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Producing traditional Wasanbon – ”Okada Sugar Manufacture

Producing traditional Wasanbon -
”Okada Sugar Manufacture

Precious sugar cane called ”Chikutoh”

Refined sweetness and a gentle melt-in-the-mouth sensation. Recently, ”wasanbon” has been used for Western confectionery as well as for Japanese confectionery. Wasanbon’s fascination exists in the mild taste which is quite different from ordinary sugar.
Wasanbon is produced from a variety of sugar cane called ”chikutoh”. Although ordinary sugar cane is thick and tall, ”chikutoh”, which literally means bamboo sugar in Japanese, is thin and fragile looking. Chikutoh is said to have an extraordinary taste even if you bite into a raw plant. Currently, chikutoh is only cultivated in Tokushima and some areas in Kagawa. Since ”wasanbon” is produced only in these regions, it is considered quite rare.

Manually producing sugar

Wasanbon production is quite interesting because it can help us appreciate the difficulties people experienced in the past to attain white sugar. At the Okada Sugar Manufacture where ”wasanbon” is produced manually, even now, we can observe the difficulties of the forefathers.
For example, there is a process called ”oshibune”, for which the technique of ”funeshibori” used by Japanese sake breweries is used. The process called ”Mizutogi” is unique to Japan and cannot be found in any other places in the world. ”Oshibune” is a process where a heavy stone is placed on sugar that has been boiled down and stirred sugar, to squeeze out molasses, while ”mizutogi” is a process where water is added to the squeezed sugar for further kneading. Because white sugar cannot be obtained by merely squeezing out the molasses, the process of kneading and squeezing are repeated several times. In the past, people repeated these processes three times, leading to the name ”sanbontoh” (repeating the process three times on a tray).

甘さだけでなく風味も感じる味わい

1度の研ぎには1日かかり、気温や湿度、砂糖の性質によって水の量や研ぐ時間を変えなければならない。均一な砂糖を手際よく練り上げるにも熟練が必要だ。職人の手の感覚がすべてモノをいうという、大変な世界。この古い手法を守っているのは、現在では限られた製糖所のみである。普通の砂糖では製糖してショ糖分のみにしてしまうが、和三盆はサトウキビの元の成分が多分に残っている。製糖技法としては不完全なのだが、逆にそれが風味の豊かさを生み出しているのだ。
こうしてつくられた和三盆は、干菓子のように和三盆そのものを固めたお菓子になるほど、風味も口溶けもいい。まさに、日本人の知恵が込められているのだ。

ACCESS

Okada Sugar Manufacture
Haranakasuji-12-1 Izumidani, Kamiita, Itano District, Tokushima
URL http://www.wasanbon.co.jp/english/index.html