Simple SyrupSimple syrup is used for sweet cocktails. Sanding sugar can be used to decorate the rim. Photo courtesy Stirrings.



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November 2006

Last Updated Mayl 2018

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Honeys, Sugars & Syrups

Types Of Sugar List: A Glossary Of
Sugar & Syrup Types

Page 6: Simple Syrup (Sugar Syrup) & Other Terms
With S



This is Page 6 of a seven-page glossary, a types of sugar list. Click on the black links below to visit other pages. And find many more food glossaries—learn more about your favorite foods.

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A coarse sugar, granulated sugar processed to have larger granules that sparkle, for use on cookies, cupcakes, candies (most famously, Marshmallow Peeps), sweet breads and other baked goods. It is made in white as well as a rainbow of colors.
Sanding sugars available from



Simple syrup is used in cocktails instead of granulated sugar (even superfine sugar), which does not dissolve well in cold liquids. There are many flavored sugar syrups on the market. You can flavor your own with vanilla, liqueur, etc. for drinks, to brush on cake for more flavor and to sweeten tea and coffee—iced or hot. Here’s a simple syrup recipe so you can make your own. See also bar syrup.



Sorghum is a grain similar to corn that makes a syrup similar to molasses that is popular in the southern United States. It is used as a condiment as well as in recipes instead of molasses.


Sparkling sugar adds sparkling beauty, crunch and a touch of sweetness to cakes, cookies, muffins, quick breads, scones and sweet breads. They can be added to pie crust as well. The large-grained sugar won’t melt and disappear as it bakes.

A term given to all of the sugars beyond the traditional supermarket types (brown, cube, confectioner’s, granulated and superfine sugars). These include the raw sugars such as demerara, muscovado and turbinado; decorated sugar cubes; and other products.


Sparkling sugar from King Arthur Flour.



Spun sugar turns granulated sugar, corn syrup and water into gossamer threads that are used to decorate cakes, pastries and other desserts. The firm, slender strands are like crunchy caramel candy in the mouth.



In the U.K. and Ireland, this is a concentrated, usually fruit-based, syrup to which water is added to produce a drink of the same name. Apple, blackcurrant, lemon, lime and orange are popular flavors, followed by kiwi, peach and strawberry. (In the West Indies “squash” refers to a lime juice drink, similar to lemonade.)

  Spun Sugar

Spun sugar atop a layer cake. Photo courtesy Birthday Cakes | Rizzoli.



An herb native to Paraguay that is naturally sweet and has been used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer for centuries. It is non-caloric and the number-one artificial sweetener in Japan. In the U.S. it is officially labeled a “dietary supplement” due to lobbying by the artificial sweetener industry. Like saccharine and some other sweeteners, stevia is available liquid, tablets and packets of powder. in Learn more about artificial sweeteners.


Powdered stevia from the makers of Sugar In The Raw.



Non-refined cane sugar, i.e. unrefined natural sugar, that has not had the molasses removed from it (which would make it refined white sugar). It is essentially pure dried (dehydrated) sugar cane juice. Sucanat is generally accepted as a substitute for brown sugar. Unlike regular brown sugar, sucanat is grainy instead of crystalline. It ia also known as granulated sugar cane juice. The name sucanat is a truncated form of sugar cane natural. It is often found as an organic product.

Sucanat available from



Ordinary table sugar, extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets.



While many people think of “sugar” as the granulated white powder in the photo, made from dried sugar cane juice, there are numerous caloric sweeteners made from corn, fruit, grains and other plants. The calories and glycemic index can be similar, so don’t think they “aren’t sugar.” Look on package labels for these white sugar substitutes: barley malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, cane juice, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, caster sugar, corn syrup or any syrup (date, golden, etc.), corn syrup solids, crystals (coconut, cane juice, etc.), date sugar, dextran, dextrose, diastase, diastatic malt, fructose, fruit concentrate, fruit juice, fruit sugar, glucose or glucose solids, golden sugar or syrup, grape juice concentrate, grape sugar, high fructose c corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, isomalt, juice concentrate, maltodextrin, maltose, malt syrup, maple flakes, maple sugar, molasses, muscovado, natural sugar, palm sugar, panelo, piloncillo, rapadura, raw sugar, sucanat, sucrose, table sugar and turbinado.


Some, like agave, have a much lower calories and glycemic index


Sugar alcohols like erythritol, maltitol and mannitol have fewer calories and GI index, because they are not absorbed by the intestines. They do  have side effects when consumed in quantity.




Granulated sugar, a.k.a. cane sugar, table sugar and white sugar. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.


Maple flakes are dried maple syrup, a crunchy format to granulated maple sugar. Photo Decacer.

So if you’re looking to cut back on sugar, remember: It doesn’t have to be called “sugar” to be a caloric sweetener. You can buy a jar of jelly labeled “sugar free,” only to find that it has been sweetened with grape juice concentrate.



While the sugar beet is thought to have supplied sugar to much of Europe for some time, it is a relatively recent sweetener: Since the dawn of man, the Western world has relied primarily on honey. Beets have been cultivated since antiquity, but only around 1590 did a French botanist extract a sweet syrup from beetroot. It was not widely adapted, and shortly after, cane sugar began to arrive from the Caribbean. In 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars, the British began a blockade of France, preventing the import of cane sugar, among other goods; in 1812, a sugar extraction process for beets was developed that was suitable for industrial application.


Sugar beet. Photo courtesy Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An unrefined sugary syrup with the consistency of honey, produced from sugar beet mash. In Germany, particularly the Rhineland area, it is used as a spread for sandwiches as well as a sweetener for sauces, cakes and desserts.


A grove of sugar maple trees used for maple syrup or maple sugar.



A bamboo-like segmented stalk that grows 8 to 24 feet high, its sap is the chief source of sugar. Sugar cane is a tall Southeast Asian grass that grows in tropical climates (Asia, Africa and South America), whereas the sugar beet has its origin in the temperate climates (Europe and North America). Three species appear to have originated in two locations: Saccharum barberi in the Ganges Delta of India, and Saccharum edule and Saccharum officinarum on the island of New Guinea.


To get sugar, the cane is crushed, producing cane juice, which is clarified and concentrated through heating and evaporation. The raw sugar crystals are separated from the remaining syrup (molasses) by centrifuge. Chemicals are used to remove impurities, whiten the product, and crystallize it into the perfect size. In the end, what began as 14% sucrose is now 99% to 100% sucrose, or table sugar.


The History Of Sugar

Since the 4th century B.C.E., it was widely used in India and China. References as far back as the 12th century (the Sanskrit epic of Ramayana, circa 1200 B.C.E. describes syrup and chewing on the stalks to enjoy the sweetness.


Refined sugar appears around 500 B.C.E., when residents of what is now India began to make sugar syrup from the cane juice. They cooled it to make crystals that were easier to store and transport. These crystals were called khanda, which is the source of the word candy. Indian sailors carried sugar along various trade routes.

In 326 B.C.E., Alexander the Great and his troops saw farmers on the Indian subcontinent growing sugar cane and making the crystals, which were called by another name, sharkara, pronounced as saccharum. The Macedonian soldiers carried “honey bearing reeds” home with them.


Sugar Cane
Sugar cane. Photo by Ivana De Battisti | SXC.


Photo courtesy Smart Fertilizer.


Cut sugar cane. Photo courtesy Genetic Literacy Project.



Darius The Great of Persia (549-485 B.C.E.) brought cane back to Persia from the Indus Valley, and it was cultivated in Persia. But sugar cane remained a little known crop to most Europeans for the next thousand years, a rare and costly product that made sugar traders wealthy.


Sugar expanded to the West through Arab trade with the East in the 8th century C.E. The Arabs brought sugar to Europe through Spain, and the first Spanish explorers carried it to the New World.


In the 12th century, Crusaders in the Holy Land encountered caravans carrying the “sweet salt,” which they brought back to Europe. The Republic of Venice began to produce sugar in Lebanon to supply Europe, where honey had been the only available sweetener (beet sugar was not isolated until 1747). By the 15th century, Venice was the chief sugar refining and distribution center in Europe.


Around 1500, sugar plantations were begun in the Canary Islands and the West Indies. Prior to the introduction of sugar, the only sweetener was honey (maple syrup was known to a Native American population and agave to the native Mexican populations, but few others had tried them).


As an alternative to cane, which would not grow in the colder climes of Europe, the processing of sugar from sugar beets was perfected in the 1800s, which meant that people in non-tropical climates could have a native supply of sugar. But as global trading grew and the price of sugar became affordable to middle and lower income families, beet sugar farming waned.


A field of sugar cane. Photo courtesy Land Portal.





Sugar cubes were created in 1841 by Jakub Kryštof Rad (in what is now the Czech Republic) to provide a convenient, standardized amount of sugar for coffee and tea (“one lump or two?”). Cubes are available in white and light brown sugar, as well as cubes decorated with seasonal and other themes.



Unrefined decorative crystals of sugar used for coffee. They can be a natural golden color or colored in any variety of festive hues. Their crunchy texture and flavor also make them a versatile topping for cookies and ice cream. See also rock candy.



Christmas Sugar Cubes
Brown and white Christmas cubes from



A brand of turbinado sugar, which is a natural, raw or unrefined sugar. Turbinado sugar (and any unrefined sugar) has more flavor and nutrients than refined, white sugar, from which everything but the sweetness is stripped. With a raw sugar, the juice is extracted from the sugar cane, then crystallized through evaporation. By contrast, white sugar (granulated sugar, or table sugar) is obtained by refining the sugar cane crystals to remove the color and all the sugar cane juice flavor (and with that, all of the nutrients). Sugar In The Raw is made from sugar cane grown in Maui, Hawaii. See also turbinado sugar.
  Raw Sugar
Sugar in the Raw. Photo courtesy SXC.



A coarse sugar. See sanding sugar.


Tiny balls of sugar with a shiny coating, that look like edible pearls. An elegant touch to decorate iced cakes or decorated cookies. They're not oven-proof, so must be added after the item has been baked.


See simple syrup and bar syrup.

Sugar pearls available at


A very finely ground granulated sugar used in baking. In the U.K. it is known as caster sugar. It is an instantly-dissolving sugar used in cold beverages, meringues and mousses. One can convert standard standard granulated sugar to superfine sugar in a food processor or blender by pulsing for a minute. Recently, some companies have been marketing “ultrafine sugar.” Don’t confuse it for 10X Superfine sugar, which is powdered (confectioner’s) sugar.



Don’t confuse Swedish pearl sugar with Belgian pearl sugar. Swedish pearls are tiny, and used to garnish baked goods and candies. Belgian pearl sugar is much larger, and used to provide the crunch in Liege waffles. You can use them in other waffles, pancakes, and anywhere you want a crunch of sugar. Check out the different types of pancakes and waffles.

Swedish pearls sugar granules are very small, and used to garnish baked goods (photo courtesy Simply So Good).


In cooking, syrup is defined as a thick, viscous, sticky liquid that contains a large amount of dissolved sugars which do not have a tendency to crystallize. They can be made of fruit or other plant juices boiled with sugar, or with a sugar base, water, and natural or artificial flavorings. The word syrup comes from the Arabic sharab, meaning beverage. In pharmacology, concentrated sugar and water solutions are used as a base for medicines. The Latin word siropus, which yielded sirop in Old French and sirup in Middle English, was derived from sharab, the Arabic word for syrup.


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