Sweet Origins – Where does sugar come from?

The supermarket sugar aisle just stepped up a level. Sugars of the World is a new range of sustainable, unrefined and exotic sugars that can be used to replicate cuisines from around the world - now available in Australia. Based on where it’s been grown and how it was processed, each sugar takes on a unique and individual flavour. So where exactly do these sugars come from?

(Image: Sugar beet)

(Image: Sugar beet)

Sugar beet

In the 1700s, a German physicist discovered that white sugar beets (a distant relation to beetroot) contain sucrose similar to cane sugar. With Caribbean imports exorbitantly priced, the idea of a local sugar source was highly attractive. When the British Navy blocked France’s ports, Napoleon seized on the opportunity, establishing sugar schools and encouraging farmers to plant beet crops.

France remains one of the world’s top sugar beet producers – little wonder when you consider the delectable treats made with French Caster Sugar, an ingredient that blends and dissolves easily into macarons, éclairs, tarts, pastries and more.

It takes around five hours for sugar to be extracted from a beet. The excess pulp, stripped of sweetness, is dried and fed to livestock, minimising waste. The pulp is also used in biofuels, giving this sugar source a sustainable future.

 

Coconut Blossom Sugar

Despite the name association, Coconut Blossom Sugar does not come from the nut of the coconut.

Instead, coconut palm trees are ‘tapped’ twice a day for sap from a blossoming flower, which produces two litres per day for around twenty years.

This exceptional harvest is what makes Coconut Blossom Sugar one of the most sustainable sweet options, using minimal land for maximum output.

In Indonesia, traditional harvesting provides much needed income for rural communities. These communities also process the sap, which is heated to make a syrup. The syrup sets to form a paste that is then granulated. This process endows it with an irresistible butterscotch scent and flavour, ideal for crumbles, brownies or on porridge.

A low glycaemic index (GI), to release energy gradually, and low fructose content makes Coconut Blossom Sugar a popular choice for children’s treats.

 
(Image: Harvesting Agave piña)

(Image: Harvesting Agave piña)

Agave Sugar

It may look like a cactus but agave is actually a succulent. Found mostly in the Mexican desert, these spiky plants can live for forty years and have been used as a medicine, food and fibre source for centuries. Not just culturally significant, this plant is also vital to the local economy, supporting indigenous farmers.

The sweet agave nectar is derived from the plant base (known by the locals as the “piña”), made into a syrup and then spray-dried to a powder form. Its fine texture and sweetness is similar to icing sugar.

 
(Image: Colombian Panela Sugar – made by hand)

(Image: Colombian Panela Sugar – made by hand)

Cane Sugar

More than 80 per cent of the world’s sugar comes from sugar cane. Over 6,000 families make their living from the crop in Australia. Queensland’s climate provides ideal conditions for this giant grass. Try Australian Unrefined Sugar for a light caramel flavour, or Australian Muscovado for a dark molasses taste.

Molasses is also naturally retained in Sri Lankan Rapadura and Colombian Panela Sugars. These are processed by hand, providing an important livelihood in their countries and the continuation of age-old traditions.

 

Boost your kitchen credentials and try these sugars in your favourite recipes. Discover the new Sugars of the World range in Coles, Woolworths and Independent retailers nationally. www.sugarsoftheworld.com