Friday, April 15, 2011

Healthy Drinks-1

Sweet  Sweet Sugar Cane Juice

Summers Of India are very hot. The day temperatures in most places are unbearable. From March to June this continues and if monsoon gets delayed it is even more difficult. But Mother Nature is so benevolent that she provides us with appropriate fruits, vegetables and other produce which helps us in surviving the seasons.

Well for summers we have so many natural products to enjoy. They are healthy, nutritious and help us to stay fit and healthy. One of them is Sugarcane. 

It is known as "Ganna" in Hindi and "Cheruku" in Telugu.

Sugar cane is a tall perennial grass. Its stem is tall and thick and it is grown from the cuttings of these stems. Stem cuttings are hand planted in the fields and this is the most popular method.The stems should have at least one bud. Once planted many harvests can be taken

It requires, tropical or temperate climates. It originated and was cultivated in Asia and South East Asia. Later on it was introduced to Egypt, Africa and introduced in America by Columbus.

India is perhaps the second largest producer of the cane. My state of Andhra Pradesh also grows this extensively as a commercial crop. 

It is a very popular commercial crop, as sugar, jaggery, molasses, Falernum, Rum and ethanol are produced out of it. The juice is extracted for this purpose and used. The  waste or the remaining fibrous matter known as "Bagasse" is used as fire wood, in paper industry, to protect house holds plants in summer etc. In India the Bagasse is used as fuel especially for making jaggery.

  • Can be eaten directly 
  • Extract juice and used as a refreshing drink
  • Sugar,  jaggery etc are used in our daily lives as sweeteners

We as children used to eat canes directly cut from the fields. We used to pull out the skin with our teeth, chew the inner fibrous portion thoroughly and then spit out the remaining Bagasse. Our mothers were worried that our teeth would be damaged. So they asked the canes to be cut into manageable pieces, remove the outer skin and then give to us. Actually vendors sell them from door to door in the season. Once we choose the cane they cut them into pieces remove the outer skin, so that they can be chewed. It is a hit with children even these days.

One of the most popular product derived from fresh sugar cane is its juice. It is popular through out India but more so in State.You will see one or two at each corner in each main street or busy areas. 

This is the crusher used for extracting sugar cane juice
See how the canes are fed into the crushers for juice.
               Cane juice

Benefits of consuming sugar cane juice are many:
  • It is natural and has no side effects
  • It is a good thirst quencher
  • It energises the drinker immediately
  • It is best in summers but can be consumed through the year
  • When one suffers from sun stroke, this revives the patient instantly
  • It is said to aid digestion as it has mild laxative
  • It improves the functioning of kidneys
  • It is said to be a good tonic for those who are suffering from jaundice
The vendors crush the canes by passing through two rollers to extract juice and then serve. The only problem with the fresh juice here in India is that the vendors who sell this is  don't keep their machines or vessels clean and also the ice used by them is not good. Because of this there are high chances of getting some infection or the other.

So what I do is go early as soon as the vendors start their business in the morning, see that they clean their machinery thoroughly, take my own vessel for collecting the juice directly and few bottles to carry it back.

The juice should be consumed immediately or else it gets spoiled. I store it in fridge till afternoon and then consume during the hot part of the day. But it should not be stored more than 6-7 hours even in refrigerator.

Now for the recipes..these are my own which my family and friends like it a lot....

1. Sweetie

Sugar cane juice     1 glass per head
Ice cubes

  • Chill the juice, add ice cubes and serve.
  • It is sweet naturally but you may add a little bit sugar if you feel so. Sometimes the juice may not be sweet enough too.

2. Honey-licious

Cane juice              1 huge glass
Honey                     1-2 tbsp
Lemon Juice            2 tsps
Salt                         a pinch
Cinnamon powder     1/2 tsp
Ice cubes

  • Chill the juice till served
  • In a tall glass pour the juice, half of honey and salt.
  • Stir it lightly till the honey and salt are mixed
  • Add the ice cubes and carefully pour the remaining honey on to the top of the cubes
  • Sprinkle cinnamon powder and serve
  • Try roasting the cinnamon slightly before powdering. It tastes differently

3. Tangy Treat

Cane Juice       1 huge glass
Lemon juice     2 tsp
Ginger juice      1 tsp
Sugar        To taste (if required)
Salt          a pinch
Ice cubes
Lemon slice 

  • Chill the juice
  • Just before serving mix the juice, sugar, lemon juice, ginger juice and salt, stir it lightly
  • pour it in the serving glass and add ice cubes
  • Cut a very thin slice of lemon. Make a small cut in the slice and fit it on the rim of the serving glass
  • Serve immediately

3. The Indian Tadka

Cane juice          1 huge glass
Lemon juice        2 tsps
Cumin                 1/2 tsp
Bishops weed or   1/4 tsp
Carom seeds         
Honey                 1-2 Tbsp
Black Rock salt       1/4 tp
ice cubes

  • Chill the cane juice till served
  • Roast the Cumin seeds and Bishop's weed separately and grind each to a coarse powder separately.
  • In a glass add the juice, honey, salt and stir it to mix them well. 
  • Add the ice cubes and sprinkle the spice powder  and serve.

4. Fresh n Minty

Cane juice        1 huge glass
Lemon Juice     1-2 tsps
Mint leaves       a handful
Honey               1 tbsp
Salt                  a pinch
crushed Ice      

  • Chill the juice till served
  • Wash the mint leaves and save 4-5 leaves for decoration. Extract juice out of the remaining ones. If you need strain it.
  • In a glass add the  cane juice,  lemon juice, salt, mint juice and half of the honey. Mix well.
  • add the crushed ice, pour on it the reaming honey, decorate with the mint leaves and serve

5. Spicy Punch

Cane juice          1-huge glass
Lemon juice        half a lemon
Honey                 2 Tbsps
3 Cs*   powder     1 tsp
Rock salt              1 tsp
Crushed ice

  • Chill the cane juice
  • The 3 Cs* are-Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon- roast the cloves and cinnamon slightly and powder all together. Take 1/4 to 1/2tsp of that powder
  • In a glass take the cane juice, lemon juice, honey  and rock salt. Mix well.
  • Add crushed ice and sprinkle the spice powder. Serve immediately

Note: adjust the ingredients-salt, honey lemon juice, ginger juice etc according to your taste

Some more recipes in my next post. Hope you try it out and enjoy it. Please let me know your comments and suggestions if any.....

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