15 Different Types of Sugar Explained

Different Types of Sugar
Photo by Faran Raufi

A few forms are likely to come to mind automatically when you think of sugar: white sugar and brown sugar.

But while those are the solutions most likely to be contained in your sugar canister or pantry, a wide range of sugars are actually used in cooking and baking.

Have you ever heard of Muscovado? It is among the types of sugar that most people do not know; however, it offers a natural butterscotch flavor to your baked goods.

Powdered sugar readily dissolves into liquid, making this sugar suitable for icing. The pearl sugar you find in Scandinavian desserts does not melt in the heat.

However, both sugars have something in common: they are produced by extracting sugar juice from beet sugar or sugarcane plants.

But many sugar varieties can be made from there, some perfect for lending bread a crunchy, sweet texture and others that are molasses-forward and that go well in barbecue sauces.

Which sugars are the healthiest?

You might be wondering if you are better than others with one type of added sugar. In truth, though, there is no way around the fact that added sugars have extra calories in them.

According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, they are both metabolized by the body in the same manner.

That’s because sugars contain different fructose and glucose ratios. If there’s more fructose than glucose in the added sugar, it doesn’t mean it’s healthier.

Diabetes patients are an exception, though, because their blood glucose needs to be regulated, so a higher-fructose, lower-glucose sugar appears to be healthier.

However, since they are packaged with nutrients and fiber, naturally occurring sugars that are in fruits are better.

Types of Sugar

In this article, we will be explaining 15 different types of sugar and their uses.

1. Granulated sugar

This is one of the most common types of sugar. From cakes to cookies, there is a fair probability that the recipe would call for granulated sugar.

The executive pastry chef for Colorado-based restaurant company Secret Sauce, Nadine Donovan, says, “The fine crystals make for standard measuring, as they don’t cake together as many other sugars do.”

2. Fruit sugar

According to The Sugar Association, fruit sugar crystals are smaller than those of normal sugar. In dry mixtures used to make pudding or gelatin, this is one of the types of sugar you can normally find.

3. Confectioners’ sugar

According to The Sugar Association, this is simply granulated sugar that is ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. It is also known as powdered sugar. To keep it from caking, it’s normally mixed with a little bit of cornstarch.

Sugar from confectioners is perfect for decorating a variety of baked goods, says Donovan. On a dessert, it can be sprinkled or used to make the icing.

It is also used in whipped cream, too, she notes, since it is smooth and has stabilizing properties. By combining one tablespoon of cornstarch with one cup of sugar, you can actually make powdered sugar at home.

4. Superfine sugar

Some of the names this sugar goes by include Caster sugar or bar sugar. Superfine sugar consists of fine crystals. It dissolves well in cold drinks because of this and can be used to make a basic cocktail syrup, Donovan says.

5. Baker’s special sugar

Donovan stated, “The fine nature of baker’s special sugar is ideal for meringues and buttercreams, as it dissolves much faster than regular granulated sugar.” Created especially for the baking industry, you can also see it as the sugar used on top of donuts or cookies or to make fine crumbles, says the Sugar Association.

6. Coarse sugar

This sugar consists of large crystals. You will also find baked products such as fast bread, cookies, and Danish pastries topped with coarse sugar. Ontiveros stated, “It gives a crunchy texture to the final product,” he says.

According to The Sugar Association, the bigger crystals often render it immune to inversion (that’s the breakdown of fructose and glucose) at baking temperatures, so coarse sugar is ideal for fondants and liquor.

7. Cane sugar

Cane sugar is minimally refined sugar made from sugarcane alone, explains Jeff Ontiveros, the senior manager of the Global Pastry Program of the Whole Foods Industry. This sugar can be used in any product which, he says, requires “granulated sugar.”

8. Muscovado sugar

Are you looking for the typical butterscotch taste? Ignore the supermarket’s bag of chemically colored chips and search for a tiny bag of muscovado sugar, Gossett suggests. “Of all the sugars on the market, Muscovado is the least processed, and as such, retains the most complex sweetness, including the intense butterscotch notes you remember from puddings and candies,” she says.

9. Pearl sugar

Clémence Gossett, the head pastry chef and co-owner at The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories, states that pearl sugar does not melt during the baking process because of its dense granules.

For instance, in its Scandinavian classes, the school uses pearl sugar. “Pearl sugars are produced to keep it from dissolving by compressing white sugar, even inside baked goods like those delicious Liege waffles,” she says.

10. Sanding sugar

According to The Sugar Association, whether the granules are large or small, they reflect light to appear as if they are sparkling. Sanding sugar, Ontiveros says, is used to decorate products that are already baked. “This sugar is usually colored and sprinkled with royal icing on sugar cookies,” he says.

11. Turbinado sugar

After the crystals are spun off from the molasses, Turbinado sugar is formed, but this occurs before those crystals are bleached and refined. Gossett stated. “The larger, golden granules retain more of the complex flavors and make your teas and coffees a lovely addition,” she says.

12. Dark brown sugar

Dark brown sugar is darker in color than light brown sugar and has more of a molasses taste. It is used to create a more nuanced taste of caramel and toffee in baking, Ontiveros says. According to The Sugar Association, this rich scent is exactly right for gingerbread cookies, as well as baked beans and barbecue.

13. Light brown sugar

By adding molasses to refined sugar crystals, brown sugars are created; less so for light brown sugar and more so for dark brown, Gossett explains. “What helps give your chocolate chip cookies a chewier consistency and a deeper, more complex sweetness is the extra moisture from the molasses,” she says.

According to The Sugar Association, light brown sugar is most often found in baked goods.

At home, you can make your own brown sugar: mix two tablespoons of molasses, Gossett notes with a cup of white sugar. Stir with a spoon first, then fry with your fingers and watch it turn into brown sugar.

14. Free-flowing brown sugar

There is less moisture content in this brown sugar, but it is still full of flavor, Ontiveros says. It is used on finished dishes, such as oatmeal and cereal, for sprinkling,” he says.” Granulated brown sugar is also known as powder-like brown sugar.

15. Liquid sugar

Liquid sugar or simple syrup has water and white, granulated sugar in a ratio of 1:1. This sugar type is not crystallized, and it melts into liquids uniformly, Ontiveros describes. This is most often used to sweeten beverages such as coffee, tea, or cocktails.

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