Sweet on sugar
This article was originally published in October 2011
If bright white is the only sugar you’ve used for baking or sweetening your tea, you’re in for a treat. We have a range of sugars at PCC, from the sultry, caramel-like Muscovado, to the earthy, unrefined Sucanat, to glistening Turbinado, whose large grains make the ultimate crunchy topping on ginger cookies. Here are some favorites to add sparkle to your apple tarts and other fall desserts (see page 7), with details about what makes them each stand out.
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar is made from certified organic sugar cane grown in South America by farmer cooperatives. The cane juice is crystallized into a blond, neutral-tasting sugar that can be substituted for refined white sugar. Available in 1-pound pouch and in bulk.
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sucanat (from Sugar Cane Natural) is an unrefined cane sugar made by dehydrating the juice of organic sugar cane grown in Costa Rica. It has a high proportion of molasses, which gives it its deep brown color and intense flavor. Sucanat granules are large, and the dry texture means it can be substituted for refined white sugar in any recipe. It’s especially good in recipes that can stand up to its rich flavor, including chocolate-based recipes, spice cakes, ginger cookies and marinades. Available in 1-pound pouch and in bulk.
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified Organic Brown Sugar (dark and light). Brown sugar is white cane sugar with added molasses. The molasses content is higher in dark brown sugar (8 percent) than in light brown sugar (4 percent), which accounts for the richer flavor in the dark. Available in 1.5-pound pouch.
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Turbinado Sugar is a raw sugar made by evaporating cane juice and spinning it in a turbine to produce large, golden crystals (hence the name). Turbinado has a delicate molasses flavor. It may be used as a 1-to-1 replacement for refined white sugar, but the coarse, dry crystals are good for sprinkling on the tops of baked goods for texture. Available in 1.5-pound pouch.
Billington’s Demerara Sugar is made by crystallizing raw sugar cane juice, then spinning it in a centrifuge to remove water and some impurities. Its fairly large grains are crunchy and golden with a sticky texture and a toffee flavor, good for topping desserts or sweetening beverages. It can be used in place of brown sugar or refined white sugar. Available in 1-pound box.
Billington’s Light Brown Muscovado Sugar has soft, moist, fine-grained crystals and a rich molasses flavor. Sugarcane is pressed and cooked, with impurities skimmed off the top, and the resulting dark liquid is dried in the sun, then crushed into a damp sugar that retains its natural minerals. Use in most recipes calling for light brown sugar, by slightly reducing the liquid content of the recipe. It’s excellent in gingery cakes, puddings and marinades. Available in 1-pound box.
SweetTree CocoCrystals™ Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is made from the sap (nectar) of coconut palm blossoms, which is boiled into a thick caramel and ground into fine crystals. It’s sustainably produced by small-scale farmers on the island of Java. It’s a low-glycemic sugar — meaning it won’t spike blood sugar like other sweeteners — and is high in potassium and other nutrients. It’s reddish-brown in color but drier than brown sugars, so you can use it in place of refined white sugar in recipes, or sprinkled on oatmeal or cookies. Tasters at PCC were surprised they liked this sugar best of all, for its caramel-like flavor and aroma. Available in 1-pound pouch.
Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane Sugar (previously called “Rapadura” sugar) is unrefined, unbleached, and is harvested from family farms in South America. It’s certified through Hand in Hand, a fair trade program. It’s grainy and golden in color, with a strong molasses flavor. Because of its dry texture, it may be used like white sugar. Available in 1.5-pound pouch.