One of our most popular ice cream flavours is the Elephant House Hakuru Mix, a decadent sweet treat with swirls of jaggery sauce that melts in your mouth. The combined sweetness of the vanilla ice cream and the woody, smokey and floral notes of jaggery in its thick, sticky form in our ‘Hakuru Mix’ never fails to amaze the taste buds of anyone who chooses to indulge in it.
Kithul jaggery locally known as ‘hakuru’ is commonly paired with a hot cup of black Ceylon tea, a treat enjoyed by almost all Sri Lankans at least once in a lifetime. ‘Hakuru’ is also used in other authentic Sri Lankan desserts. This love for ‘hakuru’ has inspired us to offer Sri Lankans another whole new way of enjoying it, hence the birth of Elephant House Hakuru Mix.
Sri Lanka’s beloved natural sweetener, Kithul jaggery, is made from the sap harvested from the Fishtail Palm or the Jaggery Palm that grow in abundance all over the island. Harvesting of palm sap can be a risky task. Usually, a tapper climbs up a wooden lattice tied to a side of the palm tree that usually grows up to a height of 40-feet. Then he makes a sharp incision at the base of a cluster of flowers that droop down from a branch like a bunch of grapes and ties a jute sack to the base of the cluster to collect droplets of sap trickling down from the flower. Once the sap is collected for several days, it is usually boiled over an open wood fire until it reduces to a sticky and intensely sweet syrup known as treacle with the colour and thickness of honey, out of which jaggery is made.
The bittersweet truth about Sri Lanka’s much-loved sweetener is that its future is uncertain. A host of factors have led to the recent scarcity of this once-abundant sweetener including the clearing of rainforest buffer zones and the reduction of the home gardens, which has led to the diminishing numbers of the Jaggery Palm trees in the country.
The Jaggery Palm demands an intrinsic understanding of its various stages of flowering and sap production and It can take up to 15 years of constant care for the Kithul tree to flower and produce sap.
As Jaggery Palm may take time to yield return, cultivation of alternative crops such as pepper, tea, chillies are considered a more reliable source of income, challenging the future of treacle and jaggery industry as a whole in Sri Lanka.
Changing lifestyles and social values within rural areas also have reduced the number of skilled palm tappers in the country. Orthodox tappers hold a wealth of knowledge about the tree and tapping techniques that are passed down the generations, a process that is being threatened as the younger generation opt for safer, lucrative and less labour intensive employment opportunities
In order to instil value and pride in this essential and ingenious industry that produces ingredients for our Elephant House Hakuru Mix, Ceylon Cold Stores (CCS) have embarked on a journey to make it rewarding for our Jaggery Palm farmers and tappers.
In 2009 CCS entered a forward buying agreement with a collective of Jaggery Palm farmers, Krushi Swayan Rekiya Samithiya (KSRS), in the Southern province of Sri Lanka to source our Jaggery, thereby ensuring a steady source of income for the farmers and tappers. Currently, we support over 200 farmers that receive rewarding compensations for their sweet labour of love.