How to Eat Sugar Cane

Nearly 18 years ago, in Cameroon, someone nonchalantly gave me sugar cane to gnaw on. I clearly remember my amazement over the sweet juices oozing out of what looked like a stalk of bamboo. Having never spent much time wondering where sugar or any of my other food came from, it was an eye opening moment.

Of course, when I tried to recreate that moment for my children it seemed to fall flat. They were extremely excited to try it, evening dancing around the house with the cane and singing songs in it’s honor. But when the moment of truth came, they were a little disappointed by how much work it took to extract the juices. Lazy buggers.

If you cross paths with a piece of sugar cane and want to try it out, here’s what you do:  

1. Wash the cane. Cut off a couple inches at each end.

2. Score the hard outer layer of the cane with a serrated knife. I found it easiest to use the part of the knife closest to my hand for more leverage and pulling toward me when sawing action was required.

3. After the outer layer is cut all the way around it should be easy to cut or break the piece of cane off.

4. Stand the piece on end and cut off the outer layer.

5. If desired, cut the cane into smaller strips or chunks. Serve along with instructions that the cane is to be chewed and sucked on but not swallowed. I did a quick demo for my kids before they dove in.

After all the fun of tasting sugar cane was over, I was curious enough to find a video about how sugar is processed. I used to think white sugar was not nearly as bad as high fructose corn syrup. But I might have been wrong. There’s a mention of sulfur dioxide vapors, powdered lime, and bleach in this video.

[Sigh.]

It’s probably going to take me a couple years to accept this information and do something concrete about it. Has anyone ever tried to cut added sugar out of their family’s diet for a week? Would it be possible?