Types of sugar

Types of sugar

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In cooking, sugar is the crystallized sucrose which comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. But what are the types of sugar that is commonly found on the market? What sets them apart?

What is sugar

As we mentioned a few lines ago, sugar is crystallized sucrose. In turn, chemically, the sucrose it is a disaccharide, just like maltose (which comes from wheat) and lactose (which comes from milk).

Sugar provides sweetness to foods, and also performs a number of interesting functions in baking. For example, not everyone knows that sugar slows the formation of gluten in wheat flour. Which means that baked goods tend to be softer, with a finer texture, the more sugar they contain.

Not only that: because of the way it turns brown (caramelization) when heated, sugar gives color to baked goods.

Sugar also has a property called hygroscopy, which means that it attracts and retains moisture. This helps baked goods stay fresher for longer, since the presence of sugar helps prevent ordinary drying of bread, cakes, and so on.

As if all the characteristics we have just summarized above were not enough, we also emphasize that sugar is also the food for the yeast organisms that make bread rise.

Having clarified the above, although there is no standard labeling system for sugars, aside from the various ways individual manufacturers choose to label their products, we can classify sugars based on their grain size and / or degree of refining to which they have been subjected.

This is an obviously incomplete classification, but which we imagine may be useful to you in order to improve your knowledge of this delicious food!

White granulated sugar

Granulated white sugar is the most common form of sugar and is what most home bakers will use most of the time and for most of their creations.

Made from both beets and sugar cane (the manufacturer's label may or may not specify this origin), it is the sugar that can satisfy any type of need on the part of cooks and food producers!

This type of sugar can in fact represent the basic ingredient for everything from cooking and desserts to the preparation of sauces, from salad dressings to brines and marinades, as well as cocktails and other drinks. Both sugarcane and beetroot versions are 99.95% sucrose.

Read also: Food butterflies, how to prevent their invasion!

Due to its moisturizing properties, granular sugar can form lumps if stored for a long time. Moreover, it should be noted that breaking the sugar into cubes again is very easy, but this does not mean at all that the sugar must perish (indeed). In fact, just like salt, the shelf life of granulated sugar is practically infinite.

In pastry making, it is often useful to work with a finer-grained sugar, because it dissolves more easily and helps produce cakes and biscuits with a much more delicate texture. This is where products such as superfine and ultrafine sugars come into play: sometimes also called by the name of baker's sugars or granulated sugars, in reality these sugars are also crystalline but ... it's just that the crystals are finely ground than granules typical of white sugar.

By the way, allow us a little parenthesis. In fact, note that the more finely ground the sugar, the more of it, by weight, can be placed inside a cup or a teaspoon. This means that you will need to be careful when measuring sugar for your recipes and use a weighted measurement, rather than by volume or cups. Just keep in mind that, regardless of how finely ground a sugar is, 200 grams will be the equivalent of one cup in any recipe.

Brown sugar

Cane sugar is a sugar obtained exclusively from sugar cane. Its darker color refers exclusively to the degree of purification it undergoes. Considering that the purification phase of this sugar stops before bleaching, the result is a more intense color.

It should be borne in mind that within the cane sugar "family", what we can commonly find at the bar is Demerara sugar. However, there are other sub-types of cane sugar and, certainly, the one that most differs from white sugar is the whole one, the Moscovado.

Other types of sugar

There are also other types of sugar that can be purchased and used for your own recipes. And there are also other forms of sugar that are not real types, but simply the result of particular processes.

For example, we speak of icing sugar to indicate a granulated sugar that is reduced to a very fine and light powder, stored in airtight packages (it would absorb a lot of ambient humidity).

We hope that these brief shares on sugar and its types can be useful in improving the knowledge of this food so appreciated and so used for the creation of hundreds of recipes. Our suggestion is obviously to investigate further - if you are interested - the benefits and contraindications of each of the main types of sugar, before choosing the one that could do best for you, based on the typical specificities of the type you intend to use for your home recipes.


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