Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
Crystalline sugars: what’s the difference?
At Ragus, we have a wide range of crystalline sugars. But what is the difference between muscovado, demerara or white refined sugar?
What is a crystalline sugar?
Sucrose (table sugar) is a disaccharide, meaning it is a molecule composed of two monosaccharides, in this case, glucose and fructose. For both sugar beet or sugar cane, sucrose is extracted from a solution in water and then crystallised from a concentrated syrup.
Whether it’s sugar beet or sugar cane, a refinery process is required to produce either raw cane or white refined sugar. Both beet and cane are cut cleaned and crushed, with the natural juice heated and purified. The raw juice is then boiled with evaporators in a vacuum to create a thick and sweet amber juice.
The juice is then seeded with sugar crystals, which grow to create a super-saturated massecuite syrup. During this process, molasses develops. At this stage, the crystals need to be separated from the syrup, so it is placed in a centrifugal machine. Whether the original material is cane or beet and what product is being produced determines the number of spins in the machine to remove the molasses content.
What is the difference between crystalline sugars?
Two factors determine the differences. The most important of these is molasses content. Adjusting this dramatically alters taste, texture and usage, resulting in the different types of crystalline sugars that Ragus use. The other difference is that whereas white refined sugar and brown sugar can be made from either sugar cane or sugar beet, muscovado sugar and raw cane demerara sugar must come from sugar cane.
White refined sugar represents a crystalline sugar with no molasses content. As such, it is called upon when sweetness rather than richness is required for an end product. Its light taste means it is ideal for adding sweetness to biscuits or as a bulking agent in yoghurt and beverages.
Raw cane sugar and demerara get their amber colour from the light amount of molasses present and have coarser crystals than refined white sugar. Both raw cane sugar and demerara are ideal for coffee table sugar or adding a mellow flavour to cereals.
Brown sugar on a wooden spoon
Are muscovado and brown sugar different?
Yes – they are both unique sugars. Natural muscovado sugar is made exclusively from cane sugar and contains a high amount of cane molasses, resulting in a rich, deep flavour. It is also has a fine texture and is quite moist.
Conversely brown sugar contains varying levels of molasses, meaning it is available in a varying range of hues, tastes and textures. Not only that, brown sugar can be made from both sugar cane or sugar beet, with the production process altering depending on what is used. Due to its broad range of flavours, colour and texture, it can be used to add richness to savoury sauces or add colour to cakes and toffee.