In our everyday lives we use sugar in a variety of forms. The most common is granulated sugar which is used by many people to sweeten hot drinks and breakfast cereals. Sugar can also be bought in cubes, which are made by pressing wet sugar into moulds before drying. Icing sugar, used to coat cakes and pastries, is made by grinding the sugar crystals into a fine powder.
Other sugars include caster sugar (finer than granulated and used for jams and jellies), and brown sugar (for colour and flavour). Syrups and treacle (for cooking and spreading) are liquid forms of sugar.
For further information please visit British Sugar plc, SilverSpoon and Tate and Lyle
Sugar in cooking
Sugar is not just a sweetener. It can be used in a number of different ways:
- As a preservative. At the right concentration sugar helps to stop micro-organisms growing and so prevents food spoilage as in jams and other preserves
- It helps to produce subtle changes in flavour. Sugar softens the acidity and sourness in foods such as mayonnaise, tomato products and tart fruits such as gooseberries and grapefruit
- As a bulking agent, sugar gives the characteristic texture to a variety of foods – from jams to ice cream and cakes
- To raise the boiling point or lower the freezing point which can be essential in some recipes, eg making ice cream
- To speed up the process of fermentation (by yeast) in baking which makes the dough rise, eg in bread and tea cakes
- It makes cakes light and open-textured when it is beaten with butter or eggs
Sugar in foods
Sugar is added to many foods for flavour, texture, colour and safety. By reading the ingredients panel on food packaging labels you can see how many ordinary foods contain sugars. Remember glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose (milk sugar) are all sugars. Other names for sugars include dextrose, invert sugar and maltose.
Other uses of sugar
But did you know that sugars:
- Are also used to help in the healing of wounds?
- Are used by chemical manufacturers to grow penicillin?
- Can be added to concrete to aid the setting process?
- Absorb moisture and therefore keep your biscuits crunchy?
- Help flowers stay fresher for longer when added to the water?
- Are used to make the ‘glass’ used in film stunts?
More Sugar Trivia ...
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