The invention of sugar opened doors for the vast sweet and dessert recipes which we cherish daily. Sugar replaced honey and jaggery in many recipes and made way for modern desserts. In early days sugar was assumed to be a royal ingredient possessed by only rich and royal people in society.
The use of sugar in cooking was a luxury at the early stage of sugar invention. Sugar is a crystallized form of naturally occurring compounds like glucose, fructose, and galactose.
Etymology Of Sugar
Sugar got its name from the primary Sanskrit name ‘Sarkara' meant ‘ground or candied sugar. Sugar traveled to other regions of the world through trade and got many names according to the spoken language of the region.
Persian called it ‘Sakkar,' Arabians – ‘Sukkar,' Latin – ‘Saccharum,' French – ‘Sucre,' and then today's common name ‘Sugar.'
Taste & Aroma Of Sugar
Sugar is sweet with an ether aroma; sugar, when chewed, feels powdery.
Famous Culinary Uses Of Sugar
Baked Desserts: Sugar is used in many baked food items like cookies, biscuits, cakes, sponge cakes, buns, doughnuts, muffins, cupcakes, sweet bread, sweet toasts, pretzel, and tarts.
Frozen Desserts: Frozen desserts are added with sugar for sweetening; some of the desserts are ice-creams, mousse, ice-cream cakes, ice sorbet, ice pops, snow cones, custards, etc.
Indian Desserts: Sugar is added to Indian desserts according to one's taste of sweetness and recipe’s requirement. Some of the Indian desserts are Halwa, Faluda, Petha, Barfi, Rasmalai, Kheer, Laddoo, Rabdi, Gulabjam, Bengali sweets, Petha, Payasam, Balushahi, etc. Yogurt sweets like Amrakhand, Shrikhand, Mishti Doi, Bhapa Doi, and many more.
Sugar Candy: We can't just imagine a child who does not like candies; also youngsters cherish on candies. Grownups try to avoid candies because of health and weight gain issues, but they are also mad about the candies. Colorful candies make everyone pick one sweet, colorful, crunchy candy. Lollipops are the evergreen candies of all times made from sugar with some essence and colors.
Preservative: Sugar is used for the preservation of many food items keeping bacteria and microbes away. Sugar preservation is useful and used to make many sweet pickles like Mango Murabba, Awala Murabba.
Jellies: Sugar is used to make fruit jellies and jams; sugar is essential for the jelling, preservation, and firmness of the jellies and jams. Gummy Bear jello, butterfly jellies are among the favorite children of jellies.
Canning & Freezing: Fruits are canned and frozen to keep it fresh and to avoid it from getting rotten. Sugar is used to can and freeze fruits for better color and texture. Sugar takes some place of water from the fruit by osmosis and helps to maintain color, texture, and shape of fruit restricting further dehydration.
Caramelization: Caramelization is the process of heating sugar until it becomes brown. Caramelized sugar is used to enhance the color and flavor of sautéed vegetables and meat. Caramelized sugar is also used to garnish and decorate various recipes and desserts.
Salad Dressing: Sugar is used to sprinkle on salads to balance the bitter, salty, and sour taste of the salads due to various ingredients like lime, vinegar, and common salts.
Glazing Vegetables: Glazing is the process of cooking vegetables in a small amount of liquid over low heat until the vegetables release juices, and cooking it until the juices become thick. The small amount of liquid contains sugar, butter, and vegetable stock.
Barbeque Sauces: Barbeque sauces are cooked with sugar for caramelizing; the process brings out the brown color also enhances the flavor of the sauces that contain lime, vinegar, and tomato.
Pickling: Sugar is used to pickle and preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables for using it throughout the year. Arid regions where rainwater is very limited can grow the very small amount of vegetable; which they have to preserve to use later.
Salt Curing: Salt curing is the process of filling all the places with salt or a mixture of curing salt, sugar, and herbs. Salt curing prevents bacteria from reaching the meat also dehydrates the meat, and enhances the taste. Sugar is added to balance the salt and to bring a subtly sweet flavor to the food.
Nutrients In Sugar
White sugar is 98% carbohydrates and 2% water without any fats and proteins. Brown sugar is better for our health as it contains iron approximately 15% of our required daily intake and also contains molasses.
Health Benefits Of Sugar
Immediate Boost Of Energy: As sugar is made of only soluble carbohydrates; it dissolves in blood and provides an instant source of energy.
Store House Of Energy: Some of the carbohydrates provided by sugar are stored by the body to use it later.
Quick Lift In Mood: Sweetness of sugar can bring up the right mood as sugar activates pleasure centers in the brain and stimulates the tissue to produce dopamine. It brings an instant euphoric feeling in us and helps to shed depression.
Effects On Health
Some of the ill effects caused by overeating of sugar are obesity and disturbed metabolism, cardiovascular diseases, teeth decay, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, hyperactivity, resistance to insulin, and addiction to the sweetness.
A Brief History Of Sugar
Sugar is originated in India in ancient times; Chinese records of 8th century BC are found to be noted that sugar is originated in India. Europe got to know about sugar and got introduced to it in the 1st century AD.
During the 1st century Europeans imported sugar only for medicinal use and not for culinary use. Indian traders brought sugar to various regions, and Indian monks brought knowledge of sugar crystallization process to China.
In modern days Columbus was the one who introduced sugarcane to the new world; cultivating sugarcane first time in Hispaniola. Later many sugar mills were built up and run in Cuba and Jamaica.
Manufacturing Of Sugar
Sugar is produced from sugar beet and sugarcane. Sugar is made by refining the molasses present in raw sugar; concentrated by boiling and crystallized. Sometimes sugar is bleached to bring the crystal white color of sugar removing brownish color.
Production Of Sugar
India, Brazil, the European Union, China, and Thailand are the five largest sugar-producing countries around the world. Other sugar-producing countries are Australia, Pakistan, Russia, Mexico, and the United States.