, it must first be processed and crushed. Due to the pressed and hard form of the sugar, dosing in advance can therefore be somewhat problematic.

Advantages
  • Somewhat cheaper
  • Easy storage
  • Less prone to lumps
Disadvantages
  • Must first be crushed
  • Difficult to dose

What distinguishes palm sugar as a powder and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Palm sugar powder is basically nothing more than pressed palm sugar that has been grated. Because of the extra effort involved in production, this variant can be somewhat more expensive for some manufacturers. Because the sugar is already in powder form, it can be used directly for cooking and, unlike pressed palm sugar, is better suited for refining drinks or for caramelising. Especially as a cane sugar substitute, the powder is definitely best.

Advantages
  • Can be used directly
  • Easy to dose
  • Better suited for drinks
  • Better suited for caramelising
Disadvantages
  • Less commonly available
  • Somewhat more expensive
  • Prone to lumps

What distinguishes palm sugar as a paste and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

So far, we have not focused so much on this variant because palm sugar as a paste is very rarely offered and it is difficult to find it even on the internet. Nevertheless, we would like to introduce you to all forms of palm sugar and of course not withhold them from you. For the production of palm sugar paste, no separate step is necessary. The palm sugar syrup is simply boiled down to a lesser extent so that it becomes a viscous paste. Due to its production, palm sugar paste has a high residual moisture and is therefore perfect for boiling down. Due to its consistency, the paste is also much easier to dose than the solid form. At the same time, however, it has a much shorter shelf life due to the high moisture content. Because the paste is the simplest form of palm sugar, it is also the cheapest on average.

Advantages
  • Can be used directly
  • Easy to dose
  • Cheaper
Disadvantages
  • Very rarely offered
  • Short shelf life

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate palm sugar

So that you can see the forest for the palm trees and choose a product with a clear conscience, there are various criteria that you can use to compare and evaluate all palm sugar and manufacturers:

  • Purity
  • Sustainability
  • Organic quality
  • Country of origin
  • Odour

In the following sections we explain exactly how you can use these criteria and choose the best palm sugar for you from the many offers.

Purity

When buying palm sugar, be sure to check the purity of the palm sugar to be sure that it has been extracted exclusively from the blossom of the sugar palm. Cheap products are often cut with other types of sugar and are no longer natural.

Fair trade

Another purchase criterion that you should not ignore, especially with palm sugar, is the Fairtrade seal. In this case, it is particularly important because the production of palm sugar is very complex and the farmers should be paid fairly for their hard work. A Fairtrade seal also guarantees that the product does not come from mass production and is therefore possibly of lower quality!

Organic quality

Organic quality is also a very important criterion that you should pay attention to. With this label, manufacturers can guarantee that their palm sugar is free of any chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides and has been produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Country of origin

The country of origin can also tell you whether the palm sugar is of high quality and natural. In any case, make sure that the sugar comes from one of the regions mentioned above. If not, this may be a sign of poor production conditions and thus reduced quality. The only good thing about it is probably the low price!

Smell

The smell of palm sugar can also provide information about quality and purity. Unfortunately, you often don't have the opportunity to do an odour test beforehand. It is best to rely on reviews on the internet or experiences from your environment.

In general, however, palm sugar has a slight caramel aroma. If it smells different, this is a sign of chemical treatment or the addition of other types of sugar.

Facts worth knowing about palm sugar

How should I store palm sugar?

Storage and shelf life vary depending on the type of palm sugar you have. Storing palm sugar is not a tricky business, but we have summarised what you should bear in mind.

Pressed or crystalline form

In order to enjoy your palm sugar for a long time, it is essential to store it correctly. Basically, you can say that palm sugar will not spoil or start to mould if it is stored correctly. However, there are a few factors that can have a negative effect on the longevity of the sugar.

First of all, you should make sure that the palm sugar is stored in a dry and airtight place. If it draws water, it will form lumps. If you have bought the pressed variety, it is best to store it in a Tupperware container.

Since the air here is very dry, unlike in Southeast Asia, the pressed palm sugar may become hard as a rock. This is not a cause for concern, however, but completely normal. However, this can make further processing for cooking a somewhat more strenuous task for you.

Palm sugar paste

Unfortunately, the situation is somewhat different with palm sugar paste. Because of the high residual moisture, it can go bad and start to mould. Do not leave the paste open and use it up as quickly as possible. You can also find the best-before date on the packaging.

What do I have to consider when using palm sugar?

Actually, you don't have to pay much attention when using palm sugar. You can use it in exactly the same way as you would normal sugar. However, there are a few little tips and tricks that can be very useful, especially with palm sugar in pressed form.

Dosage

In general, you can dose the sugar one to one like household sugar. However, if you like it even sweeter, you can use as much as your taste allows. However, in order to use palm sugar for cooking, especially for cold dishes, you have to do some preparatory work. Fortunately, if you bought the sugar as a powder or paste, you are exempt from this.

Melting

The quickest method is to melt the sugar block. Just microwave it with some water for 30 seconds and you're done. Alternatively, you can melt the block or part of it in a water bath or directly in the pot. It's best to always add a little water so that it doesn't thicken too much and stays nice and creamy.

The melting point of palm sugar is very low because of the residual moisture it contains due to the gentle drying process. If the sugar is difficult to dissolve, this is an indication of an incorrect drying process at the latest, but also of the addition of other types of sugar or sweeteners.

Grating

You can also grate the sugar block with a normal grater so that you don't have to use up the whole sugar block. It works like grating Gouda or vegetables and is the most common way to grate palm sugar in Asian cuisine.

Peel

As an alternative to grating, you can also peel the palm sugar with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife. However, this requires some skill and caution as the sugar block is quite hard.

What can I use palm sugar for in the kitchen?

Basically, you can use palm sugar for anything your heart desires. To give you a little inspiration, we have listed a few possible uses here that are guaranteed to hit the mark every time.

Drinks

Due to its good solubility, palm sugar is ideal for adding its unique flavour to hot drinks such as coffee, tea or cocoa.

When dissolved beforehand, you can also mix palm sugar into cold drinks, such as iced coffee. (Image source: unsplash.com / frank mckenna)

Palm sugar also makes a great addition to cocktails. At your next cocktail party, simply replace the cane sugar with palm sugar - by the way, it goes especially well with drinks made with rum!

Warm dishes

Because of its origin, palm sugar is perfect for Asian dishes such as Thai curry, wok or sweet and sour dishes. But you can use it just as well for any meat or fish dishes, for example as a marinade, or to add a little icing to your soups.

Cold dishes

Palm sugar can also add a special touch to cold dishes. For example, you can add a little crushed or melted sugar to salads, dressings or dips. A little caramel boost in the morning in your yoghurt or muesli can't hurt either!

Baked goods

Palm sugar is also suitable for baking, but due to its high price we would advise against it and recommend that you only use it to sweeten and refine cakes, muffins, biscuits and the like.

Desserts

Because of its caramelly taste, palm sugar is of course primarily suitable for refining cold or warm desserts. When melted, the sugar fits into everything, whether ice cream, pudding or various desserts. Here's a little tip from us: palm sugar tastes really heavenly when dissolved in rice pudding. But other desserts can easily keep up with it.

For which recipes is palm sugar particularly suitable?

Because of its versatility, there is not necessarily one recipe for cooking with palm sugar. Try it out a little and simply reinvent your dishes, then you will quickly find your personal favourite!

Adding palm sugar gives even the simplest dishes a tropical touch. (Image source: pixabay.com / Free-Photos)

You can find examples of how such a taste reinvention can look in numerous recipe ideas on the internet. Have fun trying them out!

Image source: pixabay.com / Quang Nguyen vinh

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