Jaggery syrup for baby toddler foods. I am back with the baby and toddler series after several readers requests. Jaggery is widely and most commonly used sweetener in Indian cuisine. It is made from mature sugar cane and is unrefined, wholesome and not stripped of nutrients. Though most jaggery are not chemical free, It is still considered to be far better than the refined white sugar. In most South Indian homes, it is the only sweetener used in traditional foods that are offered to God as Naivedyam.
This post may be useful to those who like to make Jaggery syrup and stock it for using in kids’ or baby food or in payasam or any other Indian recipes.
I have mentioned about this jaggery syrup in many baby food posts earlier and hence had few queries from readers on how to make it. This can be stored for about 3 months at room temperature and for over 6 months in refrigerator. But I am sure it will not last so long since you will love using it more often in your foods.
I generally make this with half a kg of jaggery and store it for using in Milk poha, Whole grain cornflakes or cereals, Sattu maavu, Oats & Ragi Porridge, Rasam, Sweet pongal, Halwa, Kheer Payasam etc.
It is always good to introduce Iron rich foods to a baby by 6 months of age as the iron store they are born with begins to deplete by this period. To compensate the loss many babies are put on iron drops or iron fortified cereals & formulas. Since Jaggery is a very good source of iron, it can be introduced to babies by 6 to 8 months after consulting a pediatrician. Do not use too much of Jaggery in your baby foods. Babies are most likely to develop a sweet tooth if sweetened foods are served often. Use Jaggery in moderation up to 3 times a week.
How to choose Jaggery?
Firstly “JAGGERY” cannot be made without treating the sugar cane juice using chemicals like Hydros, Sodium carbonate, calcium oxide (lime) etc. Sugar cane juice goes through a series of process like purification, bleaching, condensation etc during which the chemicals are used. Even organic jaggery has certain amount of chemicals used that is assumed to be fine for human consumption. So do not assume jaggery is healthy or a super food and over use it. Use it in moderation.
Always choose dark color jaggery and avoid the one that is bright and golden/yellow in color as the one you see in the picture below. This kind of jaggery is treated with lot many chemicals and is less flavorful than the regular dark one.
Aged jaggery is a better choice as the impact of chemical residue in them is said to be less. If it is not available in your region, you can buy jaggery in bulk and store it in an airtight steel container and seal it well with a cling wrap. Use it after 6 to 12 months.
The best choice is to go for organic jaggery that is dark in color and aged.
The picture below is that of the raw jaggery which was stored for an year in my kitchen. It begins to melt and turn soggy upon exposure to air since it is less processed. However I am not sure if raw jaggery can be used for babies before they turn one.
Once you finish making the syrup, it will be very dark brown in color with very thick froth if made using raw jaggery.
How to make jaggery syrup
These below step by step pictures were shot another time. I used the regular medium colored jaggery here.
1. Wash a clean glass jar or bottle to store the syrup. Wash it well with vinegar and rinse it a few times. Dry this completely.
2. Grate the jaggery and add to a pan. Add 3 to 4 tbsps of water for half kg jaggery.
3. Begin to melt on a low heat.
4. Stir until it melts completely.
5. Filter it to another heavy bottom pot. I prefer to double filter it and discard the bottom part.
6. Boil it on a low to medium heat until it turns slightly thick. The jaggery syrup must turn very sticky when you touch it. It should go past a single string consistency. If you are new to string consistency, just make sure it turns slightly thick and must coat the back of a spoon with a thin layer. Over cooking can make your jaggery syrup very thick. Once cooled down, the syrup thickens.
Cool this completely.
Store in a glass jar.