Let’s talk about sugar again. In my last blog I made the statement “All sugar is the same”. Many wondered, “Is it?” And is it really all the same? Is one sugar as sweet as the other? How about brown sugar? It doesn’t look or taste the same. Is it less refined? Does it have more vitamins and minerals? Fewer calories?
Mystery debunked. Brown sugar has the same amount of calories as white sugar in a teaspoon; one packed teaspoon has an average of 17 calories. It does not contribute significant amounts of other nutrients with the exception of carbohydrate, sugar and calories.
So what's the big mystery? There are several different types of brown sugar, but mostly they’re all the same. The brown sugar we know in this country is refined sugar that is mixed with molasses to give it the rich, brown color, and is available in two types; light and dark brown. It’s used widely for candy making and baking and has no other significant benefit except the rich flavor of molasses. Brown sugar is higher in moisture because of its molasses content and tends to clump.
Simple facts. There’s one big problem with brown sugar and that is the undesirable clumping. Have you ever tried to pry loose a hard brick of brown sugar? It’s nearly impossible, so it can’t be measured accurately. To solve this problem manufacturers developed a process known as co-crystallization during which the brown sugar is refined to a finer powder and has less moisture, a combination that prevents clumping.
Muscovado or Barbados sugar is of British origin and considered a specialty sugar. It has a stronger molasses flavor, a darker color than ordinary brown sugar, and has larger coarser crystals. articularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than “regular” brown sugar.
Demerara sugar is again a British sugar and it’s very popular in England. It has light brown slightly sticky golden crystals, and is very attractive in a bowl. The slight molasses flavor imparts and interesting taste to most beverages and other bland foods it’s used on.
So are these sugars better for you? Do they have fewer calories? Vitamins and minerals? Unfortunately no. Brown sugar provides the same calories as white sugar. Your only advantage if you prefer to use brown sugar is the notable difference in taste.
Have you ever found yourself halfway through a recipe that has brown sugar and reached into your cupboard to find out there's none? Where did that brown sugar go? Don't dispair, in a pinch you can make your own. To every cup of white sugar, add 1 tablespoon of molasses and mix using a food processor, blender or mixer.