Purple sugar cane stalks cut fresh in the summertime can create sweet memories, literally. I remember the first time a neighbor cut a piece of cane stalk off and using a pocket knife cut off the purplish striped bark to reveal a juicy white piece of goodness. “Just gnaw on that a minute” was the advice I got. Sure enough, a crunchy sweet experience, in retrospect, kinda like chewing a sweet, juicy water chestnut.
To plant, just take a single stalk and either lay it in a shallow ditch and cover with soil. You can also cut it into pieces about 6-10″ leaving several nodes where the new stalks will emerge..
Cane sugar is probably the best know byproduct of sugarcane, but most sugar I see on the shelf lately is beet sugar. In my area the non commercial growers are growing scarce and mainly grow it to make molasses and cane syrup. That is why I put these stalks in the ground. Some cane is better “chewin” cane and some is better “boiling” cane.
The canes are cut fresh and ran through a cane mill to squeeze out the juice. I have never seen a commercial press, but the ones I have seen used are small gear driven press usually powered by walking a horse tied to a pole around in a circle. This turns the gear that drives the press. The last time I went to see a neighbor boiling syrup, he used this setup, but with a lawn tractor as the “horse”.I thought I took pictures, but I cant fine them
This vintage picture shows a man feeding canes through the press and the gears being powered by a 1 HP powerhouse.
With all the work that went into getting table syrup and molasses, it’s no wonder it was such a treat.
Kinda makes you wonder about what our kids will think of as “a treat”.
There is a really good book series out that was created and edited back in the 70’s called Foxfire. Book 11 has some plans for the furnace and boiling table that heats the cane syrup and boils off the water to make the molasses. Check out this link .
I’ll post some pics later when the stalks come up and when we boil it down. I planted some in the fences garden area and some just out in the yard as a border. It’s basically a grass so why not!