Sugar makes the world go round. We crave it, need it, want it, covet it and hate it all at the same time. We harvest it, wash it, mercilessly crush it. Dose it with lime, boil it and then we evaporate it in a "strike" (a vacuum pan) and add some nucleation crystals. (If you do not know, nucleation is the initial process that happens during the formation of a crystal from a solution. Adding nucleation crystals helps the sugar molecules arrange into patterns we recognize as crystals. Savvy? Good.) But wait, there's more. At each stage of the process, there are many, the sugar is extracted and the process is repeated. As you can imagine, the first sugar is the highest quality and is used to make "white sugar." There are numerous phases of the extraction and by products too, molasses for one. The second sugar is lower in quality and is usually blended with the first sugar, bleached a bit and then sold as "raw sugar or "Demerara sugar." (Funny how raw sugar is more expensive than white sugar yet it is actually lower in quality. Huh. No judging because I prefer the taste of raw sugar but, huh.) The third sugar is used for "brown sugar" and the last molasses by product is black strap molasses. Molasses gets sulfurized or not (we eat the unsulfured but the other kind is fed to cows.) The collected sugar is then bleached and formed into granules or loaves.
In its "natural" form, sugar is not all that appealing. Sugar comes from sugar cane which is a perennial tropical grass. Again, huh. Try this the next time you order coffee, 'I'd like a double espresso, mocha chai latte, light on the froth with just a dash of perennial tropical grass, thank you.' Doesn't work does it. Nope. Somehow "sugar" sounds more romantic and most of us don't eat grass. "Sugar" is the generic name for "sweet, soluble carbohydrates." Look it up. Ok, lets try that. 'I'd like a double espresso, mocha chai latte, light on the froth with just a dash of sweet, soluble carbohydrates, thank you.' Nope, that doesn't work too well either. Best to stick with "sugar." It would be kind of fun to try ordering coffee that way though, don't ya think?
Avid home cook and passionate instructor