I remember in childhood feasting on Sugarcanes during Shankranthi festival as it is a custom in Karnataka to distribute a piece of Sugarcane to friends and relatives on this harvest festival. We kids would tear off the tough skin with our teeth and chew and suck on the white inner flesh and spit out the roughage. My grandfather used to encourage us to eat sugarcane in this manner and used to say that our teeth would become stronger and remain healthy for a long time.
The botanical name is Saccharum officinarum, and it belongs to the family Gramineae (grass). In Kannada it is known as Khabbu and in Hindi it is Ganne.
Sugarcane is grown in sub-tropical and tropical climate and is a native of South Asia and South East Asia. The plants prefer ample sun and lots of water. Sugarcane grows to a height of 20 feet. The stalks are thick with nodes and fibrous that is rich in sugar. The leaves are attached to the nodes. The leaves wrap around the stem and are long and thin like a blade of grass. Sugarcane flowers are a visual treat swaying in the wind high above. Each of the flower plumes consists of thousands of tiny flowers. These flowers produce seeds on pollination and is dispersed by wind.
Sugarcane was grown in India many thousands of years ago. Sugar was extracted from Sugarcane some 5,000 years ago in India. The Indian traders introduced sugar to Europe in the 18th century. From here it spread to all parts of the world. Currently, 110 countries grow sugarcane and 50 percent of the production is in Brazil and India.
From sugarcane, edible products like Sugarcane juice, Sugar, Falernum, Molasses, Rum, Candy, Jaggery are produced. Ethanol is produced to be used as a bio-fuel for automobiles in Brazil.
There is a great demand for sugarcane in the world’s economy because of the demand for sugar, and its byproducts.
The solid waste that is left after extraction of the sugar is known as pulp or sugarcane bagasse, which is dried and used as a fuel.
The most common method to propagate Sugarcane is through stem cutting. Each cutting must contain at least one bud and the cuttings are planted in soil.
Recipes using Sugarcane: