Overview of Ben Tre Coconut Candy
Ben Tre Coconut Candy is one of the most popular special foods in the region because it has a unique flavor and long-preserved history.
The origin of Ben Tre Coconut Candy
The craft of making Ben Tre coconut candy is one of the most long-preserved crafts in the province and has existed for more than a hundred years. This was established in the Mo Cay district, now known as Mo Cay Nam district.
The first person to make candy was Mrs. Nguyen Thi Ngoc, born in 1914, living in Quarter 1, Mo Cay District. In 1970, Ms. Nguyen Thi Vinh, living in Ben Tre, turned the production of coconut candies machine-based and established the Thanh Long coconut candy production factory, the first brand of Ben Tre coconut candy.
The remarkable achievement of Ben Tre Coconut Candy
Over time, coconut candy brands constantly improve product quality, diversify designs and packaging to serve domestic people and export abroad. Ben Tre coconut candies exist in most national markets but in many other countries in Asia, Europe, and America.
The battle for the Ben Tre coconut candy brand
Before gaining the patent to protect the brand, the Ben Tre coconut candy brand faced many risks of losing its brand. In 1998, while the sales of the products in the Chinese market went up rapidly, Ms. Nguyen Thi To, the founder of the Ben Tre coconut candy brand, experienced a sudden decline in sales.
After realizing there were fake products, she decided to go to China to sue the Coconut Forest Company – a company that counterfeits Ben Tre products. In August 2008, she realized that Coconut Forest Co., Ltd. had registered an exclusive trademark in China for 8 months.
She presented the incident at the National Trade and Industry Trademark Administration Department of the People’s Republic of China, stating the economic and legal damages caused by counterfeit businesses launched in the Chinese and Vietnamese markets. Finally, the Ben Tre coconut candy brand was granted a patent in May 1999.
How to make Ben Tre Coconut Candy
Prepare the ingredients
At first, Ben Tre coconut candy is made from very simple and local ingredients such as coconut milk, granulated sugar, and malt. In particular, the malt must be made from delicious glutinous rice, the coconut milk must be taken from coconuts that are old enough to have the creamiest texture, and the sugar needs to be yellowish brown.
Although the coconut candies are small and the process of making Ben Tre coconut candy is very simple, it is a traditional craft requiring diligence, patience, and meticulousness in every step.
The first simple steps of making Ben Tre coconut candy
At the very first step, the craftsman has to carefully choose high-quality raw materials to make the best candies.
In the past, Ben Tre coconut candy making was mainly applied using a completely manual method. First, people squeeze out the coconut milk and add some ingredients such as durian, pandan leaves, chocolate, etc. Then add the malt into the mixture.
The most difficult step – stirring the mixture
People used to stir continuously by hand over the fire to create the candy slug. If they didn’t, the coconut milk would become thick and the candy would be tough. But now, machines are responsible for stirring the mixture so people only need to adjust the fire.
After the mixture concentrates and changes color, they pour it into a non-stick mold. People will use a machine to cut it into many parts following the premeasured size. People can also mix or add final ingredients to make the candy have many different flavors, such as crushed peanuts, green coconut candy with pandan leaves, and then mixed with durian candy.
The special package of Ben Tre Coconut Candy
The last step is to package the products. People will use a thin layer of rice paper, which is edible, to wrap the candy. This helps prevent the effect of moisture on the products.
Finally, they wrap the candies in paper and put them in the box to complete the process. Currently, many factories use automatic wrapping machines to do this task, but some still wrap by hand.
6. Different kinds of Ben Tre Coconut Candy
There are many kinds of coconut candies in Ben Tre. Each has different flavors to suit the taste of visitors from many places. Here are some of the most popular types.
Peanut coconut candy
Peanut coconut candy is the classical one with peanuts, which increases the rich and chewy flavor.
Durian peanut coconut candies
The combination of durians and coconut milk brings a greasy and delicious taste. In addition, the flavor of durians isn’t too tense, so it is easy to eat.
Cocoa coconut candies
When mixed with coconut milk, the cocoa creates a unique flavor with a smell and slight bitterness. It is suitable for customers who like candy that is not too sweet.
Coconut candy with pandan leaves
This candy has the faint flavor of pandan leaves, striped coconut candy, and green and white coconut candy with pandan leaf flavor that looks very attractive. This is the type of candy that many domestic and foreign tourists seek to buy.
7. Famous coconut candy factories in Ben Tre
Ben Tre is now developing the Coconut River Ecology tourism program to attract domestic and international tourists. Many overseas tourists would like to experience the traditional crafts here, particularly the Ben Tre coconut candy craft village.
Recently, the homeland of coconuts has more than 180 candy production factories, producing ten thousand tons per year. These factories are mostly in Mo Cay Nam, Mo Cay Bac, Chau Thanh districts, or coconut candy production establishments in Ward 7, Ben Tre City. Many allow visitors to visit, learn, and practice the candy-making process.
8. What to do at the coconut candy factories in Ben Tre
Coming here, the visitors have a chance to learn how people make Ben Tre coconut candies, and then make their coconut candies. Besides, they can understand more about the lifestyle and culture of locals who live on this craft.