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From: (Moore)
Newsgroups: misc.consumers,,alt.usage.english,,
Subject: Re: brown sugar vs syrup
Date: 23 Mar 1996 15:42:14 GMT

In article <4iu2nl$>, says...
>Whooaaaa !
>You mean what we get now as brown sugar is only camalized white
> this is overprocessing and mismarketing...although the stuf
>sure looks brown. (:-)
>tom c.

No, you've misunderstood.  Please let me explain.  I've been in the sugar 
refining industry for over nine years, so I hope that you can believe that I 
have some credibility.

The process of creating sugar crystals goes like this.  

Beet Sugar:  sugar beets are cut into cossettes (like shoe string french 
fries) and immersed in water to diffuse out the sugar.  Unfortunately, other 
compounds (proteins, other carbohydrates, etc.) diffuse out as well, so when 
diffusion is complete, the juice is subjected to 'purification' by liming to 
remove the non-sugars as much as possible.  Liming is a process of adding of 
adding calcium hydroxide (the high pH coagulates proteins, and causes other 
chemical reactions which help to remove the non-sugars) then precipitating 
out the calcium hydroxide by bubbling carbon dioxide through the juice 
(makes calcium carbonate, which is essentially limestone).  The precipitate 
which retains many of the non-sugars (due to the coagulation and other 
processes caused by liming), are filtered out.  Now the juice is 
concentrated by evaporation and crystallization is begun.

Essentially crystallization is a separation process.  Sugar crystals are 
grown around very small 'seed' crystals.  To do this, very small sugar 
crystals are introduced to the process to begin crystallization.  The 
crystals are grown to the desired size, while the syrup surrounding them 
becomes more concentrated in non-sugars (because the sugar is 'leaving' the 
syrup to become part of the crystals).  At this point it is necessary to 
separate the crystals from the syrup, which is accomplished by 
centrifugation (very similar to the spin cycle in your washing machine, 
except the holes in the basket are MUCH smaller!).  It is impossible to 
remove all the syrup simply by spinning, so to produce white granulated 
sugar, the crystals are washed with short burst sprays of very hot water 
while centrifuging.

No brown sugar is produced from sugar beets for retail sale, because the 
flavor of beet molasses (the syrup which surrounds the crystals) is not 
palatable to humans (cattle like it though!).

Sugar Cane:  the sugar containing juice is pressed from the cane, and 
subjected to purification steps (not exactly the same as for beet sugar, but 
similar).  In sugar production from sugar cane, the first crystals prepared 
are truly RAW sugar.  As others have mentioned, it is not fit for human 
consumption, due to the presence of impurities, and must be further refined. 
 To do so, the crystals are re-dissolved, the syrup filtered and 
concentrated, and the crystalization processes described above are carried 

To produce brown sugar, the crystals are left much smaller than for white 
sugar, and the syrup or molasses is not washed off completely.  The flavor 
of cane sugar molasses is pleasing to humans.  Many producers have in fact 
instituted processes where brown sugars are produced by 'blending'.  This is 
a process where sugar is refined to the white sugar crystal, then mixed with 
molasses to prepare brown sugar.  The reason for doing this is mainly for 
inventory control and convenience, rather than to 'trick' the customer.  The 
sugar is not technically any different, whichever way it is prepared.

So, no, brown sugar is NOT caramelized sugar.  Caramelization occurs when a 
sugar molecule is heated to a high enough temperature to begin to break 
down.  The characteristic flavors of 'caramel' are created by the breakdown 
products.  In fact, the sugar industry is extremely careful NOT to subject 
sugars to temperatures high enough to cause caramelization, because it would 
introduce these flavors and cause product loss (any sugar that is 
caramelized is no longer sugar, so it can't be crystallized).  The brown 
color in commercial brown sugars is created in the concentration of the 
syrup, where Maillard browning is responsible for most of the color.

(My experience is in beet sugar, so my apologies if I misrepresented or 
missed any aspect of cane sugar manufacture).

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