Ibrahim Belo Written by Ibrahim Belo

Granular detail: Muscovado sugar

Muscovado sugar is a popular sugar product used the world over. In our latest edition of Granular Detail, we dive into everything there is to know about this molasses-rich sugar.

What is muscovado sugar?

‘Muscovado’ is derived from a mixture of the Portuguese ‘açúcar mascavado’ and the Spanish ‘azúcar mascabado’, meaning unrefined sugar. Despite this European influenced etymology, muscovado sugar is still a cane sugar and therefore does go through a partial refinery process. The method for muscovado sugar does differ from white granulated cane sugar, as the molasses juice in the sugar cane is not removed (as it is with white) giving it a caramel like flavour.

As there is no legal definition for muscovado or international coding standards, various sugar products use the name ‘muscovado’, regardless of the refinery process, leading to confusion on the difference between brown and muscovado sugar. Brown sugar often serves as an adequate replacement in the baking industry, depending on what end product is being produced, but they are subtly different. Unlike muscovado, which retains a high percentage of molasses on the crystal, raw cane brown sugars are spun for longer in the centrifuge leaving a less adhering film of molasses on the crystal.

Some brown sugars are not produced from the raw cane but can be white granulated sugar with the molasses blended to the crystal, meaning brown sugar can be produced from beet or cane sugar. With a fine grain texture, this crystalline is dark brown in colour and has a moist texture making it ideal for the baking industry. Also, due to its high molasses content, muscovado sugar contains high levels of minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium.

 

What products is muscovado sugar used in?

Muscovado sugar’s rich flavour and moisture density mean it is primarily used in the baking industry, such as in chocolate-based preparations like brownies or cookies. The same qualities also mean it is ideally suited to use in fruit cakes and Christmas cakes.

As muscovado has a fine texture, it is also used in chutneys, pickles, toffee and savoury sauces, helping to accentuate the smoky flavours in the latter. To add to its diverse usage, it can also be used in salad dressings, glazes on meats or in ice-cream for a bittersweet caramelised taste. And as it is a crystalline sugar containing high levels of molasses, it enables a one product application replacing the need to use both molasses and white sugar.

How is muscovado sugar produced?

Muscovado comes from sugar cane and goes through part of the refinery process that is used to produce partially refined raw sugar. The process starts with cutting, cleaning and crushing the sugar cane, its sweet natural juice is then heated and purified. Evaporators then boil the raw juice in a vacuum to remove the natural water, creating a very sweet and thick amber juice.

The resulting amber juice is then seeded with sugar crystals which grow to create a super-saturated massecuite syrup. It is during this process that the colour, flavour and aroma of molasses is formed. In order to separate the crystals, the massecuite syrup has to be spun in a centrifugal machine.

The now separated syrup still contains a lot of sugar, so it’s spun four times to extract the maximum amount of raw sugar. The first and second spins produce raw sugar, shipped in bulk for white sugar refining. The third and fourth spins are mixed with a magma of molasses which produces among other products muscovado sugar.

90 years’ experience in the sugar industry means Ragus has a wealth of knowledge on the muscovado sugar you need for your application. Contact us now to order yours.