For most of us the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word sugar is white granulated sugar.
During the first centuries of the sugar industry, cane sugar was made into molasses and rum for shipping overseas. Sugar itself was raw; a light brown in color, and still retained much of its original nutrients. The refining of sugar cane evolved gradually, but as the mass market for sugar developed, the amount consumed rose from about 2 kg per person per year to about 8 kg – to a staggering 68 kg per person per year today! Sugar and cheap bread, became the fuel of the industrial revolution and today a billion dollar business.
We all know we shouldn’t eat too much sugar but without giving it up completely, we can reduce the sugar in our recipes and add spices to boost flavor and taste. But when it comes to baking or sweetening our tea or coffee, sugar is what we most often use and so it’s often recommended that we use natural whole cane sugar, Muscovado, or also Mascobado opposed to chemically refined sugar. These terms can be confusing, so what is the real difference between them?
WHAT IS WHOLE CANE SUGAR?
Whole cane sugar is extracted from sugar cane, which is grown mostly in sunny, southern areas. In simple terms, whole cane sugar is the dried and then thickened juice of the sugar cane plant. The sugar juice is separated from the cane, filtered and then goes through a series of boilers, each time losing more water and becoming thicker in consistency and a darker caramel color. The sugar transforms into a honey-like state and is mixed in a slow simmer until the heat and last of the moisture is released until it dries into a crumbly mass which later ground into sugar granules. An amazing process which involves a massive amount of manual work.
Whole cane sugar contains many minerals and vitamins as opposed to refined (chemically “purified” sugars). It is light caramel in color and has a malty taste and unique flavor, resembling a cross between caramel and molasses. It’s great for baking – in particular, for cookies. They simply taste better when baked using whole cane sugar. Use it wherever you would use white granulated sugar.
Most of the artisanal Muscovado sugars come from the island of Mauritius, off the coast of Africa. Muscovado is the finest brown sugar you can buy and is nothing less than whole cane sugar that has a moist texture and strong molasses flavor. It usually comes labeled “light” (with less molasses) or “dark” (with more molasses). It is unrefined and has relatively high amounts of vitamins and minerals. With its complex depth of flavor, it’s excellent in savory dishes like barbecue sauces and marinades, as well as recipes that highlight its fine flavor such as soft chewy cookies, as well as chocolate cakes and puddings.
Muskovade is the German translation of the English term Muscovado, and Mascobado is just another term for the very same thing. Muscovado.
While whole cane sugar is better than white, granulated sugar, even so-called good sugars should be consumed within healthy limits. Read here to learn more about sugar and your health.