Sugars, Unrefined

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sugars, unrefined —sometimes called raw sugars—are produced by boiling the juice from sugarcane, sugar beet, sorghum, maple, or palm sap to the point of crystallization. See stages of sugar syrup. Once cooled and solidified, the resulting sugar is usually brown, because molasses adheres to the crystals. See molasses. However, depending on the manufacturing process, the sugar may be lighter or almost white in color. Modern sugarcane mills produce an off-white raw sugar—sometimes called turbinado, muscovado, demerara, or rapadura sugar—while more rudimentary techniques result in a wider range of colors because they are less efficient at removing molasses and impurities. See sugar and sugar refining. Refining refers to the process by which the remaining molasses particles are removed from the sugar crystals in order to make a perfectly white sugar. During the nineteenth century, sugar was refined by remelting the raw sugar, mixing it with lime, skimming off impurities, and finally filtering it through charcoal, sometimes of animal origin. In the twentieth century, non-animal forms of charcoal have become increasingly common. Soft brown sugars commonly used in cooking are not necessarily unrefined but may in fact be refined sugar with molasses added for color, flavor, and to increase the moisture content.