Colour and texture of jaggery can vary from batch to batch; this is a feature of handmade Jaggery. Sometimes, customers have also reported instances of yeast formation on jaggery blocks. Let's understand why this happens.
A sugarcane crop is sensitive to some main factors as well as secondary factors.
- Soil type
- Could be insects
- Disease control and
- Time of harvesting
All of these hence directly affect the quality of jaggery as well.
The quality of jaggery is affected by
The variety of sugarcane grown (heirloom or not), how it is grown - (organically or conventionally), fertilizers used (natural or chemicals), quality of irrigation of water in a specific kind of soil (this varies largely from region to region even in one particular state!) and the method of clarification (naturally available plant based clarifying agents or chemicals), processing time, storage condition and packaging material and methods used.
Changes in colour and texture are inevitable as the jaggery we make is handmade with only juice extraction from canes done using a machine. Every batch has its unique texture, colour and taste. This will not be the same every time a new batch is made.
Jaggery blocks are more likely to absorb moisture from the environment as the powdered jaggery has lesser moisture as compared to blocks.
Naturally made jaggery blocks give favourable conditions for growth of different types of bacteria and fungi - this is a natural process. The fungi feed on the carbohydrates and release alcohols. This can increase during warm and humid months of the year. The shelf life and keeping quality of jaggery mostly depends on the atmospheric humidity and temperature condition in which it is stored.
Jaggery storage during the warm and humid months is difficult because of the presence of invert sugars and mineral salts which are hygroscopic (prone to absorb moisture) in nature. The non-sucrose constituents present in jaggery such as glucose, fructose and protein, etc makes it hygroscopic.
So if you just received a block with some yeast or fungi formation on it, you could scrape and remove the affected part of its not much, because this is a natural process. If the fungus is clearly visible and you see white patches all over the block, please reach out to us and we will replace the blocks for you.
Also please make sure to store your blocks in a cool and dry place, away from direct heat and moisture. Remove the block from the foil packs and store them in your clean and dry containers.
No two handmade items are exactly alike. They can't be clone copies of each other. Variations in colour, shading, texture, shape and flavor are inherent in a handmade item. Think of how we cook in our kitchens at home - the same recipe will not taste exactly the same every single time we make it, isn't it? That's the beauty of the craft of the hand, the skill, intuition and endurance of the maker.
The TBOF jaggery for example, is entirely made by hand except for only a small part of the process while extracting juice from the Sugarcane which is done using a simple sugarcane juice extractor.
THE ECONOMIC TIMES PUBLISHED A STORY TITLED ‘WHY GUR IS NOT GLAMOROUS FOR INDIANS’ BY RESHMI DASGUPTA IN WHICH SHE TALKS ABOUT THE HANDCRAFTED GOODNESS OF JAGGERY OR GUD OR GUR WHICH IS YET TO FIND ITS DUE. PERHAPS IT WILL GET ITS STATURE OF EXCLUSIVITY LIKE THE TRUFFLES OF FRANCE AND ITALY AND THE MAPLE SYRUP OF CANADA (RETAILING ACROSS SUPERMARKETS AND BOUTIQUES ALL OVER THE WORLD COMMANDING A PREMIUM PRICE) ONLY WHEN WESTERN CHEFS 'DISCOVER' JAGGERY.
Dasgupta writes beautifully about our very own, most nutritious, wholesome sweetener Gud which “has 2.8 gm of vital salts like magnesium and potassium per 100 gm, compared with white sugar’s 30 mg, besides iron. Our ancestors acknowledged its beneficial qualities — purifying the blood and preventing rheumatic and biliary afflictions — in ancient medical texts. Jaggery is regarded as delightfully rural by the otherwise organically orientated elite. It flavours tea in the outback, sweetens the meals of robust farmers and is carried by India’s masses as a cheap alternative to regulated white, granulated sugar!”
The making of jaggery in the traditional way is not a job that is meant for the faint hearted. At our farms, we first harvest the naturally grown sugarcane which is then crushed in a basic sugarcane crusher to extract sugarcane juice.
This juice is then let to slowly boil in large iron pans on slow heat using a fuel mix of firewood and the leftover crushed sugarcane pulp. The boiling continues for 2-3 hours with continuous stirring until the juice reaches the required consistency. Further lady’s finger (bhindi) that is also grown on our farm is crushed and this plant mucilage is added to clarify the boiling liquid and the coagulated scum is removed to separate impurities. This concentrated clarified organic liquid jaggery also called as Kaakvi is poured into liquid moulds and left to solidify to form blocks of jaggery.
It is common practice to use Soda, Calcium carbonate, lime, sulphur compounds etc during various stages for clarification (it is tedious to clarify the boiling liquid using plant mucilage), to lighten the colour of jaggery, to enhance solidification which also means a longer shelf life etc.
We carry out natural clarification which is labour intensive. But that extra effort is worth it. The taste of the resulting jaggery is excellent. It has a pleasant sweet taste and deep dark colour. The texture is natural, almost caramelised velvety and can be easily scraped off using a knife or spoon. The texture is likely to vary slightly with each batch as the entire process is done using hands, manually!
Most handcrafts at this scale cannot be done alone; it requires communion and the strength of people. Thus very evidently, handmade is a celebration of 'Community'; people connected over shared values come together to create things of beauty and purpose.
Handmade also encourages 'mindful spending'!
At TBOF we understand that today’s consumer responds to basic emotions and seek honesty and simplicity in products. While unwilling to compromise on sustainability and quality, they look for products that lead back to the roots. As a brand, we strive to connect meaningfully with these emotions.