Health Benefits of The Natural Sweetener - Jaggery or Gur
What Is Gur Or Jaggery ?
Gur is the coarse unrefined, pure sugar made from sugarcane juice. It is also called Jaggery. It is known by different names in different places :
- In Mexico & South America, it is called Panela.
- In Sri Lanka, it is called Hakuru.
- In Brazil, it is called Rapadura.
Jaggery, however, is also made from the sap of the date palm tree but in India when one refers to jaggery or gur, it is invariably the unrefined sugar made from sugarcane juice only. Gur has been made in India traditionally since centuries. It has also been consumed traditionally in the rest of Asia, Africa, Caribbean and Latin America.
In recent times, coconut palms and sago palms are also tapped for jaggery production.
Raw sugarcane juice is boiled in huge pans till most of the water evaporates to leave behind a light to dark brown residue called jaggery or gur. There is no further processing and therefore jaggery retains most of its vitamin and mineral nutrient levels.
Some Steps In Jaggery MakingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Process To Make Jaggery From Sugarcane Juice
Sugarcane juice, traditionally was extracted from sugarcane by passing the sugarcane through 2 rollers which were rotated by making a contraption called "Kohlu", in which 2 bullocks were used to rotate these rollers.
Jaggery production was and still is essentially a rural activity and hence bullockes were used in the olden days. Today, however, electrically run motors have replaced the traditional bullocks in many place while the rest of the procedure remains the same.
Either, the sugarcane juice is collected in cans and allowed to sit for sometime to let the impurities to settle down or a chute is used to deliver the extracted juice to a big pan where it is heated. The fire used to heat the sugarcane juice is fuelled by the dried sugarcane bagasse. The temperature is controlled at around 200 degrees F.
As the cane juice is boiled and simmered, a lot of froth containing impurities rises to the surface. This is removed by a skimmer made of net. During the entire process of heating the sugarcane juice is stirred by a wooden stirrer so that premature crystallization does not take place as well as the juice does not stick to the base of the pan.
At an appropriate temperature and time, some mucilaginous vegetable is added to clarify this juice. Vegetables like Okra, Phalsa (Grewia asiatica), Tamarind seed (Tamarindus indica), Soyabean seed (Glycine max), Tapioca (Manihot esculenta) etc are used as clarifiers.
(The chosen vegetable is soaked in water for 24 hours, then crushed and mashed by hands to extract the thick mucilagenous liquid).
The clarifier is used at a dose of 1% of the quantity of sugarcane juice.
The juice is boiled till a paste like consistency is obtained. This is then poured into containers where it solidifies. If needed, nuts, spices, herbs, etc can be added once the paste like consistency is obtained.
Jaggery Made Into Blocks
This process gives a dark and soft product. Consumers today are wary of consuming things that do not have a visual appeal. Hence, nowadays a lot of people have started adding chemicals like hydrosulfate, artificial colors and other additives, to make for firmer and visually attractive lighter and brighter colored jaggery.
However, the best jaggery is one made without the artificial and chemical clarifiers. This is usually quite dark in color and is soft.
Ayurveda recommends gur or jaggery as a sweetener as it is natural as compared to white granulated sugar which is artificially processed. Gur has medicinal and nutritive value. It is simpler and cheaper to produce.
Uses Of Gur Or Jaggery
In India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, gur is used in the preparation of both sweet and salty/spicy dishes. Dishes like Sweet rice, Sesame laddoos, Payasam etc use jaggery instead of sugar.
It is also used to make jaggery toffees, jaggery cake with pumpkin preserve etc. Palm wine is produced from jaggery.
Jaggery is used inside the tandoor ovens to season them.
Jaggery has religious significance in Hindu festivals and is offered to the deities during worship. It is considered auspicious.
Jaggery contains 60-85% sucrose, 5-15% glucose and fructose and about 20% moisture. It provides 383 calories energy per 100 grams.
1 tsp (4 grams) of gur contains about 4-5 mg calcium. 8 mg magnesium, 48 mg potassium, 2-3 mg phosphorus and 0.5 mg iron along with traces of copper, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, and niacin.
Sugar has almost non existent levels of these contents except 400 calories in 100 grams.
source : niam.com
Health Benefits Of Gur
- Treats anemia, purifies blood, prevents and cures pimples & acne, makes skin and hair healthy.
- Relieves premenstrual symptoms, cures muscle soreness, pain and cramps.
- Useful to prevent pregnancy anemia.
- Has cleansing action in the body, reduces water retention in the body as it neutralizes excess salt intake in diet.
- Relaxes blood vessels and maintains blood pressure,
- Relaxes muscles and nerves aids in relieving migraine headaches.
- Acts as antioxidant, scavenges free radicals.
- Cleans the respiratory tract of dust and pollutants, reduces respiratory distress of asthma, bronchitis etc.
Specific Uses Of Jaggery In Maintaining Health
Mix 1/2 tsp gur and 1/2 tsp ginger powder. Consume with 1 tsp warm water.
For Menstrual Disorders
Eat 1 tsp gur daily.
Eat a 12 grams of Jaggery after each meal daily or 25 grams of jaggery everyday. It relieves stomach disorders.
Mix some black pepper in Gur. Take 1 tsp with warm water.
For Tension Headache/Migraine
- Add 6 grams powdered sesame seeds to 10 grams jaggery and add 2-3 drops of milk to make a paste. Apply on the forehead.
- Mix 12 grams gur and 6 grams ghee. Take once before sunrise and then at bedtime.
For Fatigue/Tiredness/Muscle Injuries
Eat 1 tsp gur 3 times a day. fatigue due to hard physical labor, exercise and sport can be relieved with this.
Eat 1 tsp gur twice a day.
For Asthma/Dry Cough
Mix 15 gms gur and 15 ml mustard oil. and lick this mixture.
Eat laddoos made of black sesame seeds and gur. (Video recipe given. Use black sesame instead of white)
To 100 grams of gur add 1 tsp ginger powder and 1 tsp black pepper powder. Divide into 4 parts. Take 1 part 4 times a day.
For Scanty Urine/Suppressed Urine
Mix some gur in milk and drink. Take 2 times a day.
For Intestinal worms
Eat some jaggery before taking the deworming medicine to remove worms easily.
For Foreign Objects In Skin
A mixture of jaggery and carom seeds when warmed a little and applied on the affected area draws out the embedded piece of glass, thorn etc, as it cools.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly
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