Modern Sugar Refining

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Today, sugar is produced by somewhat different means. Because most sugarcane has been grown in colonies or developing countries, and sugar refining requires expensive machinery, cane sugar production came to be divided into two stages: the crystallization of raw, unrefined sugar in factories near the plantations; and refining into white sugar in industrial countries that are the major consumers. Sugar beets, on the other hand, are a temperate crop, grown mainly in Europe and North America, so they are processed all the way to refined sugar in a single factory. Harvested sugarcane is very perishable and must be processed immediately; sugar beets may be stored for weeks to months before they are processed into sugar.