Sugar as a shelf life extender

May 02 2019

There’s more to sugar than taste. Here we discuss how its unique water retention properties mean our food stays fresher for longer.   

Why do we need sugar in our food?

 

Although its primarily used for flavour and sweetness, sugar’s functional properties mean it is an essential component in modern food production. Sugar is what’s known as a hygroscopic, meaning it binds water molecules very easily. In jams and preserves, this starves harmful bacteria of the water they need to grow, and in cakes and biscuits acts as a humectant, retaining moisture and preventing products from going stale.

What the current global trend for reducing the amount of sugar in foodstuffs fails to recognise is that these properties are unique to sugar and cannot easily be replicated by an alternative. Some manufacturers turn to artificial preservatives to try to replicate the same results. Potentially this is more detrimental to the consumer’s health than a naturally occurring product like sugar.

Producing products that sport a sugar free label pleases consumers and regulatory bodies, however, it oversimplifies the complex role sugar plays as a functional ingredient in food and beverages. Nearly all sugar free products do not retain the same taste, and the processes undertaken to ensure the preservative and humectant qualities are still present can lead to a less healthy product. Let’s now look at how sugar is used as a humectant in the food and beverage industries.

Why is sugar used as a preservative?

 

Sugar is used as a preservative in foods and beverages because it prevents microbial growth by reducing the water activity in a product, primarily through osmosis, or dehydration. Whether in solid or liquid form, sugar will always try to reach the same level of sugar present in the foodstuff it is in contact with. In order to achieve this, the water cells in the food product are replaced by sugar cells. Deprived of this water, bacteria find it extremely difficult to multiply and then spoil products.

In conjunction with this, sugar also disrupts the enzyme activities of microbes and weakens the molecular structure of their DNA. As a result, their ability to develop and inflict damage is limited, meaning products remain fresher for longer. Due to this, those foods and beverages that possess a high sugar concentration can be stored without refrigeration, conserving energy and negating the need for artificial sugar alternatives.

There are, however, some products, such as concentrated fruit juices, that can be spoiled by certain sugar-loving strands of yeast. These resist many traditional preservation methods and present considerable challenges to the food industry when looking to guarantee the maximum shelf life of products. Despite this, using sugar as a preservative represents an ancient and longstanding method to prevent microbial growth and stop foods spoiling.

 

Sugar is a crucial component to ensuring the foods and drinks we consume daily have the maximum possible shelf life.

How does sugar keep food moist?

 

Alongside hampering the growth of bacteria, the fact that sugar is a humectant means it is also used to retain moisture in food, such as in low fat baked goods like cakes, biscuits and bread rolls. The presence of sugar as an ingredient ensures water cannot escape quickly, preventing them from going stale and extending their shelf life. Due to their high affinity for water, invert syrups are typically used for this application.

Inverts can also take the place of glycerol as the humectant in cakes. This brings with it several added benefits, including improved colour, sweetness and more developed flavours throughout the baking process. As we have seen previously, replicating these and the above properties with a sugar substitute can prove to be highly challenging and not always possible.

More than taste: the functional role of sugar

 

Sugar is present in food and drinks for much more than taste and flavour. It plays a vital role in ensuring products remain at their optimum freshness for as long as possible by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and retaining moisture. This is owing to its unique and powerful humectant qualities.

Such is the nature of the role that sugar plays, removing it entirely or swapping it for an alternative often throws up more issues than it solves. Artificial preservatives are typically chosen to fill the sugar void, which can potentially cause more harm than good. Sugar’s functional role in extending the shelf lives of the food and beverages we consume daily is important and should not be overlooked.

To ensure your products have their maximum shelf life, visit our product finder to find your ideal sugar.

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Specialist sugars and their applications

Apr 11 2019

In the UK, sugar usually means the white granules derived from sugar beet. But there is a wide range of specialist sugars used in the products we consume every day.

 

Sugar is sourced from natural sugar cane and beet. In both cases the raw material goes through a refining process involving cutting, cleaning, juice extraction, centrifugal spinning and boiling, with sugar cane then going on to be passed through the centrifuge multiple times. This is to remove any impurities and to extract the sugar ready for processing.

The process for refining both beet and Cane can be adjusted in various ways, such as changing temperature levels or the number of passes through the centrifuge. These changes lead to the different types of sugar crystals, which in turn can be used to produce golden syrups, invert sugars and custom formulations.

We offer a range of sugar variations and can create custom formulations for use in a wide variety of applications. We manufacture sugar to fit your product requirements, such as making soft drinks, liquorice or cereal.

 

What is treacle and molasses used for?

 

Molasses is collected during the Cane refining process. It has a dark colour, with a very strong flavour profile and, as it has a thick viscosity, is perfect for savoury sauces and liquorice.

Molasses can be blended with invert syrups to form treacle, which is made up of different percentages of molasses and invert sugar syrup. Treacle gives a softer, rounder flavour compared to the almost bittersweet molasses. With a colour range of black through to a dark brown, treacle is often used in cooking sauces and rich fruit cakes and can also be used as a natural food colourant.

 

What is the difference between golden syrup and inverts?

 

Both golden syrup and invert sugars contain fructose-glucose, but that is where the similarities end. Golden syrup also contains sucrose, giving it a very sweet and light flavour and a golden colour.

Inverts are flavourless and colourless and are often used in the baking industry, usually to extend the shelf life of bread. Golden syrup, however, is used in products such as flapjacks as it binds the product together and enhances flavour.

When looking for a sugar with a high viscosity to stabilise a product, such as the chewiness of a soft mint, glucose syrup is a practical option. Unlike invert and golden, it is produced by breaking down maize or wheat and, although it is less sweet than invert, can be used as a sweet bulking agent.

 

 

What is blended and sieved sugar?

 

Blended sugar is granulated in form and is white sugar premixed with molasses and burnt sugar in order to give it a golden-brown colour. This method provides a consistent colour often needed for products such as biscuits and cereals.

Sieved sugars are very popular in the baking industry, as it provides you with different particle sizes from coarse to very fine powder. Think of the contrast between particle size of golden caster sugar, which is more like a powder, and Demerara sugar.

 

Something more specialised – custom formulations

 

Blended sugar is granulated in form and is made up of white sugar premixed with molasses to give a light to dark brown colour. This method provides a consistent colour in the industrial production of biscuits and cereals.

Due to their ability to provide sizes ranging from coarse to very fine powder, sieved sugars are very popular in the baking industry. We sieve, metal detect and bag the sugar in our UK factory to ensure premium quality.

For more information on our range visit our product finder, or if your application requires a custom formulation, contact us for a consultation.

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Ragus Pure Sugars’ Kay Sandhu earns Chairman’s Award at the Nestlé Supplier Awards 2019

Mar 21 2019

Ragus Pure Sugars also named as a top 10 UK supplier. Kay’s Individual Award for Above and Beyond recognises our ‘never say no’ approach to meeting client demands.

 

Double recognition for Ragus Pure Sugars

 

Our top 10 ranking by Nestlé comes after achieving perfection on over 97% of deliveries. We are all delighted to receive such praise from a company of Nestlé’s stature and believe our ‘never say no’ approach to customer supply requests means we will only continue to the climb the rankings.

Such an honour is not possible without a team effort, but we must also congratulate Kay Sandhu, our sales office manager, on her superb achievement. Receiving a Chairman’s Individual Award for Above and Beyond service from the largest food company in the world is no mean feat. It is the perfect recognition of Kay’s tireless efforts in creating such high levels of customer satisfaction and ensuring every delivery strives for perfection.

“For our team’s work to be singled out by such a major global company is a real honour,” says Kay. “Everyone in the sales department is delighted to receive such praise for our work with Nestlé. Now let’s get to 100% perfection and make the top five supplier list!”

As well as Ragus being named a top 10 UK supplier, our sales office manager Kay Sandhu, pictured above, received a Chairman’s individual Award for Above and Beyond.

What are the Nestlé Supplier Awards?

 

The Nestlé Supplier Awards are an annual event in which Nestlé recognise the individuals who deliver for them every day. We as suppliers play an important role ensuring Nestle can deliver for its customers, with the ceremony and awards recognising every aspect of the supply chain that makes this possible. Nestlé ranks its list of UK suppliers based on their ability to match a specific set of standards across all deliveries for the year, with a panel of judges then awarding both individuals and companies awards to reflect this.

How are suppliers ranked by Nestlé?

 

Nestlé measures each delivery its suppliers make against a vendor evaluation scorecard (VES). The VES sets out an exacting set of strict criteria that every delivery must meet, with these being centred on key factors such as time and quantity. Percentage scores are then given for each delivery based on the number of constituent items that complied with the VES. This means that if a delivery contains two items and one of them fails to meet just a single VES criteria, the entire shipment earns just 50%!

“Being assessed in such a tough way makes the award win even sweeter,” concludes Kay. “It’s great to see our focus on quality, consistency and responsiveness to our customers’ needs come to fruition in this way, and we hope it leads to even greater success at next year’s awards.”

Give us a chance to win your top supplier award for your pure sugars category – take a look at our product finder and then contact us.

Feature image ©2019Nestlé

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Can syrups take the place of sugar in bakery?

Jul 02 2018

Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

With the government targeting refined sugar as part of its drive to cut obesity, bakers can use syrups to create sweetness in baked goods, but what complications do they bring?

In the ongoing clamour to cut sugar from the nation’s diets – given fresh impetus by last month’s Public Health England findings  – baked goods need special consideration as sugar does a lot more than sweeten – it adds texture, crumb and colour, and helps keep them moist.

But when it comes to reducing the sugar content of baked goods, syrups offer potential as they are sweeter and have other benefits. “Depending on the exact type of syrup used, they are around 40% sweeter than sucrose (granulated sugar) so less syrup is needed in a formulation,” says Ben Eastick, director at sugar and syrups supplier Ragus.

“Syrups also perform the role of a binding agent, moisture attractant and flavour enhancer, as well as aiding and controlling colour development in baking.”

Ben Eastick, Director at Ragus

Treacles, for example, can add a robust flavour, are a natural food colourant and are high in minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), he explains, while cane treacle is a natural food supplement with over 5% of vitamin B6 daily requirements. And although syrups can cost around 20% more than sucrose, Eastick says this should be countered against their advantages. “Syrups are ready to mix, so reduce pre-mixing time, energy and labour costs,” he explains, “And depending on volume and application, they can also reduce raw material volume held in stock and costs.”

Read more at: https://bakeryinfo.co.uk/

Brtish_Baker

 

 

 

 

 

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Select Ragus Sugars, Syrups and Treacles online

Nov 30 2017

Helping you find your ideal sugar ingredients

With our new Product Finder you can filter through over 50 different pure sugars
to find the right crystalline sugars, syrups and treacles for your industry.
This easy to use online facility provides useful guidance and information on the
extensive Ragus manufactured range of functional sugar products and how they contribute
to the appearance, taste, and texture of foods, drinks and pharmaceuticals.
 
Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries
Useful and informative information on over 50 products.
 
 
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Sugar products for a wide variety of industries and applications.
 
 


Eastick’s Golden Syrup. Ragus Product Finder includes video presentations of all Crystalline, Syrup and Treacle products.
 
 
Ragus has a team of sugar consultants working from its lab in the UK. The team provides advice on food production, quality controls and food hygiene to its suppliers. Ragus' close relationship with its suppliers ensures that its customers can be confident that the raw sugar it sources has been grown, harvested, and shipped to its factory to the highest standards of food management.
 
Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugar manufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the baking, brewing, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries
Our unique online Product Finder tool supported by the Ragus Customer Service Team – available to follow up to advise, discuss and supply your specific requirements.
 
 
 
www.ragus.co.uk/product-finder
 
Ragus_ProductFinder_248x76
 
 
 
 
 

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About Ragus – launch of new video

Oct 05 2017

A concise introduction into Ragus Pure Sugars

Our new corporate video has just been launched.
Designed to communicate quickly and easily Ragus Pure Sugars, our brand, our ethos and our direction going forward.

Produced to enhance the perception and understanding of our business in the
sugar marketplace and to our customers, the video will be distributed through
a range of on and offline channels – website, emails, social media, youtube, vimeo plus
all live business presentations.

We hope you enjoy watching this short film, as much as we did making it.

Watch the video here.

Ragus’ Pure Syrups range from familiar ingredients like Golden Syrup, to highly specialised products for industrial use, all manufactured at its advanced manufacturing site in the UK

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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