Sukang Irok: The Perfect Sweet and Sour Vinegar from Santa Teresita, Batangas

Santa Teresita Batangas

Santa Teresita Batangas

Where did the Sukang Irok come from?

Sukang Irok, also called Kaong Palm Vinegar or Sukang Kaong, is a traditional Filipino vinegar made from the sap of the sugar palm tree. It is commonly found in upland areas in Irukan, Santa Teresita Batangas, where Kaong or Irok in Tagalog, is either voluntarily growing or purposely being planted in the riverbanks.

The traditional Filipino vinegar used in the sinaing has a tendency to be sweeter and is the least sour of the bunch.

Santa Teresita Batangas

Where does the Irok/Kaong come from?

The scientific name for the specific palm tree from which kaong is harvested is Arenga pinnata. Literally hundreds of kaong nuts can be found dangling from one tree.

The majority of people are unaware of the origins of kaong, including the appearance of the “coconut palm nut” tree, the appearance of the fruits on the tree, and, most importantly, the method used to harvest the fruits and nuts.

The fruit of the sugar palm tree is called kaong. The adorable-sized fruits, which are translucent white in appearance and chewy in texture, are a common component in haluhalo. They resemble very chubby jellybeans in certain ways. We have only ever heard of kaong as coming from a bottle or jar containing sweet syrup.

Santa Teresita Batangas

How does Irok/Kaong Palm Tree produce vinegar?

Santa Teresita Batangas

The most common outcome of palm tree sap is an alcoholic beverage called tuba. However, when matured, it generates vinegar.

To standardize the acidity and sugar levels in kaong palm vinegars for mass manufacturing, additional steps are added to the conventional process. The tapayan jar-fermented vinegar is pasteurized before being kept in food-safe plastic barrels. Before being put into bottles, they are given another two to three years to age. Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and benzoic acid are all present in kaong palm vinegars.

Sukang Irok Upgrade Tool in Irucan, Santa Teresita Batangas

“Sukang Irok upgraded from the traditional process to industrialized fermentation as its producer”

DSWD’s convergence strategy is one of the most recent initiatives to strengthen its social protection programs. The SLP-Brgy. program in Sta. Teresita Batangas focuses on improving capacity. Irukan is an improvement to the traditional Irok vinegar production technique that helps underprivileged households build their labor and business skills. This upgrading was connected to DOST Batangas’s supply of technical assistance for the manufacturing of Irok vinegar using the Acetator Set.

Santa Teresita Batangas
Photo Source: John Maico Hernandez and Mhark Ellgine Libao

The ITDI-developed Acetator Kit is designed to speed up the usual digestion process and also has the capability to produce naturally fermented vinegar. It is simple to use, can be set up in the countryside, requires a small processing area, and can be operated with a small initial operating volume, allowing for daily product extraction from the fermentor. Most notably, this may transform the majority of sugary substances—such as dried mango wasted syrups, pineapple waste, coconut water, sugar cane, and sugar palm (arengga)—into vinegar.

The DSWD SLP Santa Teresita Batangas purchased an ITDI-developed Vinegar Acetator Kit for Irukan SLPA, which will help them improve their irok vinegar production process, after technical consultation with DOST Batangas. For the beneficiaries to be completely informed about the product that they are creating, training in its use and lectures on improving irok vinegar have been crucial.


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Written by Kyle Tumambing

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