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Sugarcane juice is the liquid extracted from pressed sugarcane. It is consumed as a beverage in many places, especially where sugarcane is commercially grown such as Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, North Africa, and Latin America. "Evaporated cane juice", as an ingredient in prepared food, is a misleading way of saying "sugar".
Sugarcane juice is obtained by crushing peeled sugar cane in a mill and is one of the main precursors of rum.
Raw sugar cane juice can be a health risk to drinkers due to the unhygienic conditions under which it is prepared in some countries with lower health standards. There are some diseases that can be transmitted by raw sugar-cane, such as Leptospirosis. In Brazil, sugarcane juice has been linked to cases of Chagas disease, as sugarcane can contain traces of its responsible pathogen, Trypanosoma cruzi, left by infected bugs if not properly cleaned.
Evaporated cane juice is a misleading term for "sugar". Sugar can include glucose or fructose. Sugar is a partially purified sugar syrup, produced from a single-crystallization process during sugar cane milling.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines evaporated cane juice as any sweetener derived from sugarcane syrup. The US FDA considers the term “evaporated cane juice” to be misleading because the term incorrectly suggests that it is a juice, when it is sugar syrup. Instead, the US FDA recommends using “sugar cane syrup” or “dried cane syrup” on food labels.
Sugarcane juice is sold by street vendors throughout India. The vendors put the sugarcane in a machine, which presses and extracts the sugarcane juice out. Sugarcane juice is usually served with a dash of lime or ginger juice.
In Indonesia, sugarcane juice drink is called minuman sari tebu. The iced sugar cane juice is called es tebu. In Indonesian, tebu is sugarcane and es is ice. It is one of traditional drink commonly sold on street-side in Indonesia. The sugarcane plant has been cultivated in Java since ancient times. The earliest record came from a 9th-century inscription dated from Medang Mataram period that describes a sweet drink called Nalaka Rasa which translate as sugarcane juice.
The sugarcane is extracted using a pressing machine to squeeze the sugary sap from sugarcane. The machine might be manually man-powered, fueled with gasoline, or electric-powered. The juice sold there are always served cold with ice cubes. Traditionally, it is sold throughout the country especially among street vendors that set their stall on the street side. However, today sugarcane drink vendors with much-improved hygiene can also be found in foodcourts in malls and shopping centers.
The government of Pakistan has declared sugarcane juice as the country's national drink.
Sugarcane juice, called nước mía or mía đá, is common in Vietnam as a drink. Other fruit juices may be added to balance the sweetness, such as kumquat or chanh muối. It is sold at street stalls in plastic bags filled with ice or in disposable plastic cups.
Sugarcane juice is also a refreshing drink in Africa. In Egypt, it is known as asab and is sold in juice shops around the country. The largest juice shop in Egypt is in Saft El Laban, Giza. Egyptians also mix lemon with asab and let it ferment to produce a fermented variant of the drink. The most highly prized asab comes from Minya, Egypt.
In the eastern region of Madagascar, sugarcane juice is fermented to make an inexpensive alcoholic beverage called betsa-betsa. The drink is popular with locals because it is cheaper than beer.
Joe Satran, "Trader Joe's Lawsuit Over 'Evaporated Cane Juice' Part of Firm's Crusade Against Mislabeled Foods", The Huffington Post, 29 March 2013.