By Rafael D. Guerrero III
Muscovado is unrefined sugar which is made by boiling sugarcane juice to form molasses, which is ground after drying into dark brown granules. Unlike refined white sugar, which has no molasses, muscovado has healthy minerals (phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium), vitamins (A, B complex, and C) and antioxidants (polyphenols).
Muscovado was a major export commodity of the Philippines in the 19th century until the late 1970s, with Negros as the main producing island in the country. Today, with the growing demand of consumers for healthy and organic foods, the production of chemical-free and natural sugar is on the rise.
We recently visited the small-scale muscovado producing facility of our good friend, Ramon Uy, in Barangay Pahanocoy, Sum-ag, Bacolod City. Ramon is the president of the RU Foundry & Machine Shop Corp., which manufactures shredders and other machines. As an advocate of organic farming in the country, he is pushing for small-scale muscovado production as a livelihood for rural families.
The muscovado production facility designed by Ramon has a sugarcane crushing machine manufactured in his shop. With a production capacity of 48 kilos of muscovado per day from 600 kilos of sugarcane juice extracted from sugarcane stalks, the facility can earn a net of P300-P500 per day for the operator. Muscovado sells at P100 per kilo in the wholesale market.
In the muscovado production process, the mature stalks of organic sugarcane grown with vermicompost (an organic fertilizer) are harvested, cleaned and peeled for crushing to obtain the sugarcane juice. The juice is then boiled in pans/vats with continuous stirring for about three hours to produce the molasses (sugar syrup) which is then allowed to cool and solidify before being ground into dark brown granules that taste like toffee. Muscovado has a shelf life of 12 months under room conditions.
Muscovado is used for food and confectioneries. In Indian Ayurvedic Medicine, it is believed to have many health benefits that include strengthening of the bone and teeth, boosting of the immune system, and properties for anti-inflammation, anti-microbial, and anti-cancer, among others. It is considered to be relatively safe for diabetics if taken in moderation.
For more information, visit RU Foundry & Machine Shop Corporation.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s February 2020 issue.