Analysis

100% coconut blossom sugar ... right?!

Whether agave syrup from Mexico, maple syrup from Canada or rice syrup from Asia - alternatives to the classic household sugar from the domestic sugar beet are very trendy. Recently, coconut blossom sugar and syrup, sweeteners that have been used in their countries of origin for many years but are only just taking off here and becoming increasingly more popular.

But what actually makes coconut blossom sugar so special?

There's no question that an exotic sugar with a traditional production process has a certain appeal compared to the familiar white cube from the packet. It is produced from the sweet nectar of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), whose inflorescences are cut by the farmers for harvesting. The collected sap is then thickened, producing coconut blossom syrup. Further boiling down produces crystalline sugar. Before it is shipped all over the world, the sugar is crushed by grinding, sieved and dried in a laborious manual process.

In addition to the expected sweetness, the yellow-brownish coconut blossom sugar has a very malty taste that invites experimentation with new recipes. Lastly, it is said to have a fairly low glycemic index and a high proportion of minerals, i.e. health-promoting properties. Due to the sparse data, however, the latter is still quite controversial.

But the price is also special, because consumers have to dig deep into their wallets for coconut blossom sugar or syrup. Not rarely the price lies around a multiple higher than that of the usual household sugar, which would be still bearable for itself taken. However, a recent article in the consumer magazine "Öko-Test" (April 2021) suggests that of the coconut blossom sugars tested in Germany, almost every second product contained foreign sugar.

Is cheap sugar being used here? The suspicion is at least obvious, because not only traces of foreign sugar, but estimated proportions of 20-30% were detected.

Quality control

Especially sugar from sugar cane, which is also grown in Asia, can be used to "stretch" products from the coconut palm. To detect this adulteration, the technique of isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) is used. In this field, our laboratory has many years of experience, as the methodology is also used to verify the authenticity of honey. The delta-13C values of coconut blossom sugar and cane sugar differ significantly, allowing mixtures of both sugars to be determined (see diagram).

Figure: delta-13C values of authentic and non-authentic coconut blossom sugar as well as cane sugar.
Figure: delta-13C values of authentic and non-authentic coconut blossom sugar as well as cane sugar.

Analysis of the sugar spectrum can provide indications of unnaturally high concentrations of glucose and fructose as well as foreign sugars such as maltose.

Microbiological analysis and the water content or aW value provide indications of the stability of the product. Sulfite or sulfur dioxide can be added to fresh flower juice to prevent fermentation and are subject to mandatory labeling in the EU as allergens above 10 mg/kg. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QAV) and chlorate/perchlorate may be due to disinfectants, e.g. in syrup filling plants.

Further analyses for (heavy) metals (e.g. zinc, lead, copper, mercury, arsenic) and pesticides complete our offer for the quality control of your coconut blossom sugar and syrup.

If you have any further questions about coconut sugar/syrup, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Directly at +49 9101-70183-0 or by email info@foodqs.de.

©FoodQS, August 2021