Online Encyclopedia

SAGO

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 1003 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SAGO, a food-starch prepared from a deposit in the trunk of several palms, the principal source being the sago palm (Metroxylon Sagu) (see fig.), a native of the East Indian Archipelago, the sago forests being especially extensive in the island of Ceram. The trees flourish only in low marshy situations, seldom attaining a height of 30 ft., with a thick-set trunk. They attain maturity as starch-yielding plants at the age of about fifteen years, when the stem is gorged with an enormous mass of spongy medullary matter, around which is an outer rind consisting of a hard dense woody wall about 2 in. thick. When the fruit is allowed to form and ripen, the whole of this starchy core disappears, leaving the stem a mere hollow shell; and the tree immediately after ripening its fruit dies. When ripe the palms are cut down, the stems divided into sections and split up, and the starchy pith extracted and grated to a powder. The powder is then kneaded with water over a strainer, through which the starch passes, leaving the woody fibre behind. The starch settles in the bottom of a trough, in which it is floated, and after one or two washings is fit for use by the natives for their cakes and soups. That intended for exportation is mixed into a paste with water and rubbed through sieves into small grains, from the size of a coriander seed and larger, whence it is known according to size as pearl sago, bulletsago, &c. A large proportion of the sago imported into Europe comes from Borneo, and the increasing demand has led to a large extension of sago-palm planting along the marshy river-banks of Sarawak. Sago is also obtained from Metroxylon Rumphii as well as from various other East Indian palms such as the Gomuti palm (Arenga saccharifera), the Kittul palm (Caryota wrens), the Sago Palm (Metroxylon Sagu), much reduced. 1, Portion of leaf. 4, Spike of male flowers. 2, Portion of female inflo- rescence in fruiting stage. 5, Same cut lengthwise. 6, Fruit. 3, Branch of male inflorescence. 7, Section of fruit and seed, s; e, embryo. cabbage palm (Corypha umbraculifera), besides CoryphaGebagan, Raphia flabelliformis and Phoenix farinifera, also from Mauritia flexuosa and Guilielma speciosa, two South American species. It is also obtained from the pith of species of Cycas.
End of Article: SAGO
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