- Sugar or sucrose, is a
carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable in the plant
kingdom. It is the major product of photosynthesis, the process by which
plants transform the sugar energy into food. Sugar occurs in greatest
quantities in sugar cane and sugar beets from which it is separated for
There are many different types of granulated sugar. Some of these
are used only by the food industry and professional bakers and are
not available in the supermarket. The types of granulated sugars
differ in crystal size. Each crystal size provides unique functional
characteristics that make the sugar appropriate for a specific
food’s special need.
Granulated maple sugar (also known as stirred sugar or Indian sugar) is prepared by heating maple syrup until the temperature is 45˚ to
50˚F (25˚ to 28˚C) above the boiling point of water. It is then allowed to cool to about 200˚F (93˚C), and stirred either in the
cooking vessel or in an appropriately sized container until granulation is achieved.
Bakers Special Suga -
The crystal size of Bakers Special is even finer than that of fruit sugar. As its name suggests, it was developed specially for the
baking industry. Bakers Special is used for sugaring doughnuts and crumb texture.
Castor/caster sugar - Spelled both "caster" and "castor." The spelling castor sugar
used to be the prevailing one, but caster sugar seems to be more usual now,
perhaps because it is used by some sugar manufacturers on their packaging.
See superfine sugar. UK castor/caster sugar is very finely granulated
sugar (finer than U.S. granulated sugar) which allows it to dissolve almost
instantly. In the United States, superfine sugar or the new Baker's sugar
may be substituted. It is called "berry sugar" in British Columbia.
Confectioners or powdered sugar
In Canada and Great Britain (England) it is called
icing sugar and in France sucre glace. This sugar is granulated sugar ground to a smooth powder and then
sifted. It contains about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. Powdered
sugar is ground into three different degrees of fineness. The
confectioners sugar available in supermarkets – 10X – is the finest
of the three and is used in icings, confections and whipping cream.
The other two types of powdered sugar are used by industrial bakers.
Coarse sugar -
Also known as pearl or decorating sugar. As its name implies, the crystal size of coarse sugar is larger
than that of “regular” sugar. Coarse sugar is recovered when
molasses-rich, sugar syrups high in sucrose are allowed to
crystallize. The large crystal size of coarse sugar makes it highly
resistant to color change or inversion (natural breakdown to
fructose and glucose) at cooking and baking temperatures. These
characteristics are important in making fondants, confections and
Date sugar - Date sugar is more a food than a sweetener. It is ground up from
dehydrated dates, is high in fiber. Its use is limited by price and the fact
it does not dissolve when added to liquids.
Fruit sugar -
Fruit sugar is slightly finer than “regular” sugar and is used
in dry mixes such as gelatin and pudding desserts, and powdered
drinks. Fruit sugar has a more uniform small crystal size than
“regular” sugar. The uniformity of crystal size prevents separation
or settling of larger crystals to the bottom of the box, an
important quality in dry mixes.
Granulated sugar – Also called table sugar or white sugar. This
is the sugar most known to consumers, is the sugar found in
every home’s sugar bowl, and most commonly used in home food
preparation. It is the most common form of sugar and the type most frequently called for in
recipes. Its main distinguishing characteristics are a paper-white color and
Sugar cubes – They are made from moist granulated sugar that is pressed into molds and
Maple sugar -
Raw sugar –
It is essentially the product at the point before the molasses is
removed (what’s left after sugarcane has been processed and refined).
Popular types of raw sugar include demerara sugar from Guyana and Barbados sugar, a moist, fine textured sugar.
Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been steam cleaned to remove contaminates., leaving a
light molasses flavored, tan colored sugar.
Sanding sugar -
Also known as coarse sugar. A large crystal sugar that is used mainly in the
baking and confectionery industries as a sprinkle on top of baked
goods. The large crystals reflect light and give the product a
Superfine, ultra fine, or bar sugar
This sugar’s crystal size is the finest of all the types of
granulated white sugar. It is ideal for delicately textured cakes
and meringues, as well as for sweetening fruits and iced-drinks
since it dissolves easily. In England, a sugar very similar to
superfine sugar is known as caster or castor sugar, named after the type
of shaker in which it is often packaged.
Brown sugar (light and dark)
Brown sugar retains some of the surface molasses syrup, which
imparts a characteristic pleasurable flavor. Dark brown sugar has a
deeper color and stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar.
Lighter types are generally used in baking and making butterscotch,
condiments and glazes. The rich, full flavor of dark brown sugar
makes it good for gingerbread, mincemeat, baked beans, and other
full flavored foods.
Demerara sugar -
Popular in England, Demerara sugar is a light brown sugar with
large golden crystals, which are slightly sticky from the adhering
molasses. It is often used in tea, coffee, or on top of hot cereals.
Muscovado or Barbados Sugar
Muscovado sugar, a British specialty brown sugar, is very dark brown
and has a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are
slightly coarser and stickier in texture than “regular” brown sugar.
Free-flowing brown sugars -
These sugars are specialty products produced by a
co-crystallization process. The process yields fine, powder-like
brown sugar that is less moist than “regular” brown sugar. Since it
is less moist, it does not clump and is free-flowing like white
Turbinado sugar -
This sugar is raw sugar which has been partially processed, where
only the surface molasses has been washed off. It has a blond color
and mild brown sugar flavor, and is often used in tea and other
Liquid sugars -
There are several types of liquid sugar. Liquid sugar (sucrose) is
white granulated sugar that has been dissolved in water before it is
used. Liquid sugar is ideal for products whose recipes first require
sugar to be dissolved. Amber liquid sugar is darker in color and can
be used in foods where brown color is desired.
Invert sugar - Sucrose can be split into its two component sugars (glucose and
fructose). This process is called inversion, and the product is
called invert sugar. Commercial invert sugar is a liquid product
that contains equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Because
fructose is sweeter than either glucose or sucrose, invert sugar is
sweeter than white sugar. Commercial liquid invert sugars are
prepared as different mixtures of sucrose and invert sugar. For
example total invert sugar is half glucose and half fructose, while
50% invert sugar (half of the sucrose has been inverted) is one-half
sucrose, one-quarter glucose and one-quarter fructose. Invert sugar
is used mainly by food manufacturers to retard the crystallization
of sugar and to retain moisture in the packaged food. Which
particular invert sugar is used is determined by which function –
retarding crystallization or retaining moisture – is required.
Home cooks make invert sugar whenever a recipe calls for a sugar
to be boiled gently in a mixture of water and lemon juice.