Food Science: Sugar
The creation of crystallized sugar as we know it may have begun in India before 3000 B.C. The creation of sugar starts with the processing of sucrose extracts or ‘sugar juices’ from the plants then crystallizing them. The juices from the process tend to spoil in a short amount of time which is why it is converted to raw sugar. Raw sugar has an indefinite shelf life. The second step in sugar production is refining to remove “impurities.” This step means that anything that is not just sucrose (i.e. molasses and minerals) is removed resulting in a ‘white’ color.
Honey is considered to be a sugar syrup. Honey contains 17.2 percent water, this common ingredient is the nectar of plants gathered, modified, stored, and concentrated by the honey bees. It’s made up of levulose (fructose) and dextrose or glucose. Honey has many sources, such as borage, buckwheat, avocado, thyme, clover, and its flavor varies accordingly.
Turbinado sugar is sugar that has undergone limited refinement sugar, is the first pressing of juice from sugar cane which is gradually heated allowing the water to evaporate. As the water evaporates crystallization occurs. The final step of the drying process is when the crystals are spun in turbines. Because turbinado is less processed than white sugar it retains more of the nutrients found in sugar cane juice. In a teaspoon there is a fair amount of calcium and potassium and a cup or 250 grams of this turbinado contains magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium.
Agave is succulent plant with rosettes of narrow spiny leaves and tall flower spikes, native to the southern US and tropical America. It is less refined than turbinado sugar and is 1.4 to 1.6 times as sweet as refined sugar so in theory you could less agave than you would sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness. Agave has high levels of fructose in the range of 70 to 90 percent so it has a lower-glycemic index than most other sweeteners. Agave can be used in place of maple syrup or honey.
Dirr, Michael. Dirr’s Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 2002. Print.
Miller, C. C., Ruth Washburn. Jordan, Shirley Lind, Alice Bradley, and Marjorie Luce. Culinary Ephemera: Sweetening Products. 1915. Print.
Niall, Mäni. Sweet!: From Agave to Turbinado, Home Baking with Every Kind of Natural Sugar and Sweetener. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Lifelong, 2008. Print.