Harvesting: Ovan Diputra, Luh and Nyoman’s son, is both a university student and a palm sugar farmer.For centuries past, the people of Kawan Besan in Klungkung have been cooking up the palm sugar or gula merah that is the lifeblood of their town.
Made from the sap of coconut palms, gula merah producer, Luhwirasamini, says its origins are lost in the minds of her ancestors.
“I learned to make gula merah from my mother and her mother before her — it comes from the knowledge of our nenek moyang [ancestral grandmothers],” says Luh as she is known locally.
Palm sugar is known throughout Java where it is produced in staggering amounts, however the gula merah of Bali is in a different league, according to Luh who says Bali’s variety is still pure and made without preservatives or additives. This means the sugar has a limited shelf life and as yet, cannot be expor...