Ibrahim Belo Written by Ibrahim Belo

What is sugar?

Sugar is a natural ingredient that has been used as part of our diet for centuries; it is believed that sugar was first used over 5,000 years ago in the Polynesian Islands. Sugars are found in almost everything we eat, in one form or another and to varying levels. So, what exactly is sugar?

Let’s start with the science

The white stuff that we all know as sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a molecule composed of 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen (C12H22O11). Sucrose is found naturally in most plants, but especially in sugarcane and sugar beets, which are the plants that produce the base raw material that Ragus sources to convert into pure sugars and syrups.

Raw Cane03)Raw cane sugar manufactured by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

The chemical make-up of a sucrose molecule.

Like all compounds made from the three elements above, sugar is a carbohydrate. Some sugars are found naturally in foods, like fruit and vegetables, while others are used during processing and cooking.

Sugars are an important source of energy that we all need in order to survive. The most common sugar in the human body is glucose, which your brain, major organs and muscles need in order to function properly. The body breaks down all sugars and starches to glucose and the brain needs around 130g of glucose per day to cover basic energy needs.

What are the most common types of sugar?

Sucrose (often regarded as table sugar) is formed from glucose and fructose. It is extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet and is naturally present in most fruits and vegetables. This is the sugar that we use daily in our homes, whether it is granulated, caster or icing sugar.

Fructose is a simple sugar and is one of two sugar molecules that make up sucrose (the other being glucose). All foods that contain sugar contain fructose. Often it is referred to as fruit sugar because it occurs naturally in many fruits, such as berries, melons, and apples.

Glucose is a type of sugar you get from the foods you eat, and your body uses it for energy. Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, fruit, and cereals are common sources of glucose.

Lactose – or milk sugar as it’s also known as – is the naturally occurring sugar found in animal milks and dairy products.

Maltose is also known as malt sugar and is found in beer and malted drinks.

Inverted sugar is similar to sucrose, but while the glucose and fructose molecules are bound together in sucrose, they are both free in inverted sugar. This causes a significantly sweeter taste than sucrose.

Close up of sugar being spun in a centrifugal machine

Ragus manufactures pure sugars for industry.

Sugar by-products

Golden syrup and treacle are by-products of sugar refining and are a mixture of inverted sugar, sucrose and in the case of treacle, molasses. Golden syrup is a thick, amber coloured product, with a distinctive mellow taste, while treacle is darker syrup and has a more robust flavour. Ragus specialises in manufacturing five types of refinery syrup formulations: golden syrup, black treacle, liquid sugars, molasses, and invert syrups.

Side-by-side image of demerara sugar on left, light cane muscovado sugar in the middle, and dark cane muscovado sugar on the right

Ragus produce a numbers of different pure sugar products.

Soft brown light sugar, dark soft brown sugar, light cane muscovado, dark cane muscovado and demerara are essentially the same as white sugar or sucrose. However, these sugars are either less refined, meaning that the molasses component of the sugar cane extract has not been entirely removed, or they are refined white sugar with molasses added back in. These are all amber, golden, or brown in colour and have caramelised tasting notes.

Ragus’ industry experience

Here at Ragus we are specialists in high quality natural pure sugars and pure syrups, from raw cane sugar to specialist glucose-sugar blends. We source sugar beet from Europe and travel the globe from Africa to the Caribbean to South America and Pacific countries to find the best, most reliable, and sustainably produced, certified sources of pure cane sugar. We build long-term relationships with our suppliers and give advice and assistance to promote the cause of sustainably produced pure sugar.

Ragus has over 90 years’ experience manufacturing sugar and syrups. To find out how we can help you select the best pure sugar product for your needs, contact our customer services team on +44 (0)1753 575353 or enquiries@ragus.co.uk. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, follow Ragus on LinkedIn.