Lontar palm sugar is a natural sweetener derived from the sap of the lontar palm tree (Borassus flabellifer), a sustainable species of wild palm native to tropical regions in Asia. In Bali lontar palms are grown near the slopes of the Mount Agung volcano. The tree is known for its versatility, as various parts of it are used for different purposes, such as construction, food, and medicine. The lontar palm grows up to 18 meters tall!
To produce lontar palm sugar, the sap is collected from the flowers and then boiled and simmered until the water content evaporates, leaving behind a concentrated syrup. The syrup is then poured into molds and left to cool and solidify, resulting in blocks or reddish brown sugar with a rich, caramel-like flavor. Unlike refined sugar, lontar palm sugar retains its natural nutrients, including minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc.
Lontar palm sugar is often considered a healthier alternative to white refined sugar. While both types of sugar contain calories and carbohydrates, lontar palm sugar has a lower glycemic index (GI) meaning it does not cause as rapid a spike in blood sugar levels. Additionally, lontar palm sugar contains minerals and antioxidants which are not found in refined sugar. Being unrefined it doesn’t go through the same chemical processes as white sugar, making it a more natural option.