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sugar caneEver since my kids were little, this has been my staple for taking to fetes and school race days, to birthday parties and picnics, even to mums’ gatherings where it is likely a bribe might be required at some stage.  It’s sugar cane,  a chewing variety, just with the tough outer layer peeled off and chopped into sections. It’s still tough and fibrous, but kids love to suck and chew the sweet juice then throw away the fibre left.

I have had the same cultivar of red sugar cane growing for over quarter of a century now.  It’s a beautiful plant, two metre tall deep purple canes growing in clumps and needing very little attention.  I can’t remember where it came from or what it was called, but I think it is probably Georgia Red, a variety specially bred for chewing.

red sugar cane

In my subtropical climate it grows easily and I normally have several stands growing at any one time on the south side of garden beds.  I can cut a length of cane whenever I want some.  After a couple of years, a patch starts getting rambling. Old canes straggle and lie down and the patch needs serious cleaning up and thinning out. To create a new patch,  I cut metre long lengths of cane in late summer and plant them horizontally, just lightly covered.  In spring the cane shoots up from each bud.  There’s probably a more efficient way to get better yields, but this is no work and means I have a treat available on a moment’s notice.

It’s also pretty hardy. It needs water and it doesn’t like a heavy frost, and it needs some real heat to sprout (maybe use a glasshouse?), but it can cope with quite cool weather and if you are not out for maximum productivity the range can probably extend well into temperate regions.

Sugar cane eaten like this is actually quite healthy.  It’s a fun way rather than a fast way to eat sugar. It has a low GI, the chewing and fibre makes it good for teeth, it has a fair range of minerals and some really good phytonutrients that have lots of traditional medicinal properties now being researched.

Instantly available, no bake, highly popular, reasonably healthy – the perfect kid’s party food.