Kokuto (lit. “black sugar”) is a regional brown sugar from Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost tropical islands. It was first produced over 300 years ago during the Edo era and has since become one of Okinawa's best known local specialties.
Different from regular brown sugar, kokuto is made from 100% local sugarcane which is pressed to squeeze out its sweet, raw juice. It has a rich licorice flavor with hints of caramel and toffee and is considered a healthier alternative to regular sugar given its high levels of calcium, iron, and vitamin B.
Here the licorice flavors of kokuto are combined with the toasted, nutty flavors of black sesame seeds to create a not-overly sweet, with a hint of spice, nutty jam.
Satoshi Nakasone, the founder of Nakasone Kokuto, quit his company job to make kokuto when he was 32 years old after meeting an “ojii” (the affectionate name for grandfather or older man) who gave him the opportunity to taste real authentic kokuto. Nakasone Kokuto still uses traditional methods to make their kokuto: they start with the first squeeze of sugarcane juice from their own sugarcanes (the first squeeze is the most pure and robust in flavor) and cook the juice for over 5 hours in a kiln. This helps to preserve the nutrients and minerals and results in a richer flavor. “We will not compromise on quality and will only make products that we can also give to our children.”
Suggested uses: Use as you would jam (spread on bread, crackers, pancakes, crepes and more) or in recipes to add licorice, nutty flavor to your desserts.
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