If you are like most people, you are probably wondering why we need so many types of sugar, especially when most of them seemingly taste the same. They all however do different things in different ways when combined with other ingredients. How well do you know your sugar? Here are 14 different types:
1. Granulated Sugar
This is the stuff you are used to seeing every day. It is the most commonly seen sugar in developed countries; it is also the most well loved sugar too. It is very adaptable and is truly a multi-purpose sugar that goes in everything from your cup of tea to your master baking.
2. Caster Sugar
This is a very fine and highly refined sugar most often used for meringues, cocktails and syrups because it melts or dissolves so quickly.
3. Light Brown Sugar
This is a form of refined sugar that is light brown because a small amount of molasses is added into the sugar. It has a nice caramel flavor, and is often one of the more wet and sticky types of sugar. It is sometimes used in baking and may be used in savory sauces.
4. Dark Brown Sugar
You can use dark and light sugar interchangeably. There is not a big difference besides the fact that dark sugar has more molasses added in. It has a stronger and more intense flavor.
5. Turbinado Sugar
This is a form of raw cane sugar that undergoes very little refining. It has brown sugar crystals and may be mistaken for brown sugar even though it is not. It is often used to sweeten beverages because of its subtle caramel flavors. It may also be used in baking.
6. Pearl Sugar
Go to Scandinavia and eat a pastry or bun and you may come across hail, pearl or nib sugar, as it is commonly used as a sweet decoration for baked goods. Sprinkling something with sugar may make it look a little nicer, especially if it is confectioner’s sugar, and pearl sugar is no exception in the aesthetics department.
7. Sanding Sugar
This is a baking and decorative sugar. It is very good at withstanding higher temperatures, which makes it good for decorating things that may be served hot such as donuts.
8. Confectioner’s Sugar
You may also know this sugar as icing sugar (especially if you’re in the UK). It is powered to such an extent that it draws moisture from the air and clumps. That is why cornstarch is often added. It is an ideal sugar for adding water to for making a harder sugar coating for cake (also referred to as icing).
9. Cane Sugar
You will find that cane sugar has a slightly larger ground and a darker color. It is not as common as granulated and confectioner’s sugar, so it is slightly more expensive. It is minimally processed and comes from sugar cane as opposed to a mixture of sugar beets and sugar cane. It is sometimes used as an alternative to granulated sugar.
10. Muscovado Sugar
It often has a sandy texture and is sticky and wet. It has a rich and complex flavor because it is an unrefined sugar cane that has not had its molasses removed. It is a strong sugar that may be used to replace brown sugar. It is very good for marinades and barbeque sauce.
11. Demerara Sugar
Just from looking at it, you may be able to tell that the sugar is minimally processed. It is a form of raw sugar cane with larger grains and a subtle molasses flavor. It is an amber color and often used as a topping on baked goods.
Used widely in Asian cuisines, jaggery is a completely unrefined sugar made from sugar cane juice that is reduced and set into blocks. It has a wonderful, rich flavor, somewhere between molasses and caramel depending on the quality and season.
13. Palm Sugar
Palm sugar was originally made from the sap of the Palmyra palm, the date palm or the sugar date palm. These days it is also made from the sap of the nipa palm and the sugar palm (arenga pinnata), and may therefore also be sold as "arenga sugar".
Molasses has a slightly bitter flavor and is not a pure form of sugar but a thick, dark, heavy syrup which is a by-product of sugar refining. The darker the molasses, the less sugar it contains. It is known as black treacle in the UK.
So my sweet-toothed friends, how many of these types of sugar were you aware of?