When I traveled around South East Asia, I was amazed at how you can just buy sugar cane from street vendors and the different ways this perennial grass can be eaten and used.
You may also have wondered how you can eat sugar cane. Today, you are in luck.
I reveal five uses or ways to eat sugar cane!
How to Eat Sugar Cane?
There are four ways to eat sugar cane. One is to chew the fibrous inner flesh once the sugar cane stalks are peeled and to extract the sweet juice this way. A second way is to make sugar cane candy, and a third is to juice the sugar cane. You can drink the juice and combine it with mint leaves, ginger, and/or lemon juice, or use the pure juice as a sweetener in your coffee, tea, or iced tea. Fourthly, you can make skewers out of the sugar cane stalks, and when you slide on meat or fruit and place the skewer on the BBQ, the sweetness from the sugar cane will seep into your meat or fruit, adding a layer of complexity to the flavor. Alternatively, while not edible, you can use the sugar stalk as a cocktail garnish and drink stirrer.
5 Ways to Eat or Use Sugar Cane
There are a few ways you can enjoy sugar cane:
Method 1: Peeled Sugar Cane Stalks
As a snack, chew on raw sugar cane stalks that have been peeled. This means the hard outer layer of the perennial grass has been removed.
If you grow sugar cane, here’s how to remove the outer tough skin:
- Use a clean, sharp serrated knife or cleaver.
- Cut about an inch of the stalk’s ends (on both sides).
- Score the hard outer skin layer of the sugar cane.
- Use a small knife to help you peel off this tough skin.
Once the hard skin has been removed, you can bite off pieces of the sugar cane’s fibrous inner flesh, which is called bagasse, or you can cut the peeled stalk into pieces.
Chew the inner flesh to extract its sweetness, and once there’s no more flavor (similar to bubblegum), spit it out.
Some people experience negative side effects, like a runny tummy, when they chew or eat too much sugar cane. And a word of warning: never swallow the dry fibrous residue as it’s non-edible.
Pressed sugar cane bagasse is burned to produce electricity, biofuel, and second-generation ethanol. Alternatively, this renewable resource is used in the production of various products, like paper-packaging products.
Method 2: Sugar Cane Juice
A second way to eat sugar cane is actually to drink it. Here, your jaw doesn’t have to work so hard to extract the sweet juice from the bagasse.
Depending on where you live, some vendors may sell sugar cane juice. However, you can also easily make your own.
There are various recipes, so I’ll share the basics with some extra options you can try.
- A big piece of sugar cane
- ¼ cup water
- Sieve, muslin cloth, or strainer
- Bowl or jug
- Ice cubes (as many as you’d like)
- Wash the sugar cane stalks.
- Peel off the tough outer layer of the sugar cane by following the steps outlined in Method 1 in this article.
- Cut the peeled sugar cane stalk into 2-3 inch pieces.
- Add some sugar cane pieces to a blender, with some water.
- Blend until smooth. Then add more sugar cane pieces until you have enough juice. You may need to add a bit of water if the blender struggles.
- Place the muslin cloth, sieve, or strainer over a bowl or jug.
- Pass the juice from the blender through the strainer. You can use your hands to help the process by pressing on the bagasse to extract more juice if necessary.
- If the juice isn’t as clear as you’d like, repeat step 7 again.
- Add ice cubes and serve.
You can add the following ingredients to the sugar cane juice, and you can also combine some of these:
- Small handful of mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or ½ a lemon
- A pinch of black salt
- ½ inch of ginger root
- ½ a lime
Method 3: Sugar Cane Cocktail Garnish
Not edible, but sugar cane stalks make an interesting cocktail, ice tea, lemonade, or flavored water garnish. Plus, it doubles as a stirrer or stirring stick.
You can choose to sharpen the ends or leave them blunt.
Alternatively, you can also buy sugar cane straws, which are environmentally friendly.
Method 4: Sugar Cane Skewers
This is an interesting use of sugar cane stalks. You can use the sugar cane stalks as barbecue skewers.
Slice the stem of the sugar cane stalk into a half, and then half each of the two halves so you have four quarters of the stalk. Sharpen the ends of the stalks so you can skewer your ingredients onto it.
Some ideas to skewer onto the sugar cane skewers are to slide pork, fish, steak, or chicken on. You can also ground meat or mince shrimp or fish into a paste and then wrap this around the skewer.
For dessert, skewer on any fruit you like, such as pineapple or berries.
Place the skewers on the grill, and when your meat is cooked or the pineapple, for example, is grilled, remove from the BBQ. The sweet juices from the sugar cane skewer will have seeped into the meat or fruit to add another layer of flavor.
Method 5: Sugar Cane Candy
Finally, another edible application for sugar cane!
In Ilocos, situated in the northern Philippines region, this is very popular. Kids eat the sugar cane candy while adults add the candy to their coffee as a sugar or sweetener alternative. This sugar cane candy is called balicucha.
To make balicucha, boil pure sugar cane juice until it forms a thick syrup. The syrup is then formed into candy rods, which are pliable so they are pulled, stretched, and looped until the rods turn white. Smaller pieces are cut off from the rods, and then they are shaped and baked until they are candies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar Cane
Can you eat raw sugar cane?
You can eat raw sugar cane. Before you eat the sugar cane, remove the rough skin around the stalk.
How do you eat sugar cane from the store?
Store-bought sugar cane can be eaten by removing a small piece of the sugar cane that’s peeled and chewing it. Chewing the sugar cane fiber releases its sweetness.
Can sugar cane be juiced?
To juice sugar cane, cut the stalk into 5-inch pieces, peel off the skin, and cut the fibrous sugar cane into thin strips. Add the strips and ¼ cup of water to a blender. Once blended, sieve the juice into a jar, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and/or some ginger. Serve with ice cubes for a refreshing drink.
The Last Sweetness
There are so many uses for sugar cane, from non-edibles like making products (cups, packaging, etc.), straws, ethanol, and biogas to edibles like the sugar cane candies, sugar cane juice, and skewers so the sweetness can run and form part of the flavor of your meat or fruit.
In its simplest form, you can chew the bagasse and extract the sweet juice that way. Just remember to spit out the fibrous inner flesh.