I never really thought about the number of different ways to sweeten your food. In the last few weeks I have reviewed Maple Syrup, Honey, Corn Syrup and Agave Nectar. This week I will take a look at the sugars. It’s amazing the various sugars that are created from sugar cane and sugar beets; White Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Brown Sugar, Sucanat®, Turbinado and Raw Cane Sugar. What is the difference between these products?
Granulated White Sugar – This is the sugar most known to consumers, it is the sugar found in every home’s sugar bowl, and most commonly used in home food preparation. It is the most common form of sugar and the type most frequently called for in recipes. Its main distinguishing characteristics are a paper-white color and fine crystals.
Powdered Sugar – In Canada and Great Britain it is called Icing Sugar and in France Sucre Glace. This sugar is granulated sugar ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. It contains about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. Powdered sugar is ground into three different degrees of fineness. The confectioners sugar available in supermarkets – 10X – is the finest of the three and is used in icings, confections and whipping cream. Industrial bakers use the other two types of powdered sugar.
Brown sugar is simply white sugar combined with molasses. Brown sugar retains some of the surface molasses syrup, which imparts a characteristic pleasurable flavor. Dark brown sugar has a deeper color and stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Lighter types are generally used in baking and making butterscotch, condiments and glazes. The rich, full flavor of dark brown sugar makes it good for gingerbread, mincemeat, baked beans, and other full flavored foods.
Sucanat® (which stands for Sugar Cane Natural), is a whole cane sugar. It’s made by simply crushing freshly cut sugar cane, extracting the juice and heating it in a large vat. Once the juice is reduced to a rich, dark syrup, it is hand-paddled. Hand paddling cools and dries the syrup; creating the dry porous granules we call Sucanat. Nothing is added and nothing is taken out! Because Sucanat still contains all of the cane’s natural molasses, it has a deep brown color and a distinct, natural molasses flavor that enhances many foods. It can be substituted for brown sugar in any recipe and it is especially good in chocolate-based recipes, for baking and for BBQ sauces and marinades. It is an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium, which helps balance blood sugar.
Raw Cane Sugar – It is essentially the product at the point before the molasses is removed (what’s left after sugarcane has been processed and refined).
Turbinado – is raw sugar that has been steam cleaned to remove contaminates, leaving a light molasses flavored, tan colored sugar. This sugar is raw sugar, which has been partially processed, where only the surface molasses has been washed off. It has a blond color and mild brown sugar flavor, and is often used in tea and other beverages.
Making the choice of what sweetener to use in your kitchen can be a little overwhelming. Hopefully this review of the various sweeteners can help you make good decisions. Do you have a favorite sweetener you use?