Palmyrah sap has been put to a number of uses and many edible products are now being made out of it. The traditional products of ‘neera` (‘pathaneer’ in Tamil), ’toddy’, jaggery and sugar candy (‘Kallakaram‘ in Tamil) are still considered to be the major and important products of sap. The other products, some of which were introduced recently are granulated sugar, Palmta (flavored drink), bottled pathaneer, ginger toffee, chocolates, Turkish delight, golden syrup, distilled beverages like palmyrah arrack and palmyrah brandy bottled toddy etc.
Pathaneer when concentrated by heating to about 1/6th of its original volume forms thick dark syrup called treacle. The temperature should not rise beyond 107°C. The syrup with a brix of 65% is ready to be removed from the flame, cooled and bottled. In Sri Lanka it is marketed in 750ml bottles. Usually the temperature is not controlled during the preparation and the sugar undergoes caramelisation resulting in a dark product with a disagreeable flavour. Improvements can be made in this product and syrup resembling ‘golden syn1p’ can be prepared. Pathaneer collected in plastic containers without the addition of lime when concentrated under controlled temperature gave a much better product, similar to ‘golden syrup‘. The sugar content of the treacle is about 65%
Jaggery is the most important product made out of pathaneer. It is made directly by concentrating the pathaneer to a thick consistency. The sap is clarified by first straining through a mesh or cloth to remove suspended parts and where lime is used the suspended calcium is removed through precipitation as calcium phosphate by adding a saturated solution of super phosphate until the pH is brought down to about 6.8. The delimed filtrate is boiled with frequent stirring until the right consistency is reached. The strike temperature is about 116°C. The concentrated syrup is poured into molds to set of 10 kg of jaggery from 72 litres of pathaneer.
The scale of production in Tamilandu is around 160,000 metric tons per year. This is equivalent to nearly 1600 million litres of neera. In Indonesia during 1989 about 10 metric tons were produced and this is only 2% of the total brown sugar production. Brown sugar is produced from coconut (53%), sugar cane (27%), Arenga (Arenga pinnata) (18%) and palmyrah (2%). Since no additive is added to the sap in Thailand and Indonesia, pathaneer is concentrated without deliming and the product is generally light brown (almost yellow) in colour. The product from Thailand is rather soft, unlike the products from India and Sri Lanka.
The amount of total sugar in jaggery according to the standards should be above 80%. The sugar content is usually variable, ranging from 75 to 90%. Indonesian product has about 82%. In some parts of Indonesia (Ku pang) a more or less powdered form is made. The pathaneer is dehydrated slowly by heating over cinders with constant. Powdered palmyrah jaggery stirring. When it begins to solidify it is stirred well to break it up into finer particles. The moisture content of the powered form is much lower than the solid form and it is packed in quantities of 500g and 1kg, in polythene bags. Analyzed jaggery produced in Sri Lanka and reported the composition of palmyrah jaggery as sugar (sucrose) 77.4%, moisture 10.83%, reducing sugar 0.51% and ash + 0.0M, +inso1ubles 11.24%.
Chemical analysis on jaggery from palmyrah has shown the presence of vitamins such as riboflavin, 402 mg/1008, vitamin B12, 15 mg/100, vitamin C, Thiamine and nicotinic acid.
One of the problems encountered with palmyrah jaggery is the caustic taste due to residual Ca (OH) 2 and the poor keeping quality. The jaggery tends to tum into molasses on storage. The former problem can be solved if lime can be avoided as mentioned earlier in this report, where several alternatives are available. As known to be hygroscopic, the psychrometric conditions of the atmosphere in contact with the jaggery are largely responsible for its conversion into molasses. Scientific and Industrial Research showed that the could store well if the relative humidity of the atmosphere is kept below 62%.
In India, the practice is to pack the semi spherical pieces of jaggery (size of half a coconut shell) in boxes 10kg. The boxes are made out
of mature palmyrah leaves. These boxes are stacked on wooden racks covered with a layer of hay or paddy straw. These procedures help to absorb the moisture and maintain a low relative humidity. In some store rooms, electrically operated dehumidifiers are installed to maintain a low relative humidity.
A spicy jaggery called ‘puttu panagkatty’ is made in certain parts of Tamilnadu. Here spices like cardamom, ginger, green gram etc. is added to the concentrated syrup just before pouring into the mould. Spicy jaggery is made as smaller semi spherical pieces packed in small boxes (250 g) made out of palmyrah leaf. The ‘puttu panagkatty’ is sold at a higher price than ordinary jaggery. In jaffna the practice is to prepare the Jaggery in cylindrical moulds of different sizes woven out of palmyrah leaf. But recently the palmyrah Development Board of Sri Lanka has started producing jaggery in the form of 2-inch cubes packed in polythene bags.
Production of jaggery is still at a cottage industry level in all palmyrah jaggery·producing countries. Tamilnadu jaggery production is under the Khadi and Village Industries Board, which manage 1149 co-operative societies, 5 district federations and one state federation, all of which are involved in the production of palmyrah Gur.
Another important product of pathaneer in India and Sri Lanka is sugar candy (Kallakaram-T, Thalsukiri-S). In the preparation of sugar candy pathaneer is boiled to 108°C and the brix raised to 67%. The concentrated liquid syrup is then allowed to crystallize slowly in U shaped metal crystallizers. The crystallizers used in India can hold about 30kg of syrup equivalent to 160 litres of pathaneer. In the crystallizer, strings are tied crisscross, so that the crystals can form around the string. The crystallizer is filled with the syrup, covered with a lid and the whole container is buried in a layer of paddy husk raised up to the brim of the U shaped crystallizer. This allows the crystals to be formed without any disturbance. The crystallizers are kept in this manner for a month and during this period small and large crystals are formed on the strings. At the end of one month, the crystals along with the string are taken out, washed by spraying water while it is being centrifuged in a bucket centrifuge. The washed crystals are allowed to sun dry graded according to their size and packed in polythene bags.
During the year 1989, Tamilnadu produced 8.5 metric tons. In Sri Lanka sugar candy is prepared on a very small scale at Singainagar in the Jaffna district.
The sugar candy price is actually three times the value of ordinary sugar (sugar cane) but yet the people buy because of its medicinal value. Sugar candy is used in Indigenous medicine and it is believed to have curative values reducing fevers, cures sore throat, dry cough, shot eyes due to heat, and urinary complications of pregnant women.
Pathaneer or Sweet toddy
Fresh unfermented sap is referred to as pathaneer, which is consumed immediately as a refreshing non-alcoholic drink or it is concentrated by heating to produce treacle, jaggery and other products. Pathaneer as a fresh drink is quite popular in India, Thailand and Indonesia, but not so in Sri Lanka. In folk medicine, sap is prized as a tonic, diuretic, stimulant, laxative, antiphlegmatic and amebicide. ln the palmyrah growing area of Petchburi in Thailand, one could observe the sale of fresh pathaneer on the way side along the highway in several places during the season. The pathaneer was light yellow in Colour, usually kept in 750 ml bottles. The vendor serves the pathaneer in glasses with ice cubes or in polythene bags with a straw for take away. In many parts of Indonesia pathaneer is usually consumed fresh in the villages. In one of the main pathaneer producing villages in Surabaya around 20 small shops were found selling only pathaneer and young kernel of palmyrah during the season. “They store the pathaneer in 5 to 10 litre white plastic cans and serve to the customers fresh usually with ice.
Pathaneer is marketed through several marketing outlets, some which have cooling or chilling units to store the pathaneer for a longer period. Pathaneer is also bottled in 220 ml quantities. Bottling and cooling of pathaneer before sale, practiced in India is something the other countries could adopt.
At present India is the only country that produces granulated sugar from palmyrah pathaneer. Palmyrah sugar has been made in Sri Lanka on a very negligible scale, mostly on trial basis and at present there is no sugar production centre in operation. Attempts have been made to restart processing sugar, and to couple this industry with the more lucrative alcohol industry making use of the by—product molasses and convert into alcohol.
Palmyrah Sugar based Beverages and Confectionery
The purified sugar prepared from palmyrah is used as the main sweetening agent in the preparation of a number of items in India.
- Palmta: This is a carbonated orange flavored drink, in bottles of 220 ml capacity.
- Palmyrah jam marketed under the trade name ‘Kraft`: This product contains palmyrah sugar, apple pulp, and citric acid.
- Chocolate and various sweets: The palmyrah palm component in these products is only the refined palmyrah sugar.
The fermented palm sap referred to as ‘Toddy` in India and Sri Lanka, ‘Tuak’ in Indonesia and Thailand, and ‘Tuba’ in the Philippines is a mild alcoholic beverage popular among the poor population in most southeastern Asian countries. Tapping of palmyrah for `toddy’ is legal in Sri Lanka and many palm products co-operative societies control the tapping and retailing of toddy.
However in India, Thailand and Indonesia tapping of palmyrah for toddy is not encouraged and it is illegal to sell toddy in Thailand and Indonesia. Therefore, the main producer of palmyrah toddy is Sri Lanka and it may be one of the reasons for the extensive studies done on palmyrah toddy in Sri Lanka.
The palm sap as it oozes out of the inflorescence is a clear transparent sweet liquid and it undergoes fermentation almost immediately by a group of heterogeneous microorganisms, probably originating from the indigenous flora of the palm, and the surrounding environment. Fermented toddy is a milky white liquid containing about 5% alcohol. Analysis of estimated an average, ranging from 5.2 -5.6% v/v for fully fermented toddy. However, the alcohol content of fresh toddy samples (as they are brought down from the tree) may vary between 1% to 6% depending on the concentration and the type of yeasts present in the toddy. The toddy in addition to the alcohol, contains a considerable quantity of live Micro organisms, residual sugar mostly in the form of glucose and fructose, small quantities of proteins, lipids, minerals, vitamins and organic acids.
The bulk toddy contains about 107- 108 cells of yeasts per ml of the sample. The major yeast strains of palmyrah toddy were identified as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Sacch. chevalieri, Kloeckera apiculata and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The first two strains of Saccharomyces are almost always found in toddy samples and exist in greater numbers. They are also the best alcoholic fermenters have isolated the yeasts Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Sacch. chevalieri and Sacchludwigii from palmyrah toddy in West Africa. Species of Candida and Pichia, frequent in coconut toddy have not been encountered so far in palmyrah toddy. In addition to the yeasts, toddy contains high density (107 — 10° cells/ml) of bacteria.
The milky white appearance of toddy is mainly due to the bacteria, which remain in suspension while the yeasts, which are heavier, usually settle to the bottom. Three of the most prevalent bacterial species of palmyrah toddy. They are Bacillus sphaericus, Bacillus cereus and Bacillus firmus. Subsequent investigations using more samples revealed the presence of many more strains of bacteria. About 20
different bacteria species, most of which were spore-forming Bacillus. ln some toddy samples E.coli and Enterobacter sp. were identified. The other Bacillus species have not yet been fully identified. Coconuttoddy too contains a large variety of bacteria, but there again them predominant genus was Bacillus. However, species of Leucanostoc and Lactobacillus found in coconut, which are responsible for lactic fermentation resulting in lactic acid, were not detected in palmyrah. These authors believe that in the initial fermentation (up to 20h) of coconut toddy; lactic acid is the main product, which is responsible for bringing the pH down from 7 to 4.
The absence of lactic acid producing bacteria may be the reason for the absence of any detectable lactic acid in palmyrah toddy. The major acid was identified as acetic acid. They found that the acid content of fully fermented toddy (48h) to be about 0.5% (w/v). According to them the acid produced is mainly by the yeasts because most of the bacterial species isolated from palmyrah toddy are non-acid producers.
During the fermentation of the sap, sucrose is first hydrolyzed to glucose and fructose by the action of enzyme invertase produced by the
yeasts. While the sucrose is being hydrolyzed, yeast and bacterial cells multiply using the simple sugars and increase in cell mass. The yeast n cells, which have the ability to undergo alcoholic fermentation, will break down glucose and produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. As the CO, concentration increases, an anaerobic condition soon sets in the collecting pot and more and more glucose are broken down resulting in the formation of ethyl alcohol. The fermentation ceases once all the sugars are utilized. The pH also drops gradually with the build up of acid. Once the fermentation is over which may take anything between 24h to 96h, the yeast cells and bacteria will gradually flocculate and settle at the bottom leaving a clear solution. Yeast cells settle down very easily while the bacteria remain in suspension for a long time until they begin to die, due to increasing alcohol content and high acidity.
Growth studies on the main yeast strains of palmyrah toddy have been done by researchers with the intention of using these strains as feed and fodder yeast. The optimum conditions for growth of these strains have been fully investigated in the above studies. Used a combined medium of sugar cane molasses, dried fruit pulp of palmyrah (‘Pinnatu`) and diluted palmyrah sap to cultivate PY1 and PYlO yeast
strains (previously isolated from palmyrah toddy) in batch cultures of 15 litres. In this study a yieid of 0.48g of yeast per gram of glucose utilized was obtained. Yield can be increased using continuous culturing with proper control of pH, temperature and nutrients. Their studies have indicated the possibility of using some of the palmyrah sap products for the large-scale cultivation of yeasts, which could be used in bakeries and other fermentations. The major Saccharomyces yeast strains of palmyrah toddy were found to have a favourable protein and nucleic acid content (55 -60%) and (7 — 10%).
One of the methods to preserve toddy is to heat sterilize and bottle the product. Conditions for preserving toddy with the minimum change in flavour. A bath temperature of 70 — 75°C with a period of heating of about 20 minutes with a minimum air space of about one ounce was found satisfactory.
Three bottling plants, at Chankanai, Tellipalai and Kayts, all in the Jaffna district were operating in the bottling of palmyrah toddy in Sri Lanka in 1990. In these bottling plants, toddy is brought to the site
by the toddy centres in that region and the toddy is stored in storage tanks for a short period. It is then transferred to another tank after straining through a thick muslin cloth to remove suspended A particles. The toddy is then filled into 650 ml. bottles and crown corked leaving sufficient air space. The corked bottles (approximately 200) are placed in a tray and immersed in a heated water bath at 162"F (72°C) for 20 minutes. The bath was heated using a gas heater. The bottles are then taken out of the bath, allowed to cool, labeled and stored in the warehouse. According to the producers, the bottled toddy can be kept for more than a year.
There is scope for increasing the production of bottled toddy. The toddy is now bottled in used beer bottles (amber colour) and other colourless bottles; Use of colourless bottles, with attractive labels combined with good publicity can boost the sale of this product in the urban cities. In 1992 most of the bottled toddy produced was marketed locally and only a small quantity was exported. The Chankanai production centre exported 4,000 bottles to Canada in 1989. The current practice and prices of bottle toddy is not available.
The palmyrah toddy has been used to produce a distilled alcoholic beverage called palmyrah arrack, similar to the coconut arrack from coconut toddy. The latter is a well-developed industry in Sri Lanka where a number of private and state distilleries are involved in the production of a variety of items.
Palmyrah arrack was first produced by a small distillery of the State Distillery Corporation at Kaithady, Jaffna. This distillery had a 200-gallon capacity pot still and about 400 gallons of toddy were distilled daily on two shifts during the palmyrah toddy season. Since 1987, this distillery has not been in operation. The Palmyrah Development Board started in 1981; several low wine centres in the Jaffna district and in 1984 commissioned a distillery with a patent still at Thikkam, Point Pedro, Sri Lanka. This still can take in 1350 litres (300 gallons) per hour, but it has never run continuously due to the short supply of toddy. It has not been run for more than 4 hours in a day. On an average about 2250 litres of toddy is supplied to the distillery daily by two palm products co-operative societies in that region (Point Pedro and Kattaveli). The maximum daily supply was only 2750 litres during 1990.
The distilleries usually receive their toddy supply from toddy centres run by the co-operatives. They are transported in 100 to 200 litre capacity plastic containers. The toddy is usually brought to the site around 11.00am. The toddy is usually of that day’s collection, but it can also contain the left over of the previous day’s collection (i.e. it can be 30 hour fermented toddy). The distillery accepts toddy of strength of above 4.5% alcohol (v/v). If it is less than 4.5% then the payment is reduced accordingly. The toddy is first poured into the receiver tank (285 gallon capacity) where it will remain for 1/2 to 1 hour. From there it is pumped into the settling tank, and will remain in this – tank for about 15 minutes, if the still is in continuous operation. The toddy brought later in the day may remain in the settling tank even overnight. The capacity of the settling tank is about 500 gallons. The top liquid is pumped to an overhead tank (450 gallon capacity) and from there it passes through the still. The distillate is collected at 78° — 80°C. lf the temperature rises above 80°C, then the distillate is sent back to the settling tank. The still is heated by hot steam, which is generated from boiler, operated using diesel oil, fired by electricity. It takes about 3 hours to reach the required pressure of 80lbs/sq.inch at the boiler stage. So, the still can be put into
operation only after about 3 hours in the morning when sufficient pressure develops at the boiler stage.
The rate of recovery of the distillate, which contains about 80% ethyl alcohol, is approximately 1/10th of the volume of toddy. The distillate is usually re-distilled and then allowed to mature in storage tanks made out of Halmilla wood. During 1992 the Tikkam distillery had the capacity to store about 24000 litres of distilled spirit in storage tanks made out of stainless steel. For the year (1990) a total of 175,000 bottles (750 ml) of potable arrack was produced from the Thikkam distillery. The sale value of the product was in the region of 21 million rupees at the rate of Rs. 1 20/- per bottle.
In addition to the Thikkam distillery two other small distilleries, one at Chankanai and another at Varani produce palmyrah distillate in 1992. These were pot stills, each with a capacity of 400 gallons and work in two shifts handling about 800 gallons of toddy a day.
The toddy distillate produced by these distilleries with a high concentration of ethanol (more than80% v/v) was directly used for the manufacture of potable palmyrah arrack. A lower strength (less than 30%)
distillate called ‘low wine` was produced at several low wine centres of the different Palm Products Co-operative societies in Jaffna. This was done under the supervision of the Palmyrah Development Board (PDB).
Low wine is prepared using a simple distilling device, where all the alcohol, including impurities is collected and therefore this distillate cannot be used for direct consumption. It is re-distilled in the other distilleries before making into arrack. In many places in Sri Lanka including Jaffna, there is illegal distilling of palmyrah and coconut toddy using crude distilling apparatus, which produces a strong alcoholic beverage called ‘Kasipu’. To increase the alcohol content of the brew, various sorts of sugary and starchy materials, usually of poor quality, are added to the fermenting toddy. “Sometimes certain metals are also added into the brew in the believe that the “Kasipu” will be more intoxicating. “Kasipu" is not a healthy drink as it is likely to contain all sorts of impurities some of which may be very harmful like the methanol and heavy metals in concentration above the permissive level recommended for distilled alcoholic beverages.