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Friday, October 3, 2014

Sugar, sugar

The holidays are right around the corner and they usually involve copious amounts of food and drink. One main ingredient used in both is sugar. The Food Encyclopedia explains that "until the 16th century, when cane sugar from the West Indies became readily available and expensive, the world depended mainly on honey as its sweetener" (Rolland, 622). Sugar, or sucrose, is actually quite complex! We wanted to share some nuggets about sugar with you!
  • Jaggery - This type of sugar, similar to brown sugar, comes from the sap of certain palm trees! It's an "unrefined, dark, flavorful palm sugar...used across the Indian subcontinent and in parts of Southeast Asia" (Rolland, 346). It's usually molded and sold in blocks or loaves.
  • Baker's Sugar (or superfine or ultrafine sugar) - It's not a powder, but "consists of tinier crystals than those in ordinary granulated sugar" (Wolke, 12). This makes it dissolve quickly in cold water. It's often used by bartenders and bakers. Now we know why ordinary table (or "granulated") sugar doesn't quite dissolve well in cold drinks!
  • Powdered sugar is made up of about 3% cornstarch.
  • Beet sugar - "If it doesn't say 'Pure Cane Sugar' on the package, it's probably beet" (Wolke, 16). In
    Sugar Beet
    the 18th century, French chemist, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, found that the sugar extracted from a special white variety of beet was similar to sucrose from sugarcane. It's tougher to produce because "the beets contain many bad-tasting and foul-smelling impurities that must be removed" (Wolke, 16). The sugar beet grows in temperate climates whereas sugarcane grows in tropical climates.
  • Blackstrap, or stroop (Dutch) - Molasses is the leftover syrup from the crystallization of sucrose from the juice of sugarcane. Sugar goes through three phases of crystallization, and blackstrap is the product from the final phase of the process. This type of molasses is more concentrated, and often described as bitter. It's an acquired taste.
According to the American Heart Association, "Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day", and teens and men consume the most added sugar. Check out their website for more facts about sugar and diet.

As for the upcoming holidays, come on by and check out our cookbook collection so you can plan your holiday meals!

Rolland, Jacques, et al. The Food Encyclopedia: Over 8,000 ingredients, tools, techniques and people. Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose Inc., 2006. Print
Wolke, Robert. What Einstein Told His Cook. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2002. Print

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