Palm sugar vs coconut sugar has been some of the most confusing culinary ingredients in the pantry for decades.
Many people erroneously claim they are the same – and they are sometimes incorrectly labeled in grocery stores — and so the misconception keeps spreading and selling like hotcakes.
But hey, this is what you need to know:
“They are two distinct types of sugar that are obtained in different ways from different plants — even though they look seemingly the same, and sometimes coconut sugar is called coconut PALM SUGAR. “
However, if you are simply concerned about which one is better or whether they can be used interchangeably, this article is precisely for you.
We have already organized a comprehensive guide to differentiate between palm sugar and coconut sugar and equip you with all you need to know about these sweeteners.
What Is Palm Sugar?
Palm sugar is a sweetener gotten from the sap in palm trees.
It is caramel-like with a distinct palm flavor and is known for sprucing up Indian, Thai, and African dishes.
More importantly, the graceful flavor of this sweetener does not overshadow other ingredients or takeover the recipe when used with other strong flavors like fresh lime juice or fish sauce.
Palm sugar is available in both crystallized as well as syrup forms and is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and more nutrients than most sugars.
It’s regarded as natural sugar, which is healthy as it does not contain nasty chemicals.
Read Also: Palm Sugar Vs Cane Sugar
What Is Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar, sometimes called coconut palm sugar, is a natural sugar gotten from the sap of the coconut palm tree — a sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant and not the coconuts.
As for the flavor and color, coconut sugar can vary depending on the species used to make it and when it was harvested.
But generally speaking, it has a darker hue with an almost earthy flavor like brown sugar with hints of caramel.
Fantastic to use to brighten up savory recipes like curries, chicken, or fish. They are also excellent in baking recipes using chocolate or warm spices. Or you can sprinkle in coffee, tea, and many more.
Palm Sugar Vs Coconut Sugar — What Are The Key Differences
First, you MUST know palm sugar comes from the trunks of palm trees.
Whereas coconut sugar is harvested by tapping the flower sap of coconut trees.
Key point: from two different trees.
Also, these two different sugar differs in their harvesting method and so do their flavors.
While they are both natural sweeteners, the most significant difference is that coconut sugar has a butterscotch caramel taste. In contrast, palm sugar’s flavor has many of the same notes but comes with a smokier taste.
Although, palm sugar is usually mixed with cane sugar. This is because pure palm sugar is quite challenging to find.
Can I Replace Palm Sugar With Coconut Sugar?
A lot of people (even food enthusiasts) will unapologetically swap one for the other to flavor their beverages, curries, rice dishes, desserts, and candies — and I can totally relate to that because of their congruity.
Coconut palm is an excellent palm sugar substitute because it has similar flavor notes and behaves like palm sugar in palm recipes.
But if you crave palm sugar instead, keep in mind that the names palm sugar and coconut sugar are often used interchangeably, even on package labels.
So it is best to go by the ingredients on the package rather than the title on the label.
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Which Is Healthier: Palm Sugar Or Coconut Sugar?
If you’re aiming for nutrition, coconut sugar captures the upper hand, swapping palm sugar with excessive minerals, low glycemic, and low fructose.
Does Palm Sugar Have Any Potential Risk?
YES, it does. While it’s a healthier alternative to sweeteners like honey, white and brown sugar, excessive sugar intake can lead to many health problems, including heart problems, weight gain, diabetes, Tooth Decay, and many more.
Remember, palm sugar contains a moderate content of fructose. And researchers believe that fructose may cause problems for a person with diabetes when consuming it in the form of pure sugar or as added sugar in processed foods.
Does Palm Sugar Go Bad?
Palm sugar does not go rancid easily. In my nearly one-and-the-half decade as a chef and food enthusiast, I can assure you can coconut/palm sugar can last up to 2 years when stored in a cool, dry place in an air-tight container.
Over time it might form lumps and clumps. Although they won’t turn rancid but can undergo texture changes making them difficult or undesirable to use.
What Can I Use Palm Sugar For?
You can add palm sugar to anything from baked goods, curries, rice dishes, desserts, to candies — be it ginger and jaggery tea, coconut and egg jam (kaya), sweet and sour lentils (Gujerati dahl), or Fried chicken wings.
They are even best suited for palm sugar Chinese masterstroke, caramel-galangal salmon (ca Kho to), green chili, and jaggery chutney (mulaka pachadi), as well as Rice and lentil pudding.
In summary, I hope we have resolved the conflict between palm sugar vs coconut sugar: that they are very similar but not the same.
And It is important to note that both sweeteners can be used interchangeably but that they differ in taste — it is just a matter of personal preference.
Although, you may veer off using coconut sugar in your recipe if you’re scared your meal will taste like coconut.
The truth is: coconut sugar tastes nothing like coconut. It has a butterscotch caramel taste, almost like a palm but lagging in smoky flavors, unlike its counterpart.
They are more of a healthier option, so choose wisely!
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