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Our top 12 applications for 2023 showcasing sugar’s importance and versatility

28/12/2023 By Theresa Pereira in Applications

Sugar performs many functions in food and beverage products. As such, it’s become something of a tradition to do a round-up article at the end of the year, highlighting our top sugar applications in food and beverage products picked from Ragus’ back catalogue of blogs. As before, we’ve chosen one sugar application for each month of the year. 

In praise of invert sugar’s ability to retain moisture

Invert sugar is a liquid, sweet substance which is either fully or partially inverted sucrose. It brings sweetness and is a humectant, improving moisture retention, thereby prolonging shelf life in baked goods such as cookies and cakes. As sugar lowers the freezing point of water, invert sugar and its smooth texture is perfect for sweetening ice cream, sorbet and frozen cocktails. Our blog on invert sugar in granular detail delves deeper into invert sugar.

Eastick’s golden syrup logo on white machinery in factory

Left: Golden syrup, a partial invert sugar syrup, is prepared for customer delivery in a bulk road tanker.
Right: Chemical sensors in and around our mouth help us to determine taste.

The sweetness spectrum

Sugar takes many forms and different sugars perform different functions within food and beverages. But why are some sugars sweeter than others?  It’s partly to do with our taste sensors and partly to do with how sugar interacts with water molecules. Our blog on the chemistry of taste and what makes some sugars sweeter than others breaks this down in greater detail. 

Quality and provenance are key

Technically, this blog isn’t about a sugar application, but it is about an important topic. For food producers globally, it’s important to both claim and prove quality compliance. In this, being able to demonstrate that you hold industry standard, independent certifications and accreditations is essential. We know how important sugar accreditations are in proving our adherence to quality and ethical standards and this blog provides our clients and customers with a full list of Ragus’ sugar accreditations.

Man wearing a Ragus cap looking into a microscope Group of friends sitting at a table outdoors making a toast with glasses

Left: Our pure sugars are checked for a range of quality factors pre- and post-production, in our production laboratory, before delivery to our customers.
Right: Pure natural sugars are an essential ingredient for brewers.

It’s all in the brewing

When Spring arrives, the most optimistic of us will be planning barbecues and enjoying more time outdoors eating and drinking. And where would we be at this time without the nation’s favourite drink, beer? Sugar plays three essential roles in the brewing process: flavour and colour development, and, of course, fermentation. Molasses colours darker porters and invert sugar or glucose syrup for fermentation. Our sugar for spring blog highlights the valuable contribution this ingredient brings to the season.

Sugarcane’s many uses and applications

Sugarcane is used for everything from the making of paper to its plant mass being converted into renewable energy. Sucrose is extracted from sugarcane, milled, processed and refined and used to sweeten drinks like tea, to set and preserve jams and conserves, and as a sweetener and means of decorating cakes and desserts. This blog explains the sugarcane manufacturing process, and the work that goes into turning sugarcane into a product we all recognise.

Combine harvester at work in a crop field, aerial view Selection of different curries in large, steel bowls

Left: Pure sugars are plant-based clean label products produced from sugarcane shown here, and sugar beet.
Right: As a functional ingredient, sugar influences and enhances the taste of savoury dishes.

Sugar balances saltiness and spice in savoury dishes

We tend to associate sugar with cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks, but it’s an essential ingredient in many savoury foods. Sugar balances out sour or bitter flavours and is often necessary in spicy or salty foods, or to enhance these flavours. Savoury dishes need sugar in interesting ways. For example, Pad Thai, one of the world’s best-known dishes, relies on dark soft brown sugar to counteract the pungent tamarind and the briny fish sauce. Our sugars in savoury foods blog goes into more detail.

Sugar’s role in changing or enhancing texture

Think sticky popcorn, wobbly jelly and the crunch of a biscuit. Sugar is nothing if not versatile, affecting mouthfeel and texture and making us enjoy eating certain foods all the more. In one of our blogs on sugar’s functional properties, we focus on texture and mouthfeel and why sugar can’t be underestimated as an ingredient.

Ice cream cone wafer Chinese duck pancakes rolled up

Left: Yet another of sugar’s functional properties is adding texture and mouthfeel to food, beverages and medicines.
Right: Sugar plays an important role in Chinese cuisine.

Savoury Chinese foods thrive on sugar

In the UK, consumption of Chinese food is widely popular, perhaps just as popular as the Indian curry. In Chinese cuisine, sugar brings flavour, structure and texture to a range of mainly savoury dishes. Molasses may be found in umami sauce, liquid sugar on rice cakes, and rock sugar in tea. Learn more about sugar’s foundational role in Chinese cuisine.

Sugar’s role in changing or enhancing the colour and appearance of food, beverages and pharma products

Sugar isn’t just a power player in the food and beverage industry; we have sugar to thank for the pleasant taste of medicinal syrups. The caramelisation of sugar and other ingredients during the brewing process is also responsible for the many shades of beer we enjoy. One of the reasons many sweet treats, like caramel sauce, look so appealing is because sugar has acted as a colourant. This blog celebrates how sugar enhances so many things simply by changing its colour and appearance.

Creme brulee dessert being scooped with a spoon Man adding sugar to a cup of coffee while sitting at a table

Left: Sugar enhances appearance as a topping and when caramelised into many different shades.
Right: Demerara could have been designed for coffee, as it’s crystal size dissolves quickly and the subtle, mellow flavour adds contrasting sweetness to coffee’s bitter notes.

The one and only demerara

This crunchy crystalline is used extensively in baking and valued for the flavour and texture it brings to desserts like crème brûlée or crumble. Demerara can be classed as a brown sugar, but it is a cane sugar that is recognisable by its larger crystal size. It’s versatile. This blog on demerara versus brown sugar breaks down what makes demerara unique among sugars and nods to its versatility.

How clean are your labels?

Clean label foods and beverages use minimal ingredients and focus on natural ingredients over artificial ones. Along with showing proof of accreditation, food manufacturers are under increasing pressure from consumers to simplify the ingredients in products and demonstrate their ESG credentials. Our blog explores the clean label food movement and why it is important for sugar and food manufacturers to take note.

Man and a woman in a supermarket looking at the label of a product Tree-shaped stack of biscuits at Christmas time with cinnamon sticks

Left: Do you know what is in the food you eat? Sugar is a natural clean label ingredient.
Right: One of sugar’s many functions is decorating the holiday desserts we enjoy at Christmas.

Where would we be without sugar during the holiday season?

From festive main courses to hot seasonal drinks, this time of year wouldn’t be the same without sugar. At Diwali, gulab jamun dough balls are transformed by the warm sugar syrup that’s poured over them, while the deep colour, rich flavour and moisture-adding light cane muscovado sugar is an essential ingredient in Yule log.
Source: 283.172.5734 Foods of the world holidays article.docx

Our sugars are not only sweeteners enhancing the taste of foods and beverages, but functional ingredients that provide foundational properties to food products, such as colour and texture. To learn more about our pure sugar products, contact our Customer Services Team. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, keep browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn.

Theresa Pereira

Theresa ensures that our customers’ orders are managed efficiently and works closely with our Sales Office Manager to deliver all orders on time in full.

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