Brown Sugar

Brown sugar contains molasses, which explains its particular color and taste. The molasses is usually a natural remnant, when sugar is refined only partially or not refined at all. Molasses can also be added later, in order to turn regular refined white sugar into brown sugar. A lot of the brown sugar used in commercial products is made through this method. Brown sugar is softer and moister when compared to white sugar, with a rich taste and an attractive color.

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When sugar cane juice initially crystallizes, the result is raw sugar. It can be consumed as brown sugar, without refining, or after minimal processing. No extra ingredients are needed, since the sugar cane molasses provides color and flavour. The distinctive molasses taste is retained by brown sugar, which is more fragrant that other varieties and is richer in minerals. Sugar cane has a different taste depending on where it is cultivated, so raw sugar can have unique aromas.

The supermarket brands of brown sugar are usually prepared by adding molasses to normal refined white sugar. The molasses content varies between 3.5% and 6.5% and determines the color of sugar, which can be lighter or darker. All varieties can be used in any recipes, even if some people prefer a specific type.

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After it spends some time on a shelf or in storage, brown sugar dries out and will quickly form clumps after the package is opened. Using an airtight container can prevent this annoying tendency. It is also possible to revert it back to the normal form, even if the clumps have become hard as rocks. One trick used by experienced cooks is to place the clumps in a sealed container for a few days, along with an apple wedge. Other methods are also available, such as melting the sugar in the microwave before use, or using a terracotta disk that can be bought in kitchen stores to liquefy it. Some cooks avoid clumps completely by purchasing liquid or granulated brown sugar, instead of the normal type.

Production

The cheapest way to produce black sugar is to add molasses made from sugarcane to refined white sugar. This method greatly reduces the final cost and has the added benefit that it is very easy to control the ratio of molasses. However, the quality is not the same and brown sugar produced in this way has a rough texture compared to the unrefined one. In addition, water quickly dissolves the layer of molasses and the white sugar crystals become visible. The real unrefined brown sugar retains its color even when washed, since it includes molasses everywhere in its structure.

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Sugar cane molasses is usually considered to be the best quality one, since it has a better flavour. Molasses can also be prepared from beet sugar and it is used in some areas, especially in Belgium, the Netherlands and other European countries. By contrast, refined white sugar is the same, regardless if it is produced from sugar cane or beet. It has exactly the same color, taste and nutritional composition, since the other traits are completely lost during the refining process. When white sugar is turned into brown one, the added molasses covers the original taste and smell of the white crystals.

Brown sugar varieties

Brown sugar is classified based on its shade of brown, which is determined by the content of molasses. The variety also depends on the production method, since molasses can be naturally present in the sugar or added lately to white crystals.

The most common type, which is widely used in bakeries for a variety of products, is light brown sugar. In general, light brown sugar will be used in any recipe that doesn’t explicitly specify that another type is required. The content of molasses is around 3.5 percent of the total weight.

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Dark brown sugar has a much stronger color and a richer taste. The darker color is given by the much higher content of molasses in its composition, of up to 6.5 percent.

Sugar in the raw is the natural form of brown sugar. It contains molasses as a residue, due to a refining process that was not completed. Compared to the black sugar varieties found in stores, it has a dryer texture. Its sugar crystals also tend to be larger than normal.

Liquid brown sugar is a former variety that can no longer be found in stores but it is mentioned by many older recipes. It was produced for a long time by Domino Sugar, one of the most important sugar suppliers in the United States. If you want to follow the original recipe, it is possible to prepare a substitute at home. Mix one part of water with three parts of light brown sugar and make it dissolve quicker by heating the mix a bit.

The sugar with the richest taste and the darkest color is known as muscovado. It retains the highest content of molasses because it is produced by a very slow process of natural drying.

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Demerara is one of the oldest varieties made through the sugar production process. Cane juice is extracted from the sugar cane plant, and then boiled. The result is light brown crystals of raw sugar. Using a centrifuge, they can be dried and used, retaining some of the natural taste of molasses.

Turbinado is a very popular tea variety. Its taste resembles bee honey, but otherwise it is produced through the same method as demerara.

When sugar crystallizes, it is possible that some molasses is included in its composition as a residue. The result is known as natural brown sugar and has a stronger taste than the normal white one. It is usually sweeter, with a flavour resembling caramel.

Health benefits

Brown sugar is a natural product with multiple benefits to health. Due to its high amount of calories, it provides an instant energy boost and can improve immunity, preventing conditions such as cold. It can reduce flatulence by optimizing digestion and help cure uterine infections.

Menstrual cramps are treated in the traditional medicine of some cultures using a natural tea brewed from a mixture of brown sugar and ginger.

Brown sugar has a rough texture, which makes it useful for a surprising purpose. It is quite effective as a skin exfoliant agent and it can scrape the layer of dead cells from your skin, as well as any grime or dirt.

Brown sugar consists of carbohydrates with a simple structure that are quickly absorbed by the body. As a result, it is often added to coffee in the morning to provide an instant energy boost.

Even if it is very sweet, brown sugar can sometimes be useful in weight loss diets because molasses placates hunger and activates the metabolism. However, consuming large amounts of black sugar is not recommended.

After giving birth, women can use brown sugar to relieve some of the discomfort of pregnancy and reduce cramps. It is also said to accelerate recovery after giving birth.

According to some studies, the molasses in brown sugar can reduce the amount of intestinal gasses. This treats gut flatulence, a potentially embarrassing condition even if it doesn't have dangerous effects.

Inflammation caused by asthma is also said to be treated by a drink made from warm water and brown sugar. However, this effect has not been validated yet to scientific evidence.

Brown sugar can replace regular white sugar in any recipe. It provides a richer flavour that makes it the sugar of choice for some applications, but it is otherwise a very versatile ingredient. Many very common and popular dishes include brown sugar, especially baked products, desserts, meatloaf, savoury sauces and marinades. It is widely used to sweeten the taste of coffee and tea.

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