Jaggery is a sweetener that is gaining popularity as a “healthy” sugar substitute. This sweetener has been given a healthy food status and is often referred to as ‘superfood sweetener’. However, jaggery is still sugar and must be used sparingly. There isn’t enough evidence to support its health benefits claims. This unrefined sugar product is generally made in Africa and Asia and is sometimes referred to as ‘non-centrifugal sugar’ since it’s not spun during processing to remove the nutritious molasses.
In India, where 70% of the world’s jaggery production takes place, it is popularly known as ‘gur’. It’s generally made by evaporating the water from sugar cane juice or date palm sap, which is then sold as blocks, granules or liquid.
Recently a company dealing in the manufacturing of jaggery was sealed by the Health Department after it was discovered that not even a single drop of sugarcane juice was being used to prepare jaggery. Instead, the firm was combining old jaggery with sugar and food colouring. This poses a serious threat to consumers who prefer buying jaggery over sugar owing to its alleged health benefits. Jaggery is usually adulterated with chalk powder and colour. Therefore, it is pertinent to know the different ways of detecting adulteration in jaggery.
How to detect Adulterants
In the case of adulteration with chalk powder , the suspected sample must be dissolved in water. If chalk powder is present, it will start settling down in water.
In the case of colour, one must know that the ideal colour of jaggery should be brown or dark brown. If it is yellow, it indicates the presence of artificial colour or some chemical. To confirm this, 3 ml of alcohol must be added to ¼ teaspoon of jaggery. Shake thoroughly. On pouring 10 drops of hydrochloric acid to the mixture, if there is a pink coloration, it means that artificial colour has been added.
To detect presence of washing powder adulterant, add 1ml of hydrochloric acid to 2 grams of jaggery in a test tube. Formation of bubbles in the test tube indicates the presence of washing powder.
There are other methods of precaution one could take in order to avoid falling prey to the vicious ways of adulteration, such as-
- From amongst the different forms sold in the market, its best to buy hard jaggery.