MANUFACTURING PROCESS AND TECHNOLOGY
Sugar (sucrose) is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable. It is a major product of photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform the sun’s energy into food. Sugar occurs in greatest quantities in sugarcane and sugar beets from which it is separated for commercial use. The natural sugar stored in the cane stalk or beet root is separated from rest of the plant material through a process known as refining.
For sugarcane, the process of refining is carried out in following steps:
- Pressing of sugarcane to extract the juice
- Boiling the juice until it begins to thicken and sugar begins to crystallize.
- Spinning the crystals in a centrifuge to remove the syrup, producing raw sugar.
- Shipping the raw sugar to a refinery where it is washed and filtered to remove remaining non-sugar ingredients and color.
- Crystallizing, drying and packaging the refined sugar.
Beet sugar processing is similar, but it is done in one continuous process without the raw sugar stage. The sugar beets are washed, sliced and soaked in hot water to separate the sugar -containing juice from the beet fiber. The sugar-laden juice is then purified, filtered, concentrated and dried in a series of steps similar to cane sugar processing.
For the sugar industry, capacity utilization is conceptually different from that applicable to industries in general. It depends on three crucial factors the actual number of ton of sugarcane crushed in a day, the recovery rate which generally depends on the quality of the cane and actual length of the crushing season.
Since cane is not transported to any great extent, the quality of the cane that a factory receives depends on its location and is outside its control. The length of the crushing season also depends upon location.
Granulated: Granulated sugar is the pure crystalline sucrose. It can be classified into seven types of sugar based on the crystal size. Most of these are used only by food processors and professional bakers. Each crystal size provides unique functional characteristics that make the sugar appropriate for the food processor’s special need.
TYPES OF SUGAR
There are many different types of granulated sugar. Most of these are used only by food processors and professional bakers and are not available in the supermarket. The types of granulated sugars differ in crystal size. Each crystal size provides unique functional characteristics that make the sugar appropriate for the food processor’s special need.
"Regular" Sugar, Extra Fine or Fine Sugar
“Regular” sugar, as it is known to consumers, is the sugar found in every home’s sugar bowl and most commonly used in home food preparation. It is the white sugar called for in most cookbook recipes. The food processing industry describes “regular” sugar as extra fine or fine sugar. It is the sugar most used by food processors because of its fine crystals that are ideal for bulk handling and are not susceptible to caking.
Fruit sugar is slightly finer than “regular” sugar and is used in dry mixes such as gelatin desserts, pudding mixes and drink mixes. Fruit sugar has a more uniform crystal size than “regular” sugar. The uniformity of crystal size prevents separation or settling of smaller crystals to the bottom of the box, an important quality in dry mixes and drink mixes.
Bakers Specials crystal size is even finer than that of fruit sugar. As its name suggests, it was developed specially for the baking industry. Bakers Special is used for sugaring doughnuts and cookies as well as in some commercial cakes to produce fine crumb texture.
Superfine, Ultra fine, or Bar Sugar
This sugar’s crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for extra fine textured cakes and meringues, as well as for sweetening fruits and iced-drinks since it dissolves easily. In England, a sugar very similar to superfine sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged.
Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar
This sugar is granulated sugar ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. It contains about 3% corn starch to prevent caking. Confectioner’s sugar is available in three grades ground to different degrees of fineness. The confectioner’s sugar available in supermarkets is the finest of the three and is used in icings, confections and whipping cream. The other two types of powdered sugar are used by industrial bakers.
The crystal size of coarse sugar is larger than that of “regular” sugar. Coarse sugar is normally processed from the purest sugar liquor. This processing method makes coarse sugar highly resistant to color change or Inversion (natural breakdown to fructose and glucose) at high temperatures. These characteristics are important in making fondants, confections and liquors.
Another large crystal sugar, sanding sugar, is used mainly in the baking and confectionery industries to sprinkle on top of baked goods. The large crystals reflect light and give the product a sparkling appearance.
Brown Sugar (Light and Dark)
Brown sugar consists of sugar crystals coated in molasses syrup with natural flavor and color. Many sugar refiners produce brown sugar by boiling a special molasses syrup until brown sugar crystals form. A centrifuge spins the crystals dry. Some of the syrup remains giving the sugar its brown color and molasses flavor. Other manufacturers produce brown sugar by blending special molasses syrup with white sugar crystals. Dark brown sugar has more color and a stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Lighter types are generally used in baking and making butterscotch, condiments and glazes. Dark brown sugar has a rich flavor that is good for gingerbread, mincemeat, baked beans, plum pudding and other full flavored foods.
Brown Sugars - Turbinado Sugar
This sugar is a raw sugar which has been partially processed, removing some of the surface molasses. It is a blond color with a mild brown sugar flavor and is often used in tea.
Free Flowing Brown Sugars
These sugars are fine, powder-like brown sugars that are less moist than “regular” brown sugar. Since it is less moist it does not lump and is free-flowing like granulated white sugar.
Popular in England, Demerara sugar is a light brown sugar with large golden crystals which are slightly sticky. It is often used in tea, coffee or on top of hot cereals.
Liquid sugars were developed before today’s methods of sugar processing made transport and handling granulated sugars practical. There are several types of liquid sugar. Liquid sucrose (sugar) is essentially liquid granulated sugar and can be used in products wherever dissolved granulated sugar might be used. Amber liquid sucrose (sugar) is darker in color and can be used where the cane sugar flavor is desirable and the non-sugars are not a problem in the product.
Inversion or chemical breakdown of sucrose results in invert sugar, an equal mixture of glucose and fructose. Available commercially only in liquid form, invert sugar is sweeter than granulated sugar. One form of liquid invert was specially developed for the carbonated beverage industry and can be used only in liquid products. This liquid sugar is actually part invert sugar combined with part dissolved granulated sugar. Another type, named total invert sugar syrup, is commercially processed and is almost completely invert sugar. It is used mainly in food products to retard crystallization of sugar and retain moisture.
SUGAR AND HEALTH: SUGAR HAS MEDICAL VALUE
Sugar For Oral Re-hydration
Sugar is extremely valuable in treatment of severe infantile diarrhea, a serious problem that kills around 3.5 million children in a year in underdeveloped countries. Oral re-hydration treatment (restoring of liquids by mouth) is used for infants with diarrhea due to cholera or re-hydrating viruses. It is simpler and easier to mix sugar with salt to treat de-hydration children even in the most remote areas. Further studies prove that oral sucrose was an effective as intravenous treatment in retaining re-hydration.
Sugar Heals Wounds
Sugar has tremendous healing power. Sugar helps in wiping out infections in all types of wounds and speed up the healing time as well. Fills up sugar in the open wounds and it dissolves in tissue where micro organism cannot survive.
Sugar is the Best Carrier of Vitamin E, A and Minerals
Vitamin A deficiency in South American population is being combated successfully with the use of fortified sugar. Encouraged by the results, fortification of sugar with vitamin A is being attempted to combat vitamin A as well as mineral (iron) deficiencies a major area of concern in some of the developing countries.
Sugar an important food also commonly known as sucrose is white crystalline substance, tastes sweet, a carbohydrate and 100% soluble in water. Raw Sugar is made in refineries by juicing cane sugar or beet root. Unrefined Raw Sugar is obtained by boiling the juice. Further refining of the raw sugar will produce Refined Sugar.