Sugarcanes are tough and require a particular juicer to break down the tough stalks properly. I purchase mine fresh from a local store and I juice the sugarcanes there (nothing extra added to the juice!).It is possible to juice them at home too but you first need to cut the sugarcane into thin small strips so it's easier on your juicer.Optionally, before moving to step two, you can boil the juice to remove any impurities. However, it is safe to consume it without boiling it. To boil - add the juice to a large heavy-bottom pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Foam will appear on the top of the mixture, which is from all the impurities. Skim off the foam and continue to boil until there is none left (20-30 minutes). Then remove the juice from the heat and carry on to step two. Boiling the juice will also cause the color of the final sugar to be darker.
Step 2: Dehydrate the juice
Pour the sugarcane juice into a large oven-safe/dehydrator-safe dish. Ideally, you want as thin of a layer of the liquid as possible, so it dehydrates quicker. For that reason, using several containers is best.
Place the tray/s in your dehydrator (or oven if it goes low enough) at 140-150ºF/60-65ºC (the lower, the better). This process will take between 24-48 hours, depending on how thick your layer of juice is and the amount that you're dehydrating.
During the evaporation period, the juice will first begin to look like a thick syrup and then will thicken and start to resemble a wet molasses-y sugar. The color will be dark due to the molasses.I recommend starting to break up the crystals and mix them before the water is completely evaporated. That way, the sugar will dry out more evenly. You can do this a couple of times to make sure the edges don't brown too quickly.
Once it's very dark but no longer too "wet," you can break it down into smaller crystals with a bench scraper, sharp knife, or in a food processor. This is your unrefined cane sugar!
Method 2: How to Make Jaggery
Juice the sugarcane as in the method above. Then pour the juice into a large, heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Scoop off any foam that appears at the top as it boils as these are the impurities coming to the surface. Then reduce the heat to medium and continue to boil, removing the foam until there is none left, then stirring often until the mixture becomes a thick syrupy consistency that drops from your spoon in rivulets.This entire process will take between 40-60 minutes usually. It will first be very liquidy and become quite "clear" in color, then become super bubbly and golden before thickening down into a golden syrupy "slurry" consistency. At this point, you have liquid jaggery, called "kakvi."
Remove the syrup from the heat and stir it constantly for several minutes (or longer depending on how much you're making) to cool down the mixture. When it's a really thick syrup consistency, transfer it to a large oiled deep baking tray (or multiple) – I like to use enough trays that make it, so the jaggery is no bigger than 1 inch in thickness.To test that the mixture is ready to transfer, you can drop some of the syrup into a glass of cold water – it should solidify and "ball up" when touched.
Either allow this mixture to dry at room temperature until it's a solid mass (which can take 24hrs+ depending on the temperature and climate) OR use a dehydrator/oven to speed up the dehydration process. The time it takes to cool will depend on how thick it is and the temperature/humidity/climate.
Once it is in a solid state, use a knife to cut the block into smaller pieces and then transfer these to a large airtight container- your jaggery is ready! Alternatively, you can break pieces down into jaggery powder and store them that way.
How to Store?
You can store either the unrefined cane sugar or jaggery in an airtight container at room temperature for between 3-4 months. It may last even further, up to 6 months – but I've not tried that far (yet).
Make sure the juice is fresh: if you're able to source fresh sugarcane juice, that's what you need for these methods. You don't want one that has any preservatives/add-ins.
Make sure to stir while the jaggery cools: if you don't, it will stick to the container – you want it to remain liquid until you transfer it.
Remove the jaggery from the heat at the right time: this can take a little practice, but you'll soon come to tell when your mixture is ready. If you stop the heat too early or late, then the color will change, and it won't melt the way it should. Using the water test to see if it's "balling up" helps (mentioned in the recipe).
Check the blog post for tips on how to use both the unrefined cane sugar and jaggery.