CULINARY SUGARS 3
SUGAR’S EFFECT ON YOUR HEALTH 5
SUGAR DEPRESSES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM 6
HOW CANE SUGAR IS MADE – THE BASIC STORY 7
The English word “sugar” may ultimately originate from the Sanskrit word sharkara or sarkara, which means “sugar” or “pebble”. It probably came to English by way of the French, Spanish and/or Italians who derived their word for sugar from the Arabic al sukkar (whence the Portuguese word aзucar, the Spanish word azъcar, the Italian word zucchero, the Old French word zuchre and the contemporary Frrench word sucre). The Arabs in turn presumably derived their word from the Persian shakar, derived from the original Sanskrit.
Note that the English word jaggery (coarse brown Indian sugar) has similar ultimate etymological origins. * 1PRODUCTION
The first production of sugar from sugar-cane took place in India.. Alexander the Great companions reported seeing “honey produced without the intervention of bees” and it remained exotic in Europe until the Arabs started cultivating it in Sicily and Spain. Only after the Crusades did itt begin to rival honey as the sweetener in Europe. The Spanish began cultivating sugar-cane in the West Indies in 1506, and in Cuba in 1523. The Portuguese first cultivated sugar-cane in Brazil in 1532.
Table sugar or sucrose comes from plant sources. Tw
Most cane sugar comes from countries with warm climates, such as Brazil India China and Australia (in descending order of production). In 2001/2002 developing countries produced over twice as much sugar as developed countries. The greatest quantity of sugar comes from Latin America, the United States the Caribbean nations, and the Far East.
Beet sugar comes from regions with cooler climates: northwest and eaastern Europe, northern Japan, plus some areas in the United States including California. The beet-growing season ends with the start of harvesting around September. Harvesting and processing continues until March in some cases. The availability of processing-plant capacity, and the weather both influence the duration of harvesting and processing – the industry can lay up harvested beet until processed, but frost-damaged beet becomes effectively unprocessable.
The European Union (EU) has become the world’s second-largest sugar exporter. The Common Agricultural Policy the EU se
The U.S. sets high sugar prices to support its producers, with the effect that many former consumers of sugar have switched to corn syrup (beverage-manufacturers) or moved out of the country (candy-makers).
The cheap prices of glucose syrups produced from wheat and corn (maize) threaten the traditional sugar market. In combination with artificial sweeteners ,drink manufacturers can produce very low-cost products. * 1CULINARY SUGARS
Raw sugars comprise yellow to brown sugars made from clarified cane-juice boiled down to a crystalline solid with minimal chemical processing. Raw sugars result from the processing of sugar-beet juice, but only as intermediates en route to white sugar. Types of raw sugar available as a specialty item outside the tropics include Demerara, muscovite, and turbinate. Mauritius and Malawi export significant quantities of such specialty su
Mill white sugar, also called plantation white, crystal sugar, or superior sugar, consists of raw sugar where the production process does not remove coloured impurities, but rather bleaches them white by exposure to sulphur dioxide. This is the most common form of sugar in sugarcane growing areas, but does not store or ship well; after a few weeks, its impurities tend to promote discoloration and clumping.
Blanco direct, a white sugar common in India and other south Asian countries, comes from precipitating many impurities out of the cane juice by using phosphatation — a treatment with phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide similar to the carbonization technique used in beet-sugar refining. In terms of sucrose purity, blanc direct is more pure than mill white, but less pure than white refined sugar.
White refined sugar has become the most common form of sugar in North America as well as in Eu
Granulated sugar comes in various crystal sizes — for home and industrial use — depending on the application:
• Coarse-grained sugars, such as sanding sugar (nabbed sugar or sugar nibs) find favour for decorating cookies (biscuits) and other desserts.
• Normal granulated sugars for table use: typically they have a grain size about 0.5 mm across
• Finer grades result from selectively sieving the granulated sugar
• caster sugar (0.35 mm), commonly used in baking
• superfine sugar, also called baker’s sugar, berry sugar, or bar sugar — favoured for sweetening drinks or for preparing meringue
• Finest grades
• Powdered sugar, 10X sugar, confectioner’s sugar (0.060 mm), or icing sugar (0.024 mm), produced by grinding sugar to a fine powder. The manufacturer may add a small amount of anti-caking agent to prevent clumping — either cornstarch (1% to 3%) or tri-calcium phosphate.
Retailers also sell sugar cubes or lumps for convenient consumption of a standardised amount.
Brown sugars derive from the late stages of sugar refining, when sugar forms fine crystals with significant molasses-content, or by coating white refined sugar with a cane molasses syrup .Their colour and taste become stronger with increasing molasses-content, as do their moisture-retaining properties. Brown sugars also tend to harden if exposed to the atmosphere, although proper handling can reverse this. * 1HISTORY
The process of making sugar by evaporating juice from sugarcane developed in India around 500 BC. Sugarcane, a tropical grass, probably originated in New Guinea. During prehistoric times its culture spread throughout the Pacific Islands and into India. By 200 BC producers in China had begun to grow it too. Westerners learned of sugarcane in the course of military expeditions into India. Inarches, one of Alexander the Great’s commanders, described it as “a reed that gives honey without bees”.
Originally, people chewed the cane raw to extract its sweetness. Sugar refining developed in the Middle East India and China, where sugar became a staple of cooking and desserts Early refining methods involved grinding or pounding the cane in order to extract the juice, and then boiling down the juice or drying it in the sun to yield sugary solids that resembled gravel. The Sanskrit word for “sugar” (shirkers), also means “gravel”. Similarly, the Chinese use the term “gravel sugar” (Traditional Chinese) for table sugar. Sugar later spread to other areas of the world through trade. * 1SUGAR’S EFFECT ON YOUR HEALTH
The average American consumes an astounding 2-3 pounds of sugar each week, which is not surprising considering that highly refined sugars in the forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are being processed into so many foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and a plethora of microwave meals. In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown in the early 1900’s.
The “glycolic index” is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food being assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the absorption and digestion process, which provides a more gradual, healthier infusion of sugars into the bloodstream. On the other hand, a high rating means that blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. These rapid fluctuations of blood-sugar levels are not healthy because of the stress they place on the body.
One of sugar’s major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease. An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body’s blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you’re making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Complex carbohydrates tend to be absorbed more slowly, lessening the impact on blood-sugar levels. * 2SUGAR DEPRESSES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
We have known this for decades. It was only in the 1970’s that researchers found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocyte viruses and bacteria. White blood cells require a 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C.
There is something called a “phagocyte index” which tells you how rapidly a particular macrophage or lymphocyte can gobble up a virus, bacteria, or cancer cell. It was in the 1970’s that Linus Pauling realized that white blood cells need a high dose of vitamin C and that is when he came up with his theory that you need high doses of vitamin C to combat the common cold We know that glucose and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, so what happens when the sugar levels go up? They compete for one another upon entering the cells. And the thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. It doesn’t take much: a blood sugar value of 120 reduces the phagocyte index by 75%. So when you eat sugar, think of your immune system slowing down to a crawl. Here we are getting a little bit closer to the roots of disease. It doesn’t matter what disease we are talking about, whether we are talking about a common cold or about cardiovascular disease, or cancer or osteoporosis, the root is always going to be at the cellular and molecular level, and more often than not insulin is going to have its hand in it, if not totally controlling it.
The health dangers which ingesting sugar on an habitual basis creates are certain. Simple sugars have been observed to aggravate asthma, move mood swings, provoke personality changes, muster mental illness, nourish nervous disorders, deliver diabetes, hurry heart disease, grow gallstones, hasten hypertension, and add arthritis. Because refined dietary sugars lack minerals and vitamins, they must draw upon the body’s micro-nutrient stores in order to be metabolized into the system. When these storehouses are depleted, destabilization of cholesterol and fatty acid is impeded, contributing to higher blood serum triglycerides, cholesterol, promoting obesity due to higher fatty acid storage around organs and in sub-coetaneous tissue folds. Because sugar is devoid of minerals, vitamins, fibber, and has such a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system, major researchers and major health organizations (American Dietetic Association and American Diabetic Association) agree that sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.
A good source of supplies for diabetics is diabeticdrugstore.com. They offer healthy eating diabetic food, hard to find sugar free candy and medical alert jewellery for diabetes care.*2
HONEY IS A SIMPLE SUGAR
There are 4 classes of simple sugars which are regarded by most nutritionists as “harmful” to optimal health when prolonged consumption in amounts above 15% of the carbohydrate calories are ingested: Sucrose, fructose, honey, and malts.
Some of you may be surprised to find honey here. Although honey is a natural sweetener, it is considered a refined sugar because 96% of dry matter are simple sugars: fructose, glucose and sucrose. It is little wonder that the honey bear is the only animal found in nature with a problem with tooth-decay (honey decays teeth faster than table sugar). Honey has the highest calorie content of all sugars with 65 calories/tablespoon, compared to the 48 calories/tablespoon found in table sugar. The increased calories are bound to cause increased blood serum fatty acids, as well as weight gain, on top of the risk of more cavities. * 2HOW CANE SUGAR IS MADE – THE BASIC STORY
Growing the Cane
Sugar cane is a sub-tropical and tropical crop that prefers lots of sun and lots of water – provided that its roots are not waterlogged. It typically takes about 12 months to reach maturity although the time varies widely around the world from as short as six months in Louisiana to 24 months in some places. Where it differs from many crops is that it re-grows from the roots so the plant lasts many cycles [or ‘racoons’, a word derived from the Spanish to sprout] before it is worn out. *3
Sugar cane is harvested by chopping down the stems but leaving the roots so that it re-grows in time for the next crop. Harvest times tend to be during the dry season and the length of the harvest ranges from as little as 2 ½ months up to 11 months. The cane is taken to the factory: often by truck or rail wagon but sometimes on a cart pulled by a bullock or a donkey! *3
The first stage of processing is the extraction of the cane juice. In many factories the cane is crushed in a series of large roller mills: similar to a mangle [wringer] which was used to squeeze the water out of clean washing a century ago. The sweet juice comes gushing out and the cane fibre is carried away for use in the boilers. In other factories a diffuser is used as is described for beet sugar manufacture. Either way the juice is pretty dirty: the soil from the fields, some small fibres and the green extracts from the plant are all mixed in with the sugar. *3
The factory can clean up the juice quite easily with slaked lime (a relative of chalk) which settles out a lot of the dirt so that it can be sent back to the fields. Once this is done, the juice is thickened up into a syrup by boiling off the water using steam in a process called evaporation. Sometimes the syrup is cleaned up again but more often it just goes on to the crystal-making step without any more cleaning. The evaporation is undertaken in order to improve the energy efficiency of the factory. *3
The syrup is placed into a very large pan for boiling, the last stage. In the pan even more water is boiled off until conditions are right for sugar crystals to grow. You may have done something like this at school but probably not with sugar because it is difficult to get the crystals to grow well. In the factory the workers usually have to throw in some sugar dust to initiate crystal formation. Once the crystals have grown the resulting mixture of crystals and mother liquor is spun in centrifuges to separate the two, rather like washing is spin dried. The crystals are then given a final dry with hot air before being stored ready for despatch. *3
The final raw sugar forms a sticky brown mountain in the store and looks rather like the soft brown sugar found in domestic kitchens. It could be used like that but usually it gets dirty in storage and has a distinctive taste which most people don’t want. That is why it is refined when it gets to the country where it will be used. Additionally, because one cannot get all the sugar out of the juice, there is a sweet by-product made: molasses. This is usually turned into a cattle food or is sent to a distillery where alcohol is made. *3
So what happened to all that fibre from crushing the sugar cane? It is called “biogases” in the industry. The factory needs electricity and steam to run, both of which are generated using this fibre. The biogases is burnt in large furnaces where a lot of heat is given out which can be used in turn to boil water and make high pressure steam. The steam is then used to drive a turbine in order to make electricity and create low pressure steam for the sugar making process. This is the same process that makes most of our electricity but there are several important differences.
When a large power station produces electricity it burns a fossil fuel [once used, a fuel that cannot be replaced] which contaminates the atmosphere and the station has to dump a lot of low. grade heat. All this contributes to global warming. In the cane sugar factory the biogases fuel is renewable and the gases it produces, essentially CO2, are more than used up by the new cane growing. Add to that the factory use of low grade heat [a system called co-generation] and one can see that a well run cane sugar estate is environmentally friendly. *3REFERENCES