Sugar cubes are cane sugar formed into blocks, instead of loose grains (granulated sugar). They are old-fashioned but still stylish. Photo by Melhi | IST.
Last Updated April 2012
How Sweet It Is: A Glossary Of All
Of Sugar & Syrup
Page 1: Brown Sugar & Other Types
Beginning With A & B
Who knew there were so many sugars...or syrups? One thing’s for sure...if you want a sweet life, there are plenty of products to sweeten it. Here’s a comprehensive glossary of all types of sugar. If you’d like to suggest additional words for inclusion in our dictionary of sugar and syrup terms and definitions, use the Contact Us form on this page.
For a look at a sugar specialty company, check out the U.K.’s Billington’s. You also may be interested in our article and glossary on sugar substitutes, and our many other delicious food glossaries.
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Agave syrup comes from the sap of several different succulents grown commercially in Mexico; one, the blue agave, is also used to make tequila. It is about 25% sweeter than sugar, and because of its composition, 90% fructose/10% sucrose, it has a low glycemic index score, about half that of sugar, which means it affects blood sugar levels less dramatically than regular sugar (or honey or maple syrup). It also contains trace minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Read more about agave.
See muscovado sugar.
Organic Nectars agave nectar. Photo by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE.
BARLEY MALT SYRUP or BARLEY SYRUP
Made from soaked and sprouted barley, which is then dried and cooked down to a syrup, barley malt syrup tastes a bit like molasses. It’s not as sweet as sugar or honey. It also has a high percentage of maltose, which gives it a low glycemic index score. Mostly used in beer-making and bread-baking, barley syrup tastes a bit like molasses and rice syrup, which can be substituted for it (use 2/3 cup molasses). See also rice syrup.
See superfine sugar.
BAR SYRUP or SIMPLE SYRUP or SUGAR SYRUP
A mixture of equal parts of sugar and hot water, made by gradually stirring one pound of granulated sugar into 13 ounces of water over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes syrupy. Created because granulated syrup would not dissolve easily in bar drinks, it is used in mixed drinks, as well as cooking. Because granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold drinks, an effective sweetener is used in syrup form.
An unrefined sugar popular in Asia. It is almost black in color. Black sugar is used in recipes, as candy (eat a chunk!) and in tea.
Sugar derived from sugar beets. See sugar beet.
Superfine or ultrafine sugar.
A sweetener made from the sap of birch trees, much the same way as maple syrup. It is used for pancake or waffle syrup, to make candies, as an ingredient in sauces, glazes, and dressings, and as a flavoring in ice cream, beer, wine and soft drinks.
BROWN RICE SYRUP or RICE SYRUP
A low-glycemic syrup (its complex sugars are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream) that’s about half as sweet as table sugar. Also called rice bran syrup and rice malt.
Brown sugar is not a natural sugar product like raw, brown-colored sugars; it is white sugar (sucrose) with some of the molasses added back in. Raw sugar is naturally brown (and called unrefined or natural brown sugar and represented by demerara, muscovado and turbinado sugars). During the refining process, the molasses in the sugar is spun off into a separate product (molasses is considered a by-product of sugar refining). Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5% molasses (dark brown sugar). The product is naturally moist from the hygroscopic nature of the molasses; however, after the package is opened, the moisture begins to evaporate unless it is kept in an airtight jar.
Light brown sugar. Photo by Matteo Pescarin | SXC.
If it hardens, it can be softened in the microwave, or by the old-fashioned technique of adding an apple wedge to the bag and waiting a few days for the sugar to soften. A substitution for dark brown sugar can be made at home by mixing one tablespoon of molasses per cup of white sugar, blending thoroughly; to make light brown sugar use between one and two teaspoons of molasses per cup of white sugar. The ingredients can be added to a recipe without mixing them. Substituting brown sugar for white sugar in recipes adds moisture and a hint of caramel flavor.
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