If refined — even minimally processed — sugars aren’t your thing, then a jaggery sugar may be right up your alley. Jaggery is the closest you can get to sugar as it was done thousands of years ago. It’s made the truly old-fashioned way: by boiling cane juice in broad pans until most of the water has evaporated, then allowing the syrup to cool and crystallize into a thick slurry of crystals. At that point it’s poured into a conical mold with a hole at the bottom so the molasses can run out. A week or so later you have…this!
Here it’s important to note that jaggery can be made from either cane or date palm sugar. This, I was very surprised to learn this morning, is palm sugar. I jimmied a piece off the side with a knife and sure enough it tasted like dates. I also thought the burlap sack was a nice touch. Jaggery sugars are made and sold all over southern and south eastern Asia. They can be light or dark and have a variety of flavors, from very mild to quite strong indeed.