Home Distillation of Alcohol (Homemade Alcohol to Drink)

Information about Sugars


For more details about sugar, see the Sugar page.

Wal summarises ...
    Sugars are important to distillers. I found the various terms confusing, so I searched around and made some notes from various web sites:

    Sugar is the chemical sucrose that occurs naturally in plants. 'Saccharum officinarum' is the species of basic importance to the history of the sugarcane industry.

    The first evidence of crystal sugar production appears at about 500 BC in Sanskrit texts that indicate it took place in northern India. Knowledge of this technique spread from northern India eastward to China and (along with the cultivation of sugarcane) westward into Persia, eventually reaching the east coast of the Mediterranean about 600 AD.

    The sugar industry entered the Mediterranean basin as part of an agricultural revolution carried out by the Arabs. To mill sugarcane, the burgeoning industry borrewed existing Mediterranean technology for extracting olives and nuts and, in a second operation, used screw presses to obtain more juice from the bagasse. The juice was then clarified, reduced to the point of crystallisation in open pans over furnaces, and the resulting syrup was placed in conical pots from which the molasses drained, leaving a loaf of sugar in each pot.

    It was only after 1700 that sugar was transformed from a luxury product into one of everyday use by even the poor. This took place as Brazil and the new West Indies colonies began producing sugar in such large quantiities that price was significantly reduced.

    From http://us.cambridge.org/Books/kiple/sugar.htm ... The above process is still common. This is unrefined non-centrifugal sugar. In India it is called 'khandsari', 'jaggery' or 'gur'. In Latin America it is called 'chancaca', 'panela', 'raspadura' or 'piloncillo'. The sticky brown sugar variant is the mixture that comes out of the crystallising pan. The liquid molasses remaining after this first boiling and removal of the crystallised sugar is called a 'light molasses'. When boiled again, the molasses remaining is called a 'dark molasses'. After a third boiling the remaining molasses is called 'blackstrap molasses'. This is normally used as cattle food and alcohol. The darker sugarcane jaggery is produced from these later boilings.

    Types of sugar :
    • The nearly pure sugar crystal formed by the crystallisation process is covered by a thin film of molasses which is not stable in storage, and needs to be further purified to yield the stable, pure sweet sugar. Centrifuges are used to drain the molasses off from the sucrose crystals in the first stage. It is further refined to produce white sugar crystals. See 'How Sugar is Refined' http://www.sucrose.com/lref.html and 'Growing and For the different types of sugars see 'Cook's Thesaurus:Sugar' http://www.foodsubs.com/Sweeten.html. The size of the crystal determines the refined sugar's use:
      • Standard white granulated sugar.
      • Confectioner's/Icing/Powdered sugar - pulverised, and usually with about 3% cornstarch to prevent lumping.
      • Superfine/Ultrafine/Castor sugar - finely granulated. Dissolves well in cold water.
    • Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallisable sugars as well as some remnant sucrose. In England, molasses is called treacle. The sucrose remaining in the molasses can be inverted to produce a honey-like syrup containing glucose and fructose which ensures that crystallisation does not occur during storage.
    • Raw sugar is approximately 96-98% sucrose. Unrefined or partially refined natural sugars tend to vary in color and have many names depending on their country of origin:
    • Demerara (UK) - golden brown crystal sugar from first step of refinement (not moist)
    • Raw sugar (n Australia) - golden crystal sugar similar to Demerara (not moist)
    • Turbinado - light brown sugar (not moist)
    • Muscovado - dark brown sugar made by crystallising dark syrups (not moist)
    • (Moist brown sugars these days are produced by adding molasses to refined sugar.)
    • Beet sugar is derived from sugar beets and is also pure sucrose like cane sugar.
    • Beet sugar molasses though is not used for human consumption.
    • Palm sugar is similar to sugarcane jaggery or gur and is produced from the sap of palms, including the coconut palm.
    • Golden Syrup is made from thickened cane syrup which is partially inverted.
    • Light and Dark Treacles are made from partially inverted light and dark molasses.
    Rum may be made from either fresh cane juice, cane syrup, or from molasses.

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