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There are many different types of granulated sugar which all differ in crystal size. Each crystal size provides functional characteristics that make it appropriate for different types of recipes. Some types of dry sugar can be tinted. It can also be applied as a decoration by sprinkling on baking recipes before or after baking.
Beet sugar is derived from sugar beets, while cane sugar is derived from sugar cane, which can make a difference in baking. Some manufacturers don't specify whether their product is beet or cane sugar. Read article and information on C & H Companies which have pure cane sugar are: C & H, Imperial and Domino.
Sugar cane grows in tropical and subtropical climates: Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Hawaii, India, Brazil, Cuba, Thailand. Sugar beets thrive in temperate climates: North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho, California, the former Soviet Union, Europe.
GRANULATED, REGULAR, TABLE SUGAR, SUGAR, CRYSTALLINE WHITE SUGAR, (SUCROSE): Granulated white sugar is the one used most commonly in recipes. It is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable in the plant kingdom, but is found in the greatest quantities in sugar cane and sugar beets.
SARAH SAYS: Keep granulated sugar in an airtight container to preserve freshness.
White sugar is 99.9% pure sucrose, its technical name that is refined and processed into small crystals. The size of the crystals (degree of granulation) determines the sugar's use in the kitchen and all have equal sweetening power. The only difference in content is that powdered sugar has 3 percent cornstarch added to prevent lumping. Sugar will keep indefinitely if kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Crystalline sugar is essential to all baking recipes, but can be substituted if necessary, without some of the same qualities. It is integral to the creaming step for cakes and cookies, and other baked goods. It is also essential when making candy. Regular sugar is added when making meringue. Cooked sugar is added to beaten egg to make a pâte â bombe (egg yolks) or an Italian meringue (egg whites).
BAKERS SPECIAL SUGAR: Baker's special has a grain size between standard granulated and superfine. As its name suggests, it was developed specially for the baking industry. Bakers Special is used for sugaring doughnuts and cookies. Bakers use it in cakes because the fine granules improve the texture.
BAR SUGAR: is the fast dissolving sugar named after bartenders who use it regularly. This is simply labeled as 'superfine" or "instant dissolving" sugar.
BARBADOS SUGAR: See Muscovado Sugar.
BROWN SUGAR: Brown sugar consists of sugar crystals coated in molasses syrup with natural flavor and color. Its presence will keep sugars from crystallizing during candy-making. It comes in light brown and dark brown varieites. When recipes say brown sugar, use dark brown sugar, the sticky, damp kind, not raw brown sugar crystals (like raw sugar) or free-flowing dry brown sugar called "Brownulated". Dark brown sugar has more color and a stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Dark brown sugar has a rich flavor that is good for gingerbread, mincemeat, baked beans, plum pudding and other full flavored foods.
Lighter types are generally used in baking and making butterscotch, condiments and glazes.
Measure all brown sugar by packing it into a metal measuring cup with a spoon and leveling the top. It can also be weighed.
To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year and once opened store in an airtight container to prevent the sugar from going hard or damp.
SARAH SAYS: I keep my brown sugar double-wrapped in a plastic bag in the freezer to make it last longer without hardening. I take it out to thaw about 15 minutes before I need to use it, then return the remaining portion to the freezer.
Brown sugar hardens during storage when the moisture in it has evaporated. Therefore, the various methods used for softening brown sugar are intended to return moisture to the sugar, but they don't always work:
1) Microwaving brown sugar with a slice of bread is one way to soften it.
2) Another way to soften hard brown sugar, place an open bag of sugar in the microwave with a cup of water next to it. Microwave on high (100%) for 2-3 minutes. If your microwave doesn't have a carousel, turn the bag after each minute. NOTE: This worked great, but isn't a permanent fix. Any unused sugar will dry up again. However, the process can be repeated each time you need sugar.
3) Place about 1/2 lb. of hardened brown sugar in microwave safe bowl. Cover sugar with two pieces of wet paper towels. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap. Heat in microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.* Divide sugar with fork (sugar will be hot); stir. Use immediately. *Microwave ovens vary in power; cooking time may need adjustment.
4) Place a piece of foil or plastic wrap directly on the sugar. Set a piece of crumpled, dampened paper towel on the foil. Cover container tightly. The sugar will absorb the moisture from the paper towel and become soft. Remove the paper towel when it has dried out.
5) Place about 1/2 lb. of hardened brown sugar in a bowl. Cover sugar with two pieces of wet paper towels. Cover bowl tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Let stand overnight at room temperature. Divide sugar with fork; stir. Use immediately.
BROWNULATED OR FREE-FLOWING BROWN SUGAR: Brownulated granulated is free-flowing sugar with a medium molasses flavor. 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 sugar. Don't interchange it with regular brown sugar because it will produce differences in texture.
BURNT SUGAR: Also called Caramelized Sugar to produce a very deep, rich, brown-colored sauce, often used as a base of many recipes. It is used to flavor and color many dishes in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
CANDY SUGAR: Large white crystals from very pure sugar.
CARAMELIZED SUGAR: Granulated sugar is caramelized by cooking at high temperature. Prepared in specialty items requiring a special flavor and color (i.e. crème caramel dessert). Not available for purchase, but can be made at home.
CASTER (CASTOR): Very fine crystals make this sugar excellent for sprinkling and including in recipes. Use for sprinkling over fresh fruit or cereals or including in creamed mixtures, meringues and baking. To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year and once opened store in an airtight container to prevent the sugar from going hard or damp.
CHINESE SUGAR: Finely crystallized refined sugar. Substitutes: granulated sugar; substitute 1 tablespoon for each Chinese sugar crystal.
CINNAMON SUGAR: 7 parts granulated sugar + 1 part cinnamon
COARSE SUGAR: Also known as pearl or decorating sugar. As its name implies, the crystal size of coarse sugar has a large grain, similiar to the size of pretzel salt. It adds a bit of crunch and a lot of color to cookie, cake and cupcake recipes. It tends not to change color or break down at high temperatures. These characteristics are important in making fondants, confections and liquors.
CONFECTIONERS' SUGAR: See Powdered Sugar
CUBED SUGAR: These are small cubes of solid sugar. Two types of sugar cubes are available - white and demerara. They are a convenient, ready measured (1 tsp) amount of sugar. Sugar cubes are used for sweetening coffee and tea. Demerara sugar cubes are used to sweeten coffee and white cubes for tea. Crushed sugar cubes are also used to sprinkle over sweet breads and cakes to add a sweet, crunchy garnish. To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year and once opened store in an airtight container to prevent the cubes from disintegrating and going damp.
DATE SUGAR: Date sugar is more a food than a sweetener. It is ground up from dehydrated dates, is high in fiber, and a long list of vitamins and minerals, including iron. Its use is limited by price and the fact it does not dissolve when added to liquids. Substitute one cup date sugar for each cup granulated sugar.
DECORATORS (DECORATIVE) SUGAR: See Coarse Sugar
DEHYDRATED CANE JUICE CRYSTALS = GRANULATED CANE: Usually light brown in color , it comes in solid and powder form.
DEMERARA: Popular in England, it is a light brown, slightly sticky sugar with large golden crystals. Used as a specialty item for household baked goods or in tea, coffee or on top of hot cereals. Substitutes: turbinado sugar.
DEXTROSE (GLUCOSE POWDER): Dextrose (also known as glucose powder) is a monosaccharide or simple sugar powder that is about 20% less sweet as cane sugar. It is derived entirely from corn and contains no fructose or lactose. Dextrose is commonly used as a sweetener, a source of rapidly absorbed energy and a carrier in water soluble medications (D5W).
FINE OR EXTRA-FINE: The term “fine granulated” is not to be confused with “superfine,” which is much finer.
FONDANT SUGAR = SUGAR FONDANT = ICING SUGAR: is up to 100 times finer than standard confectioners' sugar and is specifically used for the making of fondant, a smooth sugar coating or filling. Fondant is typically used in Wedding Cakes, pastries, marshmallows and candy. Substitute it with Powdered Sugar.
FREE-FLOWING BROWN SUGAR: See Brownulated
FRUCTOSE: in crystal form, made from cane or beets, is nearly twice as sweet as sucrose and is more expensive. Fructose attracts more water than sugar, therefore, fructose sweetened products tend to be moist. Baked products made with fructose will be darker than if they were made with sucrose. See also liquid fructose.
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.
GRAPE: Similar to cane sugar, but less sweet and tends to attract and absorb moisture.
ICING SUGAR: See Fondant Sugar
INSTANT DISSOLVING: See Superfine Sugar
JAGGERY: [JAG-uh-ree] (Also known as Panela) This dark, coarse, unrefined sugar (sometimes referred to as palm sugar) can be made either from the sap of various palm trees or from sugar-cane juice. It is primarily used in India, where many categorize sugar made from sugar cane as jaggery and that processed from palm trees as gur. It comes in several forms, the two most popular being a soft, honey butter texture and a solid cakelike form. The former is used to spread on breads and confections, while the solid version serves to make candies, and when crushed, to sprinkle on cereal, and so on. Jaggery has a sweet, winey fragrance and flavor that lends distinction to whatever food it embellishes. It can be purchased in East Indian markets. To order it, click here.
LUMP OR LOAF SUGAR: Fine crystalline white sugar in block form. Substitutes: castor sugar. Uses: good for jam making.
MALT SUGAR OR SYRUP: Barley malt syrup or powdered malt is used in breads because it doesn’t interfere with gluten development and because the diastatic variety contains enzymes to convert flour to yeast food. It contributes both flavor and color, although these enzymes require at least eight hours to work effectively in fermenting dough
MUSCOVADO = BARBADOS: Muscovado sugar is a British specialty rich and dark brown unrefined sugar obtained by evaporation of cane sugar and draining off molasses. However, it still has a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than "regular" brown sugar. Uses: good for toffee & gingerbread. Not suitable for cooking with fruit. To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year and once opened store in an airtight container to prevent the sugar from going hard or damp.
PALM SUGAR: Commonly referred to a jaggery in SE Asia where it is widely used. It is brown with a crumbly texture. Palm sugar is the sap obtained from various palm trees which is produced when the tree converts starch reserves into sugar in preparation for growth. The actual sugar content is between 10% to over 15%.
PANELA: is unrefined whole cane sugar, typical of Central and of Latin America in general, which is a solid form of sucrose derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. Panela is known by other names in Latin America, such as piloncillo in Mexico
PEARL SUGAR: Also called Decorative or Sanding Sugar. Used as a decoration in baking.
PILONCILLO Piloncillo, a Mexican sugar, is made from pure, unrefined sugar that is pressed into a cone shape. It tastes very similar to brown sugar with a molasses flavor (even though it does not contain molasses) and you can use it for anything that calls for brown sugar. See also Panela.
POWDERED = CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR: Called by both names, it is finely crushed white sugar ground to a smooth powder and then sifted before putting it in a box or bag for sale. Confectioners' sugar is available in different finenesses; 10X is a certain size grain, vs. say, 4X. The higher the number, the finer it is such as the 10X confectioners’ sugar available in supermarkets. You can't make finer powdered sugar at home because no home processor will grind it to that powdery texture. See also Fondant Sugar.
Powdered sugar dissolves rapidly in liquids and fats at any temperature, making it ideal for sweetening; do not substitute it with regular granulated sugar. It is used in icings, confections and whipping cream. It is also used to thicken because it usually contains about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. Its powdery texture also works beautifully to dust on desserts. For more of a "restaurant-style" presentation, sift confectioners' sugar over the entire plate and garnish with drizzles of raspberry or caramel sauce. See also Snow White Sugar for a nondissolving powdered sugar.
1 pound unsifted powdered sugar = about 4 cups
PRESERVING SUGAR: This type of sugar has the largest crystals which dissolve quickly when stirred into a liquid, this reduces the risk of the sugar burning. Preserving sugar dissolves quicker than granulated sugar. Used in jams, jellies, marmalades and pickles where it dissolves quickly to give a good set.
RAW SUGAR = TURBINADO = SUCANAT = DEHYDRATED CANE JUICE (CRYSTALS): Natural sugar is refined to produce pure sucrose In the form of dry, brown sugar crystals (the color being due to the presence of impurities) obtained from the evaporation of clarified sugar cane juices.
Raw or sucanat sugar comes in both granular and liquid forms, while both turbinado and light brown sugar comes in granular form. Granulated raw or turbinado is a dry, coarse-textured sugar that's not been refined to make white sugar. It's light brown and tastes mildly like molasses. The blond color with a mild brown sugar flavor come from the molasses in the crystals. It has the same carbohydrate and calorie content as white sugar. As it contains only trace amounts of any minerals, it offers no nutritional value over white sugar.
SANDING SUGAR: Also know as decorator's sugar, decorating sugar, pearl sugar, or coarse sugar. It has a large crystal sugar than table sugar, and can be use either before or after baking. It will not dissolve when subjected to heat, and it comes plain or already tinted. It is excellent for filling in brightly colored designs on cakes, cookies and cupcakes. The crystals reflect light and give the product a sparkling appearance. Sanding sugar can be purchased from cookware or specialty stores.
Cookies: Sprinkle all over atop cookies prior to baking. We use it in the Snow Globe Cookie Ornaments Recipe, after baking. The sugar can be used in small amounts or used heavily for a solid color affect.
Muffins and Cobblers: Sprinkle white sanding sugar on cobbler and muffin tops prior to baking. We use it with the
Pies: Sprinkle on top of pastry crusts before baking. Make sure you adhere it to the crust by lightly brushing the top of pie lightly with the cream, for example, before using. We use it in the The Ultimate Apple Pie Recipe with a Rum Raisin Sauce Recipe.
Wet Icings: Ice cookies or cup cakes and allow icing to dry. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small tip with icing. Pipe on little raised accents. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the wet piping. Tilt the cookie or cupcake and tap lightly to remove excess sugar.
SNOW WHITE SUGAR: is a confectioners' type sugar that won't melt and disappear when sprinkled on top of a lemon tart, pastry or doughnuts.
SORBITAL: A sugar-derived alcohol from the skin of ripe berries, cherries, and plums. It comes in powder, flakes, or granules. It serves as an anti-crystallization agent and is used as a thickener in candies and a stabilizer and sweetener in frozen desserts.
STEVIA: is a South American herb used as a natural sweetener for centuries. As a (dry or liquid) sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations. With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. (from wikipedia.com)
SUBSTITUTES or ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
SUCANAT: See Raw Sugar
SUPERFINE = ULTRA-FINE = EXTRA-FINE = FINE GRANULATED = INSTANT DISSOLVING = BAR = BERRY or FRUIT SUGAR = CASTOR OR CASTER (ENGLAND): dissolves more quickly, and is recommended for sweetening beverages, and for making meringues, cakes, soufflés, and mousses. This sugar is also known as fruit sugar because it is used in the preservation of fruits. Most professional bakers use this granulation as their all-purpose sugar. But unlike confectioners' sugar, superfine sugar is granulated. It is found in the grocery store, and use it one for one with regular granulated sugar. Strain it before using as it always clumps.
When used in cakes, superfine sugar results in a fine crumb and lighter texture because, with smaller crystals, more surface area is available to trap air. In the "creaming step", the sharp or angular surfaces of the crystals catch air. If the surface were smooth, as with powdered sugar, the grains would just clump together and not allow air in between. The more crystals there are, the more air will be incorporated.
Cookies made with superfine sugar are smoother and have fewer cracks. Finer sugar also dissolves more easily and is perfect for making delicate meringues (which weep if there's any undissolved sugar). Superfine sugar also quickly dissolves well in cold and room-temperature liquids.
SARAH SAYS: Superfine sugar is available in many supermarkets in a one-pound box. You can make your own superfine sugar, but it doesn't work as well as the kind from the store when using it for creaming.
SURE- JELL (powdered pectin): Fruit pectin for homemade jams and 'Jellies. It contains dextrose (corn syrup), fruit pectin, and furnaric acid (which assist in the gelling process). Most grocery stores carry it. I use regular Sure-jell, but it is also available as Sure-jell Light or Slim-Set.
TURBINADO (BROWN): See also Raw Sugar. 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 beverages
UNREFINED NATURAL SUGAR: A natural and unrefined sugar that tends to vary in color. Comes in either granular or liquid forms. Look for certified organic varieties.
TINTED: Tint sugar with food colors to decorate with.
VANILLA SUGAR: This sugar is made by burying two to three vanilla beans in about one pound of sugar. It is then covered and allowed to stand for at least one week. (This is a good use for used vanilla bean pods after they’re dried.) It can be stored indefinitely at room temperature in an airtight container.