SUGAR & SYRUPS
All sugar is made by first extracting sugar juice from sugar beet or sugar cane plants, and from there, many types of sugar can be produced. Through slight adjustments in the process of cleaning, crystallizing and drying the sugar and varying the level of molasses, different sugar varieties are possible. Sugar of varying crystal sizes produce unique functional characteristics that make the sugar suitable for different foods and beverages. Sugar color is primarily determined by the amount of molasses remaining on or added to the crystals, giving pleasurable favors and altering moisture. Heating sugar also changes the color and favor (yum, caramel!). Some types of sugar are used only by the food industry and are not available in the supermarket.
Sugars? Sugar? Added Sugars? Sweeteners?
Understanding exactly what the differences are can be confusing and even a little bit frustrating, especially when there are a lot of inconsistencies in how these terms are used.
Sugars: Sugars is a term referring to a broad category of all mono- and disaccharides: the simplest carbohydrates. Monosaccharides include glucose, galactose and fructose, and disaccharides include sucrose, lactose, maltose and trehalose. Sugars can be naturally occurring (e.g., found in fruits, vegetables, dairy products and nuts); they can be extracted from plants and dairy and added to foods; or they can be made using various plant or dairy ingredients as a starting point.
Sugar: Sugar refers only to sucrose, a disaccharide, made up of two sugars (glucose and fructose) bound together, that is naturally made and found in all green plants. Sugar found in the food supply is harvested from sugar beets and sugar cane.
Added Sugars: Added sugars refers to a category that includes a variety of caloric sweeteners, including sugar and many others sweeteners that are classified as sugars. Added sugars do not include non- and low-calorie sweeteners. The term “added sugars” was defined by the FDA in 2016 as sugars that are: n added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such; free, mono- and disaccharides; sugars from syrups and honey; and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100% fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.
Other Sweeteners: On ingredient lists you’ll often find other sweeteners, sometimes in combination with sugar for both favor and functional reasons. These other sweeteners can be caloric, low-caloric or non-caloric. The sweetness and functionality of other sweeteners varies from product to product, so when it comes to ingredient substitution or product reformulation, sugar can’t simply be replaced by another single ingredient. Some examples are: Brown Rice Syrup; Coconut Sugar; Corn Syrup; Dextrose; Sorbitol; Saccharin; High-fructose Corn Syrup; Stevia; Honey; Maltodextrin; and Maple Syrup.