Brown sugar

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content or produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar.

Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5% molasses (dark brown sugar). The product is naturally moist from the hygroscopic nature of the molasses and is often labelled as "soft." The product may undergo processing to give a product that flows better for industrial handling. The addition of dyes and/or other chemicals may be permitted in some areas or for industrial products.

Particle size is variable but generally less than granulated white sugar. Products for industrial use (e.g. the industrial production of cakes) may be based on caster sugar which has crystals of approximately 0.35 mm.


Many brown sugar producers produce brown sugar by adding cane molasses to completely refined white sugar crystals in order to more carefully control the ratio of molasses to sugar crystals and to reduce manufacturing costs. This also allows the production of brown sugars to be based predominantly on beet sugar. Brown sugar prepared in this manner is often much coarser than its unrefined equivalent and its molasses may be easily separated from the crystals by simple washing to reveal the underlying white sugar crystals; with unrefined brown there is inclusion of molasses within the crystal which will appear off-white if washed. This is mainly done for inventory control and convenience.

The molasses usually used is that obtained from sugar cane, because the flavor is generally preferred over beet sugar molasses. Although in some areas, especially in the Netherlands, sugar beet molasses is used. The white sugar used can be from either beet or cane as odour and color differences will be covered by the molasses.

Brown sugar can be made at home by mixing white granulated sugar with molasses, using one tablespoon of molasses for every cup of white sugar (one-sixteenth or 6.25% of the total volume). Thorough blending will yield dark brown sugar; for light brown sugar, between one and two teaspoons of molasses per cup should be used instead. It is, however, simpler to substitute molasses for an equal portion of white sugar while cooking, without mixing them separately.

When a recipe calls for "brown sugar" it is usually referring to light brown sugar; dark brown sugar should be used only when specified.Fact|date=August 2007 This is relevant primarily when baking recipes sensitive to moisture and density (such as cakes), because of the difference in moisture content between the two types. In other applications, substituting dark brown sugar over light brown will yield a deeper flavor with more caramel, much like adding molasses would do.

Nutritional value

Brown sugar has a slightly lower caloric value by weight than white sugar due to the presence of water. One hundred grams of brown sugar contains 373 calories, as opposed to 396 calories in white sugar.New Scientist. [ I'm Sweet Enough] 21 January 2006] However, brown sugar packs more densely than white sugar due to the smaller crystal size and may have more calories when measured by volume. One tablespoon of brown sugar has 48 calories against 45 calories for white sugar [ [ Sugar Association ] ]

Brown sugar is reputed to have some value as a home remedy for menstrual cramps, though this is likely untrue. [Shils, Olson, and Shike. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Eighth edition. [] ]

John Yudkin, in his studies (cited in "Pure, White and Deadly" - UK title) that rats fed brown sugar, as opposed to white sugar, suffered all the same ills from such consumption as did the control group fed white sugar, while their offspring did not exhibit the same abnormalities related to the offspring of the rats fed on white sugar. This led to the conclusion that there are some trace nutritional aspects he was unable to detect in brown sugar that made it less harmful than white sugar, though the impact could only be detected in their offspring. Nutritionally, apart from pure carbohydrate, he was not able to detect any nutritional component to white or brown sugar, and such pure carbohydrate is on the list to avoid (therefore the term "nutritional" is suspect in this case) in the World Health Organization and FAO study [] on obesity and chronic preventable diseases. Note this study does state that carbohydrates in their "intrinsic" or "unrefined" form are nutritionally highly beneficial and should make up 55-75% of our diet, but they are fundamentally different from "extrinsic" carbohydrates such as both white and brown sugar.


In the late 1800s, the newly consolidated refined white sugar industry, which did not have full control over brown sugar production, mounted a smear campaign against brown sugar, reproducing microscopic photographs of harmless but repulsive-looking microbes living in brown sugar. The effort was so successful that by 1900, a best-selling cookbook warned that brown sugar was of inferior quality and was susceptible to infestation by "a minute insect."Levenstein, Harvey. [ Revolution at the Table] Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. 32-33]

Natural brown sugar

Natural brown sugar is a name for raw sugar which is a brown sugar produced from the first crystallisation of the sugar cane. As such "natural brown sugar" is free of additional dyes and chemicals. There is more molasses in brown sugar, giving it a higher mineral content. Some natural brown sugars have particular names and characteristics, and are sold as Turbinado sugar, Muscovado, or Demerara sugar.

Turbinado sugar is made by crushing freshly cut sugar cane to obtain a juice, which is evaporated to a thick syrup, and then spun in a centrifuge (thus "turbina-"), which produces characteristic large, light brown, crystals. [cite web|url=|title=Organic Turbinado Sugar|accessdate=2008-09-20] [cite web|url=|title=Press release describes manufacturing process for organic turbinado sugar|accessdate=2008-09-20] Muscovado (also moscovado) is an unrefined, dark brown sugar that is produced without centrifugation and has much smaller crystals than turbinado sugar. The sugar cane extract is heated to thicken it and then pan-evaporated in the sun and pounded to yield an unprocessed, damp sugar that retains all of the natural minerals. [cite web|url=|title=This is how Muscovado Sugar is made.|accessdate=2008-09-20] Demerara (also spelled "demerera") sugar's name comes from the Demerera River area of Guyana, where sugar cane was grown. Demerara is another unrefined, centrifuged, large-crystalled, light brown, cane sugar; it is slightly sticky and sometimes molded into sugar cubes. Some Demerara is still produced in South America, but most is now produced in Mauritius, an island off Africa.


External links

* [ Usenet posting about sugar refining techniques]
* [,,.aspx British Sugar - Brown sugar products]

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