Muscovado: The healthy option, 2

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, July 31, 2014


THE Hawaiian-Philippine Company in Silay is also a producer of muscovado sugar (proud Silay product as the pioneer muscovado in “Silay Muscovado Festival” at Balay Negrense every November 5). HPCo has its own muscovado story to tell.

Muscovado is a product that is identical to the “original sugar” made centuries ago prior to the development of sugar mills and the modern, very high capacity automated processing plants and refineries.

The muscovado process is relatively simple, yet one that requires special skills and a feel for the cane and the boiling process. It is no wonder that the muscovado sugar boiler is called “The Maestro.”

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Most of the muscovado producing areas have declined or disappeared due to problems of competition from the large low cost commodity producers and the necessity of producing muscovado in small batches. To date there are relatively few “true” muscovado producers left in the world. (Beware of false producers!)

Modern sugar manufacturers do their best to separate everything from the cane part in order to end up with a pure crystalline sucrose product. In the process, they remove many of the good parts of the cane plant, which would otherwise provide beneficial natural elements, such as potassium and phosphorus that the human body needs.

The Hawaiian-Philippine company muscovado sugar is made in small batches from specifically selected sugarcane in order to provide a consistent product made in hygienic conditions. The cane for the muscovado production is milled at HPCo in an 1873 model “MirrleesTait and Watsons” sugar mill which was originally designed to be driven by oxen.

The sugar is boiled in stainless steel “kawa” and mixed and packed in a controlled environment. HPCo has been making sugar in Silay, Negros Occidental since 1918. The men and women behind HPCo are proud to say that they have a deep understanding of sugar manufacturing and enough of a sense of history to preserve the healthful and original sugar product.

(End of story)

I am convinced of the storytelling. I am a Silaynon and I am a living sane witness to that. HPCo muscovado production could be best illustrated following a process. Normally, there is a delivery of 12 tons of sugarcane per day. The canes are scaled and brought to mill for juice extraction. The bagasse goes to main sugar mill to be stocked at baled bagasse bodega to be used as fuel for juice boiling.

From the mill, the juice proceeds to Java screen then to receiving tank. The solid impurities are to be made into compost fertilizer. From the receiving tank, the juice goes to the fifth “kawa” for juice heating , to the fourth “kawa” for juice liming, to the third “kawa” for juice concentration, to the second “kawa” for juice concentration again, and then to the first “kawa” (the last) for another juice concentration. In the first four “kawas” the scum is properly removed. The scum refers to the impurities which rise to the surface of the juice during the boiling. The four “kawas” are used for classification and evaporation. That simply proves that there is an excellent process needed to come up with a quality product.

What is left in the last “kawa” is the concentrated syrup (crystallized)that would be poured out into the stainless steel mixing trays where it will cool and “shock” into muscovado sugar. (I have personally seen the step-by-step process in the Boiling House (fully screened under close supervision, monitoring, and every move of the workers conforms to the sanitary standards).

There is a vibrating screen that pulverizes lumps. The finished product (fine sugar) is handled with care in the packaging department before it proceeds to the storage facility. Two tons of sugar goes out to the market every day. HPCo packaging of muscovado product reveals state-of-the-art marketing, an advocacy to promote health and wellness, and heart pounding information that will make every Negrosanon proud of the sugar industry.

HPCo muscovado comes from naturally grown high yielding canes. The syrup has passed the fully functional sugar laboratory with complete analytical equipment. There are complete shops to service the accouterments. HPCo muscovado has “Halal Certification” issued by the Islamic Da’wah council of the Philippines (IDCP). It is “Halal” and Lawful for the consumption of the Muslims.

The next time you think of muscovado sugar, consider HPCo Muscovado. It is the healthy option, proud Silay product, and carries the trademark of a sweet Negrosanon.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 31, 2014.

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