History felt in the production of Guanshan brown sugar (2014/03/12)
During the Japanese colonial period, restrictions on sugar production led to the creation of an underground industry similar to that seen in tobacco and alcohol. This pushed sugar production to remote areas like Guanshan, Tainan. Today a manufacturer based in Guanshan keeps this tradition alive by using ancient techniques to make brown sugar.
Hot syrup flows like magma, filling the air with a wonderful aroma.
The maker still uses a traditional wood-fired stove to turn this sugar cane juice into syrup. He stirs it by hand to form brown sugar. Eight hours is needed to complete the process from boiling the sugar to end product. The natural, traditional flavor stirs memories in many, making the time spent worthwhile.
The method shown here began during the Japanese colonial period. At that time, sugar-making was a heavily restricted state-run industry. Guanshan, located near the Nanhua Reservoir in Tainan, was known as a secret land for sugar production invisible from the authorities.
In the past you had to walk four or five hours to come here. It was outside the realm of the law. You weren’t likely to be discovered.
Sugar Cane Farmer
Everything back then was done quietly. You often worried if someone would come to make an inspection. You would make some then quickly conceal it.
The method used here has been passed down over two generations. It gives the sugar a wonderful flavor made possible by diligent attention to craft.
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