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When to use soft brown sugar in recipes
Soft brown sugar is a cornerstone of the baking industry. Light and dark varieties of this sugar offer unique benefits and impart different characteristics to recipes that use them. Today we’ll be looking at both light and dark soft brown sugar, learning more about what makes each so important to food & beverage production.
What is soft brown sugar and how is it made?
Did you know that we can take products like white granulated sugar and change them into other types? Brown sugar is a great example, with its distinct aroma and flavour combining with unique baking properties to make an integral ingredient in many food and beverage recipes worldwide.
The process of producing brown sugar can vary. At Ragus, we begin by sourcing the best possible quality refined white sugar from our industrial partners and suppliers. From there, we begin the creation of brown sugar by blending the white sugar with a mixture of treacle and refiner’s syrup. To create soft brown sugar, refined sugar is delivered to the Ragus production facility. It is then blended with refiner’s syrup and a treacle blend, imparting the distinctive colour and flavour of the product. For dark brown sugar, molasses syrup and a treacle blend are blended or mixed with refined sugar.
Brown sugars are unique among sugars in having a higher degree of what is known in the industry as a humectant property. This refers to their ability to bind with water and moisture, helping to avoid products drying out and aiding in preservation.
Light and dark: Types of soft brown sugar
Ragus manufactures two types of brown sugar, soft brown light sugar and dark soft brown sugar, each with unique characteristics that lend themselves to different food and beverage applications. The stronger flavour profile of soft brown sugar makes it ideal for use in cakes, biscuits and sauces that feature heavier flavour profiles where its higher molasses content can contribute to a richer, fuller taste. That same higher molasses content also adds a much-needed addition of moisture to those recipes.
As the production of soft brown light sugar results in a product with a finer texture and more mellow taste, its use is perfectly suited to more delicate cakes and confectionary that seek a softer texture and flavour, such as coconut, chocolate and carrot cakes. The same principle extends to sauces, with the sucrose content of soft brown light sugar lending itself to the improvement of sauces that include toffee, caramel, and butterscotch.
These two sugars have near identical production processes but have different ingredients leading to distinct flavour profiles and properties that have a significant impact on a final product that incorporates them. Our brown sugars also have a slightly different crystal size than refined granulated sugar – a characteristic that goes hand-in-hand with an increased level of moisture to provide sugars with a seemingly fluffy texture.
These defining features of brown sugar work well to highlight the flavour of spices and lend themselves to numerous brown sugar recipes including cakes such as Brunsviger cake, the glazing of meats such as ham, and popular drinks like coffee.
Please note that the exact nutritional value of light and dark soft brown sugar will vary between manufacturers.
Because of the molasses content in soft dark brown sugar, it contains minerals including calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Both dark and light soft brown sugar are high in calories, providing carbohydrates that the body can use as energy. They have no cholesterol or fat and can be healthily consumed as a flavour enhancing ingredient as part of a controlled diet.
Packaging and storage
It’s important for any sugar packaging, whether for sale or when already opened, to have a tight seal. The moisture levels in sugar are delicate, with exposure to the air leaving your soft brown sugar vulnerable to hardening or taking on moisture from the local environment. This can limit its consistency and efficacy for use in drinks, foods, and baking.
To store sugar that you’ve already opened and used, we recommend a simple sealable container. It’s best to keep your sugar in a cool place away from the sun, which will help it to maintain a consistent temperature that leaves it ready and usable when you need it next.
Ragus soft brown sugars are ideally stored in 10 – 20⁰C areas, with dry conditions and away from direct sunlight. Our soft brown light sugar is stored in 25kg paper sacks which may be stacked into 1000kg palettes, or flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs) for distribution. Our dark soft brown sugar is similarly packaged and shares the same ideal storage conditions, albeit in an ideal temperature range of 15 – 20⁰C.
If your soft brown sugar has become dried out and clumpy in storage, rehydrating the sugar back to a usable condition is entirely possible. One method, on a domestic scale, is to simply place the sugar in a bowl that you cover with a damp paper towel before microwaving in ten-second intervals. You’ll know the sugar has rehydrated when its distinct crumbly texture returns.
With a primary responsibility for manufactured product quality control, Ibrahim works within our supplier chain, factory and production laboratory. He has a focus on continuous improvement, implementing and maintaining our technical and quality monitoring processes, ensuring standards and product specifications are met.