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Sugarcane is a tasty ingredient for sweet drinks around the world. If you are discovering sugarcane for the first time, here are two reasons to give it a try, especially for making your own drinks at home.
Why Drink Sugarcane
Sugarcane is a tasty ingredient used in beverages in parts of Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Now, Americans are exploring sugarcane as a tasty and low-sodium, low-cholesterol food. Juice bars that cater to health-conscious consumers can even craft sugarcane juice that relaxes customers naturally.
Sugarcane drinks taste sweet and help you maintain your electrolyte balance for improved hydration. The potassium in sugarcane juice helps to balance acidity in the stomach to improve digestion.
People in parts of Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America love to drink fresh sugarcane juice. Try this recipe to find out why it’s so popular.
- 1 sugarcane stalk
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- lemon juice to taste, or ½ of one lemon
- ice cubes, optional
- Score the sugarcane skin with a cleaver or serrated knife. Make the shallow cut close to the node, the hard band on the sugarcane.
- Take a small knife and place it along the scored cut. From this position, peel the outer layer of the sugarcane. Be sure to move the knife away from your body for safety. Continue all around the sugarcane until you completely peel it.
- Cut the peeled stalk into a piece that’s about as long as your hand. At this point, you have a peeled, short, cylindrical sugarcane piece.
- Split the cylinder of sugarcane in half lengthwise.
- Place the flat part of the sugarcane down on your cutting board. Cut the sugarcane into bite-size pieces.
- Place the sugarcane, ginger, lemon juice, and water in a blender. Blend for three minutes.
- Use a strainer to strain the sugarcane juice. Press down for maximum extraction.
- Transfer to serving glasses. Drink with or without ice.
Fresh sugarcane juice isn’t the only way to drink a delicious sugarcane beverage at home. If you want sugarcane flavor without having to cut the plant yourself, consider making aguapanela, a drink consumed throughout South America and in parts of Central America and the Caribbean.
The direct translation of aguapanela is “panela water.” Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar made from boiling sugarcane juice and letting the liquid evaporate to yield a thick syrup. You can purchase it at national grocers such as Whole Foods Market, Walmart or from the brand Just Panela.
- 5 cups of water or water to taste
- 2 cups grated panela
For cold aguapanela, you will also need:
- juice of two limes, or to taste
- ice cubes, optional
- Bring the water to a boil. Then, add panela.
- Reduce heat, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the panela dissolves completely.
- Transfer the hot drink to a serving cup if you want to drink it hot.
- If you’d like cold aguapanela, pour the drink into a pitcher. Let cool on your countertop until it reaches room temperature. Then, place the pitcher in the fridge to let it cool completely.
- Pour the cold aguapanela into a glass filled with ice. Squeeze lime juice, stir, and enjoy.