RAWALPINDI: Enjoyed throughout the year, gunnay ka rus (sugarcane juice) stands out among fresh juices for being both healthy and refreshing.
The juice is extracted using a machine that presses fresh sugarcane, and instead of being stored in bottles, is preferred fresh.
Although the Potohar region is not among the areas where sugarcane is cultivated, sugarcane products are very popular in this part of the country.
Sugarcane is mostly brought from inner Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
There are a number of shops in the garrison city, from Murree Road to Raja Bazaar and Saddar to G.T. Road that sell sugarcane juice – most people pick up the drink during a visit to these markets as a refreshment.
“I like sugarcane juice because it is healthy and refreshing during the summer. I always prefer it to a soft drink while I’m visiting the markets,” Mohammad Suleman said during a trip to Commercial Market.
“My grandmother made rasawali kheer using sugarcane juice. Instead of milk, rice is prepared using fresh sugarcane juice. It’s different from regular kheer, and tastier,” he said.
Mohammad Sagheer said he likes to add lemon and ginger to his sugarcane juice, adding: “It makes it easier to digest.”
He called sugarcane the “national drink” of the country. “There are many shops in the city which sell hygienically produced juice.”
Noor Khan, a store owner, told Dawn: “It’s the most popular drink in the area. We have been doing this business for 70 years – we sell fresh sugarcane juice in the winter and the summer, but most people visit the shop in the summer to beat the heat.”
He said fresh sugarcane juice is also cheaper than most fresh fruit juices.
He added that no preservatives are used in sugarcane juice, and it cannot be refrigerated for even a couple of days.
He said most customers prefer a dash of lemon juice and ginger to make the juice easier to digest.
He said the crushed sugarcane is not thrown away, but instead sold to factories that make paper and chipboards at various rates per ton.
According to health professionals, sugarcane juice is good for the liver and skin, and is rich with vitamin E.
Dr Tahir Sharif, a physician and nutritionist said: “It’s healthy for the liver and skin and other ailments, but one must beware of hepatitis as cart pushers do not always care for cleanliness. Juice prepared using dirty machines can be dangerous.”
He said the drink is refreshing during the summer and can be used to protect oneself from the heat.
He added that it is easy to digest and a good alternative for energy drinks.
Originally published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2016