Sugar: from beet to sweet
Sugar is the main ingredient used when making traditional sweets.
It is an organic molecule, meaning it is ‘a molecule produced by a living system and containing at least one carbon-hydrogen bond’. It is therefore naturally present in fruits and vegetables, and highly concentrated in sugar beet and cane.
The scientific name for sugar is sucrose, a compound molecule that is itself made up of two molecules: fructose (plentiful in fruits), and glucose (found particularly in grapes, honey and starch).
Sucrose is extracted from sugarcane and sugar beet by a mechanical process. Factories that transform the beets into sugar are called sugar refineries. After the various steps in the extraction process, the first sugar obtained is in crystal form. This sugar is then used to make other kinds of sugar: granulated sugar, sugar cubes, icing sugar, brown sugar, rock sugar, etc.
Sugar and ‘sustainable development’
Industrial sugar extraction from beets is a perfect model of sustainable development in that it uses every part of the plant. There is no waste, everything is transformed or recycled
The natural benefits of sugar
Sugar has industrial uses due to its many technological and organoleptic properties. When added to food products, it gives them a sweet flavour; when caramelised, it adds a lovely golden colour; it also plays a key role in texture, making foods soft, chewy, crispy, crunchy, etc. And it naturally helps preserve foods (like jam!) as well as being a very effective fermenting agent.