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Difference between white, raw, and unref


aka whole cane sugar, panela (Colombia), rapadura (in Brazil) 

piloncillo (in Mexico), jaggery (in India), kokuto (in Japan),

muscovado (in the Philippines), Sucanat

  • The least refined cane sugars in stores: Cane sugar means any sweet product derived, directly or indirectly, from cane. We can buy them in refined, raw, and unrefined forms. All of them are, in fact, refined but the least refined of all cane sugars are the so-called unrefined.

  • Come straight from the freshly harvested cane: Unrefined sugars are produced in cane growing countries. A sugar mill is always located close to cane plantations to press the juice as soon as the cane is harvested. The refining process used vary with the manufacturer, but it always involves collecting cane juice, clarifying it, and boiling its water off.


  • Retain most or all the original cane molassesTraditionally, unrefined sugars are not centrifuged to remove the original cane molasses at any stage during their refining. They have between 8 to14 percent molasses content, which gives them a strong flavor and intense brown color. They are substitutes for regular refined brown sugars but offer a more complex flavor.


  • A blend sugar + water: Their main component is sucrose, a double sugar. Their second predominant components are glucose and fructose, both simple sugars. A typical unrefined sugar contains around 90% sucrose and 5% invert sugar (which is glucose plus fructose); the remaining is mostly water. Their water content varies from 1 to 3% (in granulated, bricks, cones or blocks products) to 50% (in syrups and molasses). 


  • Have many local names: The vast majority are "traditional artisan sugars" produced in small batches around the world using hundreds of years old know-how, such as muscovado, piloncillo, jaggery, rapadura, kokuto, and panela. Sucanat (a registered trademark which stands for Sugar Cane Natural) is an unrefined sugars produced by a patented drying process, which results in a sweetener that does not clump, cake or harden.

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