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Jamie Hertz: The difference between types of sugar
By Jamie Hertz
It’s time to sweeten things up with this article. However, I don’t think you’ll find what I have to say about sugar so sweet.
Without a doubt sweetness is the most favourite taste to us and to prove this just look at a very simple piece of evidence. Restaurant menus around the world only have one menu dedicated strictly to one taste, which is sweetness. Appetizer, dinner, and other menus have a constant mix of all tastes where the dessert menu is almost fully sweet.
Like salt (sodium chloride), sugar has been marketed to a point where we pay so much money for something that really isn’t any different than the less expensive ones and in some cases is actually less expensive to produce. Raw sugar should be half the price compared to white sugar, but we pay twice as much, why?
First we have to look at what sugar is, where it comes from and how we produce it into what we see on our store shelves. Then we can look at what it is worth to us and our wallets, not to mention our health.
As a chef, I am constantly in the middle of controversy involving food and food related topics. It’s hard to find hard scientific evidence when there is so much false information floating around out there, especially with the Internet and social media. Finding the truth becomes harder and harder and it is up to us as individuals to sift through the information and decide what is good for us.
The majority of sugar comes from sugar cane and sugar beets and the process is very similar when it comes to producing it. The plant is crushed, or shredded and then pressed to get all of the juices out. Lime is added to clarify the juice and it is boiled down to a syrup. As the syrup reduces until the water can no longer hold the crystals and they separate.
At this point it is spun in a machine similar to a salad spinner that separates the molasses from the brown sugar. The brown sugar (true raw sugar) contains yeasts, molds, bacteria, soil, insect and other debris to which is declared unhealthy and inedible and illegal to be sold in stores.
So it has to be washed or refined which is a word that for some reason people think becomes unhealthy for us, which is false by scientific evidence. Raw sugar that we see in stores isn’t actually true raw sugar. It is just the rawest that we are allowed to use for consumption.
Here is another little nugget of information for all of you out there: Raw sugar is actually refined as well. When most companies refine our sugar they use things like water and steam to wash it.
The difference between white sugar and brown sugar is the molasses, one has it and one doesn’t.
Something else you should be looking for when buying brown sugar is if it is true brown sugar or imitation. What some companies do to save money is they don’t stop the refining process because it is too expensive and then once it is done, they spray the white sugar with molasses which will have a slightly different reaction when using it.
Like salt, you shouldn’t choose what type of sugar you eat based on its nutrients because you would have to consume so much that it would be very unhealthy for you. You can get all of the nutrients you are trying to get in raw sugar in other foods that make more sense.