sugar-quest A Question of Sugar:

Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 16:34:15 +1000
From: Robyn Probert <robyn.probert@lawpoint.com.au>

At 04:48 AM 29/06/98 -0700, Tyrca wrote:
>Some might be interested that last week at Albertson's, I saw a box labeled >"Raw Sugar" on the  shelf next to the brown Sugar.   Could this  be  related to >cone sugar?

My father used to work as a chemist for CSR (Colonial Sugar Refinery). He
explained the process to me in detail...

First, they harvest the cane. At the mill on site, they press the juice out
of it. The clear juice is strained, then they add a small amount of lime as
a floculant to precipitate out some big impurities and let it settle. Then
they boil the juice to concentrarte the sugar - this makes it go brown too.
Then they throw in some sugar to act as nucleii and let it crystalise out.
They put the crystals/syrup in a centrifuge and spin the syrup out.

The crystals are Raw Sugar. They are about 99.05% pure sucrose with a
coating of syprup and impurities (these are what give the flavour).

Before they had centrifuges they used to pack the crystals/syrup in cone
shaped wire sieves to strain the syrup out. Then they would wash off any
remaining syru with hot water and let it dry in the cones.

The syrup from the mill is called Mill Molassas or Blackstap Molassas. It is
very high in minerals and bug parts and is used as a food suplement. They
also put it back on the fields as a fertiliser!

Meanwhile, the raw sugar goes to the refinery. It is dissolved, more lime
added, CO2 bubbled through and then passed over charcoal to whiten it. Then
it is boiled again and crystalised out. The first and second rounds of this
produce white crystals. These are washed further to become White Sugar
which
is 99.2% sucrose.

The third round produces white crystals too but by now the syrup is getting
pretty dark. They add some syrup back to the third pass crystals along with
fruit sugar (levulose, which they make chemically by inverting one of the
carbon rings) and let it dry. This becomes Brown Sugar which is 98.8%
sucrose. It is really white sugar crystals with a syrup coating. The fruit
sugar is hydroscopic which is why Brown Sugar stays moist.

The rest of the syrup is called Refinery Molasses and is used to make Rum
and commercial pure alcohol.

Still with me? In summary - cone sugar would have a chemical makeup and
taste somewhere between raw and processed sugar. Raw sugar is probably the
closest substitute but has a larger grain size, but running through a
blender/food processor would fix that.

Well, you did ask...
Rowan