Sugar cane, a member of the grass family, is a large stalk used to make the crystallized sugar found in your local grocery store. It has become increasingly easier to find the raw sugar cane stalk itself, particularly in areas with large Southeast Asian or South Pacific populations. It can be eaten out of hand, used as a skewer when grilling or used as a swizzle stick in cocktails. Storing this raw sugar cane properly will ensure you get the most enjoyment out of this sweet treat.
Purchase the freshest raw sugar cane possible. The stalk should be a light green or pale yellow in color with brownish-red marks, and the flesh should be milky white and juicy. The outside of the cane should not be white, should not have large cracks or black spots, and the flesh should never be dark or dry.
Rinse the outer bark of the sugar cane under running tap water. Thoroughly dry the sugar cane before storing.
Cut large stalks down to a size that will fit in your refrigerator. Use a sharp knife that is able to cut through the fibrous stalk.
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Wrap each end of the raw sugar cane in plastic wrap or a plastic bag secured with a rubber band to prevent moisture loss.
Store the sugar cane at the bottom of your refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you have a storage drawer designed specifically for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh, place the cane in this drawer.
Inspect the ends of the sugar cane periodically to see if the ends are drying out or the flesh is darkening. Raw sugar cane with slightly dark or dry flesh isn’t dangerous, but the flavor won’t be as good.
Freeze the sugar cane tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, or in a sealable plastic bag if storing for longer periods of time, generally a few months. Leave the cane frozen when using as a skewer for meats, but thaw each cane for other uses.
Sugar cane dries out and loses sweetness from the moment it is cut. Try to use your raw sugar cane as quickly as possible for the best flavor.
Thinner, heavier canes are often sweeter, which means they will stay sweeter longer.
Raw sugar cane can be stored in alcohol for longer periods of time. Cut off strips of the sugar cane and place in a jar filled with a clean, neutral alcohol like vodka. The cane will be usable for months and the remaining liquid will be a sweet liquor for drinking.
A graduate student in Boston, MA, Michael Kay has been a professional writer for over five years. After working in political communications, he began working as a copywriter for a national advertising agency based in Chicago. His work can be found in college textbooks, corporate marketing materials and across the Web. He has a Bachelor of Arts in magazine feature writing from Ball State University.