Sauteed Apples with Palm Sugar (RECIPE)

August 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

Since the apple tree has been dropping two apples per day in its self-thinning routine, I felt an urge to find an edible use for all of that fruit (and that apple-calvados jelly recipe I mentioned earlier just wasn’t meeting the “edible” bar for me).

This morning, just back from a weekend trip for a friend’s elegant and joy-filled wedding (and thus, without my weekly produce purchase from our neighborhood’s Saturday farmers market), I decided to give it a go with the green apples. This simple recipe turned out pretty tasty, which is a good thing as I’m guessing I’ll be eating it a lot until the apples are ready for their true harvest later this summer.

Sauteed Apples with Palm Sugar

(for two)

2 unripe apples (though you could use regular green apples or any apples if you wanted to)

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1-2 teaspoons evaporated palm sugar* — to taste

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Peel, core and slice the apples into approximately 16 slices per apple. Quarter the apple then slice each quarter into 4 slices.

Heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter. Add the apple slices and saute for 4-5 minutes until they soften.

In the meantime, chop the thyme leaves.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar over the apples and saute for another 2-3 minutes until the apples are the desired consistency. Taste for sweetness, and add more sugar if you like. Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the apples, saute for another 30 seconds or so, then take off the heat and serve.

*Note: Palm sugar is used in southeast and south Asian cooking, and I bought some recently as I wanted a tastier sweetener in my life. I like the depth of flavor that palm sugar (along with thyme) adds to the tart apples in this recipe — and I also like all of the other benefits that buying and using palm sugar (listed below) offer.

But, you could substitute the palm sugar with brown sugar if you like.

What is evaporated palm sugar?

  • Flavor Profile: Palm sugar is unrefined and unbleached with a richer, more complex flavor than granulated white or brown sugars. It has caramel, butterscotch and molasses flavors and ends on a clean note, rather than being assertively sweet and leaving an aftertaste like cane sugar.
  • How It’s Made: Palm sugar is produced by boiling down the nectar of coconut palm blossoms, evaporating the moisture and grinding it to a fine crystal. Farmers shimmy up coconut trees, slice open the blossoms and collect the nectar, then boil it later that day.
  • Ecologically Sustainable: Coconut palms produce an average of 50-75% more sugar per acre than sugar cane and use less than 1/5th the nutrients for that production. Tropical palms are an ecologically beneficial tree crop that grows in diverse, wild-life supportive ecosystems (vs. mono-crop planting areas), restore damaged soils and require very little water. That’s an impressive plant! Too bad it’s way too cold to have one of these in my backyard.
  • Highly  Nutritious: Palm sugar is naturally low on the glycemic index, releasing energy slowly to sustain the human body in its daily activities without regular sugar “highs” and “lows”. Because it’s unrefined, it retains numerous nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C.

I buy the Sweet Tree brand, which I like personally because it partners with small farmers in Java, Indonesia, which is where my mother and her family are from originally. 100% of the revenue from growing, harvesting and primary processing of the palm sugar stays in the local community. These farmers grow myriad crops on their land, supporting biodiverse landscapes that enrich the soil, preserving water sources and sustaining the local biome to ensure that trees are maintained and not cut down. For those of you in San Francisco, you can find it at Canyon Market, but otherwise you can buy it online.


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