What is sugar?
Granulated sugar, table sugar and sucrose are all names for the same substance, which we commonly call sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate.
The chemical name for sugar is sucrose. A sucrose molecule is made up of two sugar molecules: glucose and fructose. Sucrose is found in vegetables, fruits and honey, as well as in sugar beets and sugarcane. In the Netherlands, sugar factories extract sugar from sugar beets by means of water extraction.
This is the most common type of sugar. It is usually made from sugar beets, but can also be made from sugarcane or sugar palm. The sugar is extracted from the beets and this sugar juice undergoes a complete manufacturing process, called refining, which removes many substances from the sugar.
Daarna wordt het zover ingekookt dat er bruine suikerkristallen ontstaan. De suikerstroop wordt van de witte suikerkristallen gescheiden. De witte suikerkristallen worden voldoende gedroogd en gemalen tot grove, normale of fijne kristalsuiker. Kristalsuiker is dus een geraffineerde suiker.
This sugar is made from sugarcane. The juice of the sugarcane in cooked, crystallised and sieved in a process similar to the steps in the process for beet sugar. In addition to normal white sugar cane, there is also light-brown (brown sugar) and dark-brown sugar, depending on the quality of molasses added. There is also less refined sugar on the market, but normal brown sugar in the Netherlands is white crystallised sugar with molasses added to give it the brown colour.
To make powdered sugar, the sugar granules are completely milled. To somewhat enhance the effect of powder, starch is sometimes added.
This is a combination of finely milled granulated sugar and invert sugar syrup (a sugar made of 50/50 glucose/grape sugar and fructose/fruit sugar). You can get castor sugar in a white, yellow or brown variation. The coloured variants contain caramel or molasses/sugar syrup.
This is a sugar extracted from various palm trees, including the coconut palm. This sugar comes mainly from Asia, for example from Thailand or Indonesia. Just like with panela, the sugar syrup is boiled, therefore palm sugar is also an unrefined sugar type. In Indonesia, it is often produced in small quantities and you can get it in various thickness/hardness depending on how long it is boiled. This sugar too has a light spicy and caramel taste.