Sugar of some sort, in it’s many forms (often naturally occurring in the raw ingredients we use), is necessary to balance the flavour of most dishes. However one thing I’ve recently begun to question is the use of white sugar in my cooking. So I started to do a little research…
I don’t mind at all that the cane sugar has been crushed and liquefied, boiled and evaporated and then centrifugally spun. This kind of processing seems necessary to create a product that can be easily scooped, mixed and dissolved when required. However, I hadn’t really thought too much about the bleaching side of producing these sweet little crystals. My research uncovered that sulphur dioxide is what’s commonly used to inhibit colour-forming/browning reactions that occur in the refining process and that there seems to be some debate out there as to whether the level of sulphur dioxide used is actually safe for human consumption. Added to the fact that it’s only bleached for cosmetic reasons, to be more appealing to the consumer, I felt it a worthwhile project to look into other possible alternatives to use on a daily basis in our home.
After years of believing brown sugar to be the healthier, less processed cousin to white sugar (after all, this is the case with rice and flour), it was both surprising and disappointing to find out that most brown sugar out there on the market is actually just white sugar that has been coated with molasses (the darker the sugar, the higher percentage of molasses added). It’s effective in adding a caramel-like flavour and colour to the food, but the molasses apparently don’t add any health benefits worth mentioning.
With this in mind, from now on I’ve decided to try and use mostly raw sugar (which can be found now in Australia in the convenient, finer texture of caster sugar for baking).
Excerpt from post titled Sugar… and Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins
And to add to the disappointment, most of CSR’s sugar is now imported! That one really shocked me so since I wasn’t supporting Australian farmers anyway I now usually buy organic (imported) rapadura sugar.
Oh dear, I hadn’t realised that… will have to check the label on the CSR raw sugar that I usually buy. :o/ Thanks for letting me know!
I have also been disappointed to find that brown sugar is processed white sugar. So raw sugar or maple syrup wherever possible, but for large scale bakes, I tend to use white sugar since raw sugar is expensive.
Isn’t it such a crazy thing to be charged more for raw sugar, that has required less processing! So very wrong! Raw sugar here in Australia has always been a little too chunky to use in cakes etc. but recently we’ve been able to buy Raw Caster Sugar, which is a lot finer in texture and that’s pretty much all I use now. Honey is another fabulous natural sweetener to use as well!
Thanks so much for commenting on this subject Apsara – much appreciated! 🙂