Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Piece of the Pie - the sugar debate


Another article brought to you by R:
image from http://www.redbrickpaper.co.uk

How do you start your day? A cup of coffee might be many people’s routine. Cream and sugar? Sure, why not, after deciding on milk or half/half, next up is sugar : white or brown? Brown sugar has better aroma and seems more natural.
image from http://fiestafarms.ca
Wait a second. Is brown sugar really less processed?

Let’s see how sugar is made (briefly):

1) Juice the sugar cane

2) Boil the juice
3) Let it crystalize and separate the molasses
4) Repeated
5) De-coloring or purifying  
6) Drying

Most of time, yellow/brown sugar is made by...re-adding molasses syrup to WHITE refine sugar crystal and then turns into brown sugar. It is easier for the sugar refinery to control the colour, and it is more effective for the manufacturing. A molasses will give the sugar the nice caramel-ish flavour and the colour. 

If you are interested in for less processed sugar, you might be looking for:
1) Raw sugar (Plantation Raw Sugar)
2) Demerara-style Sugar (kind of moist and brown)
3) Black sugar/Red sugar (it is sugar still contain a lot of molasses and impurity. In some part of Asia, people used black sugar as dessert flavour or dessert soup base).

From the nutrition point of view, white refine sugar is pure carbohydrate, which simply provide energy nothing else. However, there are about 5-10% of molasses in the brown sugar, so brown sugar has fewer calorie than white sugar by weight. On the other hand, brown sugar contains a trace of minerals such as calcium and potassium due to the presence of molasses. Black sugar has even more minerals (the "impurities") since it is less refined.

image from http://japanizmo.files.wordpress.com

Personally. I love the black/red sugar. It tastes so much better (10 times intensity of brown sugar) with a hint of real sugar cane taste; it is perfect with milk or soya drink.

1) Yellow/Brown sugar is not necessary “less processed”
2) Yellow/Brown sugar = sugar plus molasses to create brown colour and caramel aroma
3) Black sugar/Red sugar is very less refined with more impurity; it has very unique taste and flavour.


Amy t February 15, 2012 at 4:39 PM

so is molasses a by-product in the making of sugar? would you happen to know its shelf-life once it has been opened?

R February 15, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Yap, molasses is actually a by-product of sugar refinery.

The shelf life of opened packaging depends on the seal. If it's a jar that you can tie it properly, it should last couple months (some said half a year). During the storage in the fridge, you should watch out the moisture. Excess moisture might lead to mold growth and crystallization. If it's moldy, just toss it away!

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