New World Sugar

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
Sugarcane was brought to the Western Hemisphere from La Gomera in the Canary Islands by Columbus on his second voyage in 1493. Columbus was familiar with the plant because his mother-in-law owned a sugarcane plantation in Madeira. Cane flourished on Hispaniola, and in his diaries Columbus remarks on the abundance of the harvest, although at that time there seems to have been no attempt made to cultivate it on a large scale. Small backyard plots were established in numerous locations—so many that when future colonists arrived, they thought the plant was native to the region.