Depending on where you grew up or now live, opening your kitchen cabinet to reach for your favorite sweetener for this mornings coffee may be different from what you use to make your grandma's cookie recipe, pie, or favorite sauce. Is it a liquid like molasses or honey or is it light and powdery? Hmmm, I do hope you'll share your favorite with me or, you can just bring me your favorite cookies and tell me all about it then.
You may remember when I revealed to you my favorite which I ritually enjoy every day in my amazing cup of Panamanian coffee. Not only does it taste amazing, just knowing where it came from (thank you Abuelo's), how it was made, and how perfectly pure it is, makes it taste that much better. The problem is, this pure source of goodness, which is a Panamanian staple, just isn't available to most of the world - yet another reason travel is so sweet.
So, you might be wondering: don't most sweeteners come from sugar? Well, if you're like me, you might be surprised to hear how many different sources there are for where all the sweet goodness comes for example: grass like sugar cane, trees, vegetables, grains, animals, fruits, and then there's manmade chemicals too! The list goes on and on but for simplicity and what's more common here in Panama, we'll focus on sugar cane.
As one of the oldest commodities, discovered thousands of years ago, sugar has always been in our diet. Around the 16th century is when this food "which nobody needed - but everyone craved" became globally processed, and distributed. To meet the demands of the world, this white powder has quite the dark history.
When you ask for sugar, generally, you will receive white granulated sugar (like the color of snow like what Remo is trying to catch) so, if the plant is green, and the extracted juice is brown, getting those fine white crystals is a bit of a mystery to most of us and an engineering feat for sure.
You can always dive deeperif you like but here's the cliff notes for you: through several heat treatments, drying, centrifuging to eliminate moisture and impurities, lime and phosphoric acid are added to the juice and then it's sent through carbon filters to eliminate any discoloration. Finally crystals are formed by adding other sugars crystals and then a last centrifuge and drying with heat you end up with the snow white crystals!
Well, I hope you enjoyed your sweet cup of coffee this morning and we would love to know when you might come to enjoy one here with us in Panama.
Your Friends in Morrillo,
Cari and Ryan Mackey
Owners and Hosts
Morrillo Beach Eco Resort