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Sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable in the plant kingdom. It is the major product of photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform the sugar energy into food. Sugar occurs in greatest quantities in sugar cane and sugar beets from which it is separated for commercial use.There is no difference in the sugar produced from either cane or beet. Sugar cane, a giant grass, thrives in a warm, moist climate, storing sugar in its stalk. The sugar beet grows best in a temperate climate and stores its sugar in its white root. Sugar from both sources is produced by nature in the same fashion as all green plants produce sugar-as a means of storing the sun's energy.
Sugar is prized for its sweet taste and has many other functions in cooking and baking. It contributes texture and color to baked goods. It is needed for the fermentation by yeast, which causes bread to rise. Sugar acts as a bulking agent (ice cream, baked goods) and preservative (jams, fruits), and it imparts a satisfying body or "mouth-feel" to beverages. In non-sweet foods - salad dressings, sauces, condiments sugar enhances flavor and balances acid content in tomato and vinegar-based products
During the refining process, the natural sugar that is stored in the cane stalk or beet root is separated from the rest of the plant material. For sugar cane, this is accomplished by a) grinding the cane to extract the juice,- b) boiling the juice until the syrup thickens and crystallizes- c) spinning the crystals in a centrifuge to produce raw sugar; d) shipping the raw sugar to a refinery where it is; e) washed and filtered to remove the last remaining plant materials and color; and f) crystallized, dried and packaged. Beet sugar processing is normally accomplished in one continuous process without the raw sugar stage. The sugar beets are washed, sliced and soaked in hot water to remove the sugar-containing juice. The juice is purified, filtered, concentrated and dried in a series of steps similar to sugar cane processing.Raw sugar is a tan to brown, coarse granulated solid obtained on evaporation of clarified sugar cane juice. Raw sugar is processed from the cane at a sugar mill and then shipped to a refinery. It is about 98% sucrose. Raw sugar is not sold to consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes raw sugar is "unfit for direct use as food or as a food ingredient because of the impurities it ordinarily contains. Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been refined to a light tan color by washing in a centrifuge under sanitary conditions. Surface molasses is removed in the washing process. In total sugar content turbinado is closer to refined sugar than to raw sugar. It can be purchased in many health food stores and some supermarkets. Brown sugar consists of sugar crystals contained in a molasses syrup with natural flavor and color components. Many sugar refiners produce brown sugar by preparing and boiling a special syrup containing these components until brown sugar crystals form. In the final processing the crystals are spun dry in a centrifuge; some of the syrup remains giving the sugar its characteristic brown color. Other refiners produce brown sugar by blending a special molasses syrup with white sugar crystals. Store brown sugar in a way that allows the product to retain its natural moisture-in its original plastic bag (closed tightly) or in a moisture-proof container. If the sugar hardens, let it stand overnight in a sealed jar with a damp paper towel or apple slice. For a quick fix, heat the needed amount in a 2500 oven for a few minutes, or microwave on low for 1-2 minutes per cup. Use immediately
Dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor. Lighter types are used in baking, butterscotch and glazes for ham. Richer-flavored dark brown sugar is desirable for gingerbread, baked beans, plum pudding and other full-flavored foods.Confectioners (powdered) sugar and granulated sugar are not interchangeable. Confectioners sugar is made up of much finer particles than granulated sugar and it contains corn starch (to prevent caking). Blended sugar (sugaridextrose). In some locales, dextrose, a corn-derived sweetener, is added to granulated cane or beet sugar to create a white granulated blend that may be less expensive than traditional sugar. Dextrose is about 70% as sweet as sugar and is more hygroscopic (water attracting). Because of these characteristics, blends may not perform exactly as sugar in certain recipes. Sugar-cane juice, Nutritive Analysis of 100 g