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When we say ‘Jaggery’, many who live in urban cities, understands it as a product from sugar – cane. They are not aware that Jaggery is produced from palmyra and Date trees also.
Palmyra tree has several botanical names depending on where it is grown:-
1. Borassus flabellifer – Asian, Indian palmyra trees.
2. Borassus aethiopium – African palmyra
3. Borassus akeassic – West African palmyra
4. Borassus Madagascariensis – Madagascar palmyra
5. Borassus Sambiranensis – Madagascar palmyra
6. Borassus heineans – New guinea palmyrah
The vernacular names are – sanskrit – Thala, Hindi – Thar,
English – palmyra palm, Tamil – Panai maram.
Plamyra tree is grown widely in south India and every part of it is useful. It grows to a height of 30 metres. The leaves are 2 to 3 metres long and fan – like. Flowers are small. The fruits are large round with dark brown coloured skin. Like Date trees, palmyra trees are also ‘desert’ trees.
A milk like fluid is extracted from the tree. This ‘milking’ can be started after 15 years growth of the tree. The tree yields this milk for 30 to 40 years. In a year, extraction of ‘milk’ can be carried out for 4 to 5 months. A tree yields 225 to 360 litres in a year. This milky juice is boiled in a broad bottomed, big shallow vessel. At the temperature of 200 degree centigrade, the palm sugar and palm jaggery form. The palmyra jaggery is classified in to 2 types. The dark coloured substance, not purified completely is called “karupatti” meaning black jaggery. The purified jaggery settles as crystals and called palmyra sugar candy.
1. Palmyra jaggery contains minerals. In Ayurveda it is added in medicines prescribed for respiratory disorders.
2. In experiments carried on rats, it was found that palmyra jaggery relieves lung infection caused by inhaling silica dust (silicosis) and coaldust in coal mines.
3. Palm jaggery and sugar candy strengthen the body, improve appetite.
4. Palm jaggery contains iron and hence good for anaemia.
5. Milk boiled with palmyra sugar candy is a popular house hold remedy for sore throat, throat pain. Phlegm in the chest. Vocal muscians usually take warm milk with palmyra sugar candy to presserve the quality of their voice. Some herbs also can be added to this milk.
6. Palmyra jaggery is good for reducing body heat, urination problems and fevers.
7. Palmyra jaggery is used in cooking also.
Sugar cane Jaggery
Sugar cane juice (obtained by crushing sugar cane) is boiled to produce jaggery and sugar. While boiling, a soft jaggery is produced before the boiling reaches its completion. This soft, half liquid jaggery is considered suitable for adding to Ayurvedic medicines as this is digested easily. On boiling the sugar juice completely the mixture thickens a little but still remains as viscous fluid. This is poured into moulds and made into Jaggery. Instead of pouring intp moulds, when the thick syrup is dried on flat surfaces, removed of impurities by addition of certain chemicals sugar, sugar candy etc are produced.
Sugar cane jaggery according to Ayurveda, prevent flatulence, formation of gas in the stomach. It provides energy and is diuretic. But it causes proliferation of intestinal worms. This is confirmed by siddha also.
Most of the sweets prepared in South India use jaggery rather than white sugay. The two biggest markets for jaggery in the world are in India – in the Muzzafar district of Andhra pradesh. In Tamil Nadu, Jaggery produced in the sugar cane belt of Vellore – Ambur Vaniyampadi, is considered best.
In Ayurveda, sugar cane, its juice, sugar, jaggery etc are called “Iksu Varga” (Iksu means sugar cane) the attributes of sugar etc, according to Caraka are given below.