Posts Tagged ‘indian sugar’

India made the world taste sweeter


History of sugar and sugar cane in India goes back to several thousand years BC. Indian mythology vouches for this since it contains some legends depicting origin of sugar cane.

Honey was more often used for sweetening in most parts of the world. Sugar was a luxury in Europe prior to the 18th century when it became more widely available. It then became popular and by the 19th century it was considered a necessity. This evolution of taste and demand for sugar as an essential food ingredient unleashed major economic and social changes.

It was sometimes in 4/6th century art of sugar making was discovered. Sugar cane has a very long history of cultivation in the Indian sub-continent. The earliest reference to it is in the Atharva Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) where it is called ikshu and mentioned as an offering in sacrificial rites. The Atharva Veda uses it as a symbol of sweet attractiveness.

The method of production of sugar  was crude beyond imagination. Cane was cut in pieces – crushed under heavy weight – juice thus obtained was boiled and stirred, till it turIndia_Sugarned solids. Production of sugar by boiling the cane juice was first discovered in India, most likely during the first millennium BC.

Solids of uneven shape and size were called sarkaran, a Sanskrit term of ‘gravel’. Modern word ‘sugar’ is derived from the word Sarkara. Thus it could be rightly said that India has been the original home for sugarcane as well as sugar manufacture. At this time honey was the only sweetener in the countries beyond Asia and all visitors to India were much taken with the ‘reed which produced honey without bees’. The Greek historian Herodotus knew of the sugarcane in the 5th century BC and Alexander is said to have sent some home when he came to the Punjab region in 326 BC. Practically every traveller to India over the centuries mentions sugarcane; the Moroccan Ibn Battuta wrote of the sugarcanes of Kerala which excelled every other in the 14th century; Francois Bernier, in India from 1658-59, wrote of the extensive fields of sugarcane in Bengal.

 Currently, India is the largest sugar consumer and second largest producer of sugar in the world  according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.