Everyone is becoming more health conscious today, and that means people are paying closer attention to what they are eating throughout the day – from items that are bought at the store to food that’s made at home. The hard part for consumers is interpreting food labels, especially when it comes to ingredients one might have concerns about, such as the type of added sugar. With so many varieties of sugar available, it is important to understand the differences between them, what they are best used for and the role that they play in the flavour of different foods.
Why do some foods need sugar?
Beyond providing sweetness, the molecular structure of sugar aids in the baking process, and also creates appealing colour and texture. In fact, sugar has a wide variety of applications even beyond baked goods – from savoury dishes to cocktails and more. Here’s what sugar, or sucrose, does for many foods you make or buy:
Bread: Sugar creates
crust browning (caramelization), affects starch swelling and “feeds”
yeast fermentation. Sugar also helps retain moisture, extending bread’s
Cereal bars: Sugar offers sweetness and helps retain moisture. Consumers should seek products specifically containing “Raw Cane Sugar” as “Cane Sugar” is a blanket term for many types of sugar, including white refined sugar. Consumers seeking minimally processed ingredients should look for Raw Cane Sugar in the ingredient statement.
Cookies: Especially with brown sugars,
caramelization influences the color of cookies while enhancing their
flavour. Sugar also helps prevent over-development of gluten to create
the right texture, and helps retain moisture to create softness in some
Fermented food and beverages: Sugar plays a vital role in many fermented foods and beverages such as yoghurt, smoothies and ice cream.
When it comes to sugar, if you’re looking for a more wholesome choice with a range of flavors, you’re in luck – there are many choices beyond white refined sugar.
Raw cane sugar offers many options for flavour variety, texture and versatility. Using minimally processed sugar provides an exciting range of rich and complex tastes.
Look for these sugar options when shopping or as an ingredient on labels for foods you buy:
Raw cane sugar
Minimally processed foods and ingredients are on trend in every category and sugar is no different. Shoppers today prefer minimally processed and organic sweeteners because they want ingredients with more flavor, texture, color and mouthfeel. When buying products, it’s important to look for “raw cane sugar” on the label, as raw cane sugar comes from the sugarcane plant, and it is minimally processed.
Brown sugar comes directly from sugarcane, the distinctive molasses taste permeates the entire crystal.
Dark brown sugar
deep molasses taste of dark brown sugar is sought after for many
spice-filled holiday treats like gingerbread, as well as in savoury
sauces and marinades for barbecued, grilled or smoked meats. The bold
flavour of dark brown sugar complements strong or spicy flavours in a
wide range of foods.
Light brown sugar
While not as bold in terms of flavor as dark brown sugar, light brown sugar is buttery and warm, with caramel notes. This moist sugar suits baked goods like brownies and cookies, plus savoury dishes needing just a hint of sweetness, including in Asian flavour profiles.
You’ve probably seen this kind of sugar in packets at restaurants. Also referred to as Demerara sugar, Turbinado cane sugar adds crunch as well as sparkle for cookies and other desserts. With its large grains and amber color, Turbinado offers a bold molasses taste but in a free-flowing form, unlike its stickier brown sugar cousins.
Different kinds of sugar can add great flavour to many kinds of foods you buy as well as make yourself. -BPT