Cane and beet sugars are the favorite and most recognizable sweeteners. Their unmatched versatility is due to their main component – sucrose. We call them simply "sugar" but it comprises forty sweeteners available in granulated form (with a variety of crystal sizes and amount of molasses) and as liquids (syrups and molasses).
On my quest to discover all caloric sweeteners from sugar cane and sugar beet I could possible find, I came across many names used in the front label of forty different products and almost one hundred brands. Names are the terms used by the sugar manufacturer or distributor to describe the type of sweetener. If you are confused about the different types of sugar in stores and would like to learn how to identify them, this blog post is for you.
First, you need to know that cane sugars are sold in refined, raw, and unrefined forms but beet sugar is available in refined form only. Therefore, I divided sweeteners in this post according to their degree of refining: unrefined, raw, and refined.
To learn the difference between them, read two of my previous blog posts:
Note: The terms sugar cane and sugar beet are made up of two words. To simplify, I connect the words and use sugarcane and sugarbeet or I simply use cane and beet.
Unrefined sugars are made from cane only. They are not really "unrefined" but are the least refined cane sugars in stores. The refining process used vary with the manufacturer, but it always involves collecting cane juice, clarifying it, and boiling its water off. Unrefined sugars are typically not centrifuged to remove the original cane molasses at any stage during their refining.
They come from cane-growing countries like Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Japan, and Mauritius. Unrefined sugars contain 8 to 14% molasses, which gives a strong flavor and brown color. Refer to a previous blog post to learn more: What is unrefined sugar, anyway?
Unrefined sugars may or may not be certified organic. If that is what you are looking for, read my previous post titled Organic Sugar: What does it actually mean?.
I list below the names on the front label of unrefined sugars:
Hand crafted cane sugar =>
Unrefined cane sugar =>
Whole cane sugar =>
Light muscovado sugar =>
Dark muscovado sugar =>
Ground jaggery =>
Okinawa kokuto =>
Ground panela =>
Traditional cane syrup =>
Original molasses =>
Homestyle molasses =>
Raw sugars are also made from cane only. They are produced in cane-growing countries from the first batch of sugar crystallized from the cane juice. Raw sugars are slightly less refined but much less processed than refined sugars listed next in this post. They retain a little bit of the original cane molasses. Most of them contain around 2% molasses, which gives them a hint of flavor and color. All raw sugars, except the Florida Crystals brand, are imported.
They may or may not be certified organic and you can read about it on a previous post titled Organic Sugar: What does it actually mean?. Organic light and brown sugars are made by blending organic molasses with organic sugar. To learn more, refer to my blog post Raw Sugar: From Turbinado to Demerara, Find out Exactly What it is
I list below the names you may find in the front label of raw sugars:
Raw cane sugar =>
Washed sugar =>
Turbinado sugar =>
Demerara sugar =>
Evaporated cane juice =>
Dried cane syrup =>
Dehydrated cane juice =>
Natural cane sugar =>
Less processed sugar =>
Golden sugar =>
Organic sugar =>
Organic powdered (confectioners) =>
Organic light brown sugar =>
Organic dark brown sugar =>
Demerara sugar cubes =>
Liquid cane sugar =>
Organic molasses =>
Organic blackstrap molasses =>
Refined sugars are made from cane and beet plants. They are all highly processed and slightly less refined than the raw sugars listed above. Cane sugars are produced in a Sugar Refinery using raw sugar as starting material. Beet sugars are made in a Sugar Factory. All molasses listed here are from cane, as beet molasses are not palatable. Liquid sweeteners are listed last in bold letters. Learn more by visiting my refined sugar page or by reading two previous posts: Cane vs Beet Sugar: A Difference? and What is refined sugar?.