Granulated, raw, powdered, brown: can you distinguish the differences among all these types of sugars?
It's no secret that we at HuffPost Taste have a serious love affair with sugar. We'll eat dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you let us. (Carrot cake counts as breakfast, guys. You know it's true.) As self-proclaimed sugar freaks, we feel it's our duty to understand the different types of sugar and clarify them for all of you. This way you'll never wonder when to use a certain kind of sugar and question whether you can substitute something. In other words, your desserts will be perfect, which means life will be worth living.
To understand the basic distinctions between the different types of sugar, you must first understand how sugar is made. The sugar we use as sweetener comes from juice extracted from plants that naturally have a high amount of sugar: sugar beets and sugarcane. The juice is purified and filtered, then boiled down and crystallized. A byproduct of the crystallization process is the liquid sugar we call molasses. To separate the crystals from the liquid, the sugar is put in a centrifuge. The result is basically raw sugar (with a light brown tint), which is further refined by clarification using chemicals to bleach the color. Now you have white refined sugar, or the granulated sugar you buy at the grocery store.
Regular granulated white sugar isn't the only type of sugar that's made in this process. First comes the byproduct of molasses, which is great for baking. After that, other sugars in varying shades from light brown to very dark brown are made before you get highly processed white sugar. Here's your guide to seven types of sugar that you should know about, if you claim to be a serious sweet tooth like us:
(Note: We're only focusing on types of solid sugar here -- no liquids, like molasses. See here if you're curious about what molasses really is.)