Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
Sugar for spring: beer, barbeques and ice cream
Spring is here, with warmer days, bank holidays and celebrations aplenty. As we head outdoors, manufacturers are getting ready to sell the beers, barbeque foods and ice creams they’ve been preparing. Read on to explore how different types of sugars give our classic springtime foods and drinks different functional properties.
What sugars are used in spring?
As the clocks go forward, evenings draw out and summer approaches, British people start to eat and drink al fresco. In the UK, spring has two bank holidays, which many of us spend with family and friends at home or in parks and pub gardens. In the lead up to spring at Ragus, customer demand sees us manufacturing different types of sugars that go into our nation’s springtime favourites, which have functional properties for taste, texture, colour, flavour, mouthfeel, and shelf life.
Because many of our customers are bulk manufacturers that start their own processes in good time before the start of spring, they rely on us to ensure they can supply their customers with the products they demand during this time of year.
Beer and brewing
Beer is a staple of many springtime celebrations and can be brewed anything from seven days for cask ales to many months for cans and bottles in advance. Sugar plays two essential roles in the brewing process: flavour and colour, and fermentation. Brewers often use treacles and molasses to give taste and a golden-brown hue to mild and porter ales. To ferment these beers, invert sugar syrup or glucose syrup provides the necessary nutrients for the yeast to create alcohol.
For IPAs, best bitter, specials and lager, brewers use a special type of sugar for both fermentation and flavour. There are two types, known here at Ragus as type 1 and 2. Type 2 gives a darker, richer colour than type 1.
Sugar is also crucial for cider making. Cider makers celebrate the frosts of early spring because they kill off the moulds that lower the natural sugar content of their apples. A warm summer will raise it again, but the lower the fruit sugar, the more sugar cider manufacturers need to add for fermenting and priming.
Sugar-rich barbeque sauces, rubs, glazes and marinades add succulent moisture and rich flavours to chicken, beef and pork. But barbeques aren’t just for meat lovers: sugars—which are naturally vegan—are also used to add flavour and texture to the vegetarian and vegan plant-based meat substitutes lining up on today’s barbeques.
Molasses and treacle are popular ingredients in barbeque sauces, providing deep, dark, colour, intense, smoky flavour, and decadent stickiness. Dark soft brown sugar is also a popular ingredient for sauces because its naturally high molasses content bestows a similar rich brown colour and aromatic flavour.
Ice cream and ice cream sauces
Last year UK ice cream fans got through 147 million kilograms of the cold sweet treat. Pure sugars play a crucial role in creating ice cream’s smooth texture and irresistible flavour.
Full invert sugar syrup’s gift of ‘scoopability’ makes it the most popular pure sugar for ice cream. It depresses its freezing point, preventing large ice crystals from forming and enabling the smooth texture and mouthfeel we all know and love, while also making it easier to shape and scoop.
With a sweetness value approximately 40% higher than straight sucrose, full invert sugar syrup is also the ideal sweetener for ice cream. Less naturally sweet flavours like pistachio or coffee benefit even more from the sweetness hit.
Inverts and golden syrup (a type of invert) are often used as a topping or ingredient in ice cream sauces. Ice cream cones and waffles use sugar too, with brown sugars giving some higher-end ice cream cones colour and flavour, in addition to providing structure.
The thick, sticky texture of the caramel, chocolate and fruit sauces that we drizzle on ice cream owe their high sweetness value and smooth mouth feel to either invert sugar syrup or glucose syrup. Their low viscosity means they’re less likely to slide off ice cream cones, and they keep sauces pourable and smooth, just how we all like them.
It’s hard to imagine a spring barbeque, long weekend or lunch in a pub garden without sugar. From beer brewing to barbeques and everything in between, their sweetness and functional properties are fundamental to spring’s most delicious treats. As the sun creeps out from behind the clouds, let’s enjoy our springtime favourites and the sugars that make them possible.
Ragus manufactures high-quality pure sugars for food and beverage applications through all the seasons. Our sugars don’t just enhance the taste of foods and beverages: they provide the colour, texture and other foundational properties that make our favourite food and beverage products what they are.