Sugar cane and sugar beet plants provide us with much of the sugar lining our shelves. First, canes or beets are crushed and flushed with water to extract a syrup, which is 13 to 15% sucrose. The syrup is heated until some of the water evaporates and the sugar begins to crystallize, then is spun in a centrifuge to separate the crystals from the liquid (molasses). The resulting product is raw sugar which is then shipped to sugar refineries for further processing (or to Foodstuffs for you to use in your coffee, tea or baking!)
Turbinado sugar contains about the same amountof sucrose as white sugar. It has been cleaned and dried, and while this cleaning process removes most of the natural molasses, a portion remains, giving “turbinado sugar” its blond colour and distinctive flavour.
White Granulated Sugar is produced by further refining the raw sugar. After being dissolved and centrifuged, then clarified, the sugar is filtered through charcoal to whiten it and to remove any calcium or magnesium salt. Finally, it is crystallized and dried into granules that are pure sucrose (99.9%).
Fruit/Powdered/Instant/Caster Sugar is made by pulverizing white sugar until it becomes a powder. Anti-caking agents may be added to the product to prevent it from forming lumps. It is nutritionally the came as granulated white sugar.
Icing Sugar is pulverized white granulated to which not more than 5% of starch or other anti-caking ingredient is added.
Golden Yellow Sugar is made from selected refinery syrups that provide its characteristic colour, flavour and aroma. This sugar can be used in making fudge and butter tarts where the lighter colour is preferred.
Dark Brown Sugar is made by adding a small amount of molasses to refined white sugar. Sometimes caramel colouring is added instead. Brown sugar is about 96% sucrose.
Demerara Style Sugar is a brown sugar with coarse crystals, and containing up to 15% of the natural molasses. Demerara style sugar offers an alternative to raw sugar for those wishing a moist, dark coloured sugar. Demerara takes its name from a region in Guyana which is renowned for its sugar plantations.
Molasses is a by-product of the sugar refining process and varies in colour and sweetness. Molasses contains minerals and trace elements such as iron, calcium, zinc, copper and chromium. It is used chiefly for its flavour and colour for baked goods. In addition, molasses can be considered as a leavening agent due to its acidity. It reacts with baking soda to relase gas to raise cookie doughs.
There are several grades of molasses. Barbados (Fancy) is a light molasses which remains after the first extraction of sugar crystals, and it is quite sweet. black strap molasses is the liquid left after the third extraction. It is very dark, bitter tasting, and aromatic.