Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Sucrose is the scientific name for table sugar. It is a composite molecule made of one molecule each of glucose and fructose. Green plants produce sucrose in the process of photosynthesis, and we extract it from the stalks of sugar cane and the storage stems of sugar beets. Of all the common sugars, it has the most useful combination of properties. It is the second sweetest, after fructose, but is alone in having a pleasant taste even at the very high concentrations found in candies and preserves; other sugars can seem harsh. Sucrose is also the second most soluble sugar—two parts can dissolve in one part of room-temperature water— and it produces the greatest viscosity, or thickness, in a water solution. Sucrose begins to melt around 320°F/160°C, and caramelizes at around 340°F/170°C.