The Story Behind Coconut Sugar: Coconut Tapping

Behind the making of coconut sugar, other than the source which is sap, we should know about the tapping process too. Every step in the coconut sugar making process is important. We should know what’s involved, what the farmer does, and how the whole process goes. It’s not always the end product because every step of the process matters to you, to the farmers, the ethics and it’s incredibly fascinating.

Coconut sugar products may have gained popularity over the last decade, but the process of coconut tapping is a traditional method that has been passed down generation to generation. It certainly is not a new process, and therefore a long way removed from intensive farming, instead relying on traditional processes.

coconut sap tapping

Coconut trees have a cycle of blossoming and then producing new coconut fruits. Tapping is the process of collecting coconut sap from the stem of the flower blossom of the coconut tree, so it’s not the coconut itself. The magnificent sap has milky white colour which is a naturally sweet substance and very rich in minerals.

This sweet substance is ideal for the making of coconut sugar. You may think of this coconut tapping process similar to the process of making maple syrup from Maple trees, but the fact is it’s not. Instead, the tap which is a hollow tube made of bamboo is simply placed under the cut off end of the stem to collect the sap when it drips down. Each day, the farmers or coconut tappers in Indonesia climb their coconut trees to collect the sap. Wondering how often?

The farmers will tap each tree twice to four times a day for making coconut sugar. It’s a very hands-on technique for harvesting the tap. These farmers have multiple organically growing trees. When the tapping process is done, the sap will be directly processed traditionally in their own houses. Until they finish and get the thick, caramel coconut sugar paste, they will take it to the local factory or processing facility. Then transformed into the glorious coconut sugar products.

tapping coconut tree

Once the sap is removed, how does the tree do? There are a lot of sayings about this matter. Most revolve around the idea that a tapped tree won’t produce coconuts. The tapping process where the stem of the flower buds is cut, it’s true that it can prevent the tree from forming a new coconut fruit. But, it only happens to the tapped or cutted stem. It doesn’t prevent the whole tree from fruiting at all.

So it all depends on how the tree is tapped. There are multiple stems on a single tree. For the tree to continue to produce coconuts, farmers simply need to just leave some stems untapped. So that can allow them to bloom flowers followed by fruiting coconuts.

On the bright side, the tapping process to get the sap only prevents the formation of new coconut, but on the other hand will not interrupt the perpetual cycle of sap production. So the tree is not harmed, it will continue to flower and be healthy.

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