Palm Treacle

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Treacle was originally the name of a medicinal mixture which was most likely used as an antidote against poisons, in particular venomous bites. The name is derived from Old French triacle, in turn from Latin theriaca meaning “antidote to poison”.
Code: P1-0701
Categories: Processed Food Items, Treacle, Products
This medicine originally had honey as its base, but at some point the honey was replaced with treacle. Over time the pharmacological meaning died out, and around the 17th century in Britain the word ‘treacle’ took on its present day meaning, and was used chiefly as a cheap form of sweetener.

In Sri Lanka treacle is made by refining the sap extracted from either a kithul or a coconut tree. Both forms of treacle have distinct tastes.

Palm (Kithul) Treacle

The kithul tree (Caryota urens) is a palm that grows up to 20 metres high and produces large hanging clusters of flowers near the top. Tappers are the heirs of a 2000-year tradition, braving the ascent twice daily to extract the sap.

They do this by first gashing the base of the flower-cluster stalk, called a mala, then applying a herbal mixture to the 'wound' to stimulate it to excrete sap. This prevents the flower from maturing so quickly, since mature flowers cannot be used for harvesting. After two days, the mala is ready. The tapper ties together the hanging flowers, and cuts off their ends, positioning a clay pot beneath to collect the dripping sap. The pot is replaced twice a day. Kithul sap is used to make treacle and a hardened solid version of it known as jaggery.

Savoured for thousands of years, even by royalty, the genuine treacle is a “must-have” accompaniment to curd and a common ingredient in baking. Also called kithul honey and sometimes confused with molasses, has a unique taste and aroma that is more similar to maple syrup. As an all-natural, chemical-free products with no additives or preservatives, treacle is a healthy alternative to granular sugar.

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