All posts filed under: Sugars

SUGAR

Sugar, in general, is not poison. Breast milk contains sugar. The human bloodstream contains sugar, at all times, and the moment it doesn’t, we die. David Katz, MD. Sugar, like butter, lard, eggs and salt is the latest ingredient to be singled out and reviled as the sole ingredient responsible for our chronic ill-health. The “sugar” debate, as I write, is raging on all sides. Battalions of health experts, bloggers and public authorities are sending out the cavalry to attack sugar. Having been pretty much ignored during the butter and lard wars all eyes are now swivelled on the real culprit lurking sneakily in the shadow: sugar! Butter and lard are in the process of being rehabilitate and reabsorbed into the fold just as sugar is being excommunicated and exiled for ever as part of a balanced diet. The campaign is slowly beginning to take off as hundreds toss their sugar bags on to the bonfire of the obesity epidemic. From now on children’s feasts will be unlovely affairs offering revellers the chance to indulge …

TRADITIONAL SUGARS: REAL FOOD

-: rapadura, muscovado, demerara, panela, jaggery, ghur, date sugar :- All of the traditional sugars listed below derive from different parts of the globe but they all share one thing in common – the processing of sugar through evaporation rather than centrifugal force. The FAO defines such whole cane sugars as “Generally derived from sugar cane through traditional methods without centrifugation.” When cane juice is evaporated many of the plants natural nutrients (referred to as molasses) remain in tact, the result of which is a whole brown sugar brick or loaf with a caramel flavour. This should be contrasted to more modern refining techniques whereby the sucrose is separated from the other plant material through centrifugal force powered by fossil fuels. Although traditional methods of sugar extraction vary from tropical region to tropical region some of the key extraction methods remain the same. Typically the farmer or local miller will crush the stems of the canes in order to extract as much cane juice as possible. The resulting juice is sieved to remove impurities, heated …

TRADITIONAL SWEETENERS: REAL FOOD

-: raw honey, maple syrup, molasses/treacle, malt syrup :- The natural sweeteners listed below come in syrup rather than granulated form. You can use them to sweeten a cooked dish or in baked food but you may find that much of the natural flavours are lost through the heat. Further natural sweeteners are pricey compared to other sugars which is one reason many everyday cooks choose not to use them in their everyday cooking. They taste best when eaten raw, simply drizzled over yoghurts, pancakes, porridges or ice-creams. Alternatively, add a teaspoon of these natural sweeteners in a salad dressing and it will transform the entire taste of the salad. Raw Honey Raw, unheated honey retains many of the plant nutrients and vital enzymes, particularly amylase which helps breakdown the complex starches present in many grain based food, such as breads, porridges and waffles. Honey is made up of 55% fructose which makes it similar in chemical make-up to that of isoglucose. The key difference being that whilst honey is a natural food prepared by …

NON-TRADITIONAL SUGARS: THE FAKES

-: white table sugar, white icing sugar, brown sugar, stevia :- Somewhat confusingly brown sugars are not the same as the traditional whole cane sugars listed above. This is yet another case when the everyday cook needs to be alert to the modern, marketing con. Most commercially available brown sugars have been refined through centrifugal force where by the so-called “impurities” of the plant have been separated in order to produce pure sucrose. The manufacturer then mixes, to varying degrees, some of the molasses back into the mix. Although the colour remains in tact much of the flavour and nutritional benefits are lost. Quite an absurd business practice but one that still persists. This can make it a minefield when shopping for traditional whole cane sugars compared to refined brown sugars. Many of the largest sugar manufacturers are shy about whether their brown sugars are made using centrifugal force rather than evaporation. White granulated, castor or icing sugar. Deriving from either sugar cane or sugar beets – who cares? It’s the same chemical make-up – pure …

INDUSTRIAL SWEETENERS – THE FAKES

-: high fructose corn syrup, isoglucose, sugar syrup, agave syrup :- Industrial sweeteners come in many forms and many guises often marketed as “organic” and “natural”. When deciding which sweetener or sugar to purchase, as a general rule of thumb, try and establish how traditional the sweetener is as opposed to how “natural”. All fake food products have some tenuous link to a plant but that does not make them a natural, real food. Another test is the “patent” test. Does this sweetener marketed as organic and natural have a patent? If yes, then it is by definition going to be a non-traditional source of dubious food, in most cases highly refined and often mass produced to an industrrial scale. Below are two of the more common artificial sweeteners that are used, one of which “agave syrup” is heavily branded as “organic” and “natural”. Agave Syrup Agave syrup is not a traditional sugar from Mexico regardless of what the branding would have you believe. The traditional agave juice, aguamiel, is a form of fermented drink which does not taste anywhere near as …