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Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content or produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar.
Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5% molasses (dark brown sugar). The product is naturally moist from the hygroscopic nature of the molasses and is often labelled as "soft." The product may undergo processing to give a product that flows better for industrial handling. The addition of dyes and/or other chemicals may be permitted in some areas or for industrial products.
Particle size is variable but generally less than granulated white sugar, products for industrial use e.g. as an ingredient for industrial production of cakes may be based on caster sugar (crystals of approximately 0.35 mm).
Additional recommended knowledge
Many brown sugar producers produce brown sugar by adding cane molasses to completely refined white sugar crystals in order to more carefully control the ratio of molasses to sugar crystals and to reduce manufacturing costs. This also allows the production of brown sugars based predominantly on sugar obtained from beet. Brown sugar prepared in this manner is often much coarser than its unrefined equivalent and its molasses may be easily separated from the crystals by simple washing to reveal the underlying white sugar crystals; with unrefined brown there is inclusion of molasses within the crystal which will appear off-white if washed. This is mainly done for inventory control and convenience.
The molasses usually used is that obtained from sugar cane, because the flavor is generally preferred over beet sugar molasses. Although in some areas, especially in the Netherlands, sugar beet molasses is used. The white sugar used can be from either beet or cane as odour and color differences will be covered by the molasses.
Brown sugar can be made at home by mixing white granulated sugar with molasses, using one tablespoon of molasses for every cup of white sugar (one-sixteenth or 6.25% of the total volume). Thorough blending will yield dark brown sugar; for light brown sugar, between one and two teaspoons of molasses per cup should be used instead. It is, however, simpler to substitute molasses for an equal portion of white sugar while cooking, without mixing them separately.
When a recipe calls for "brown sugar" it is usually referring to dark brown sugar, light brown sugar should only be used when specified.
Brown sugar has a slightly lower caloric value by weight than white sugar due to the presence of water. One hundred grams of brown sugar contains 373 calories, as opposed to 396 calories in white sugar.  However, brown sugar packs more densely than white sugar due to the smaller crystal size and may have more calories when measured by volume. One tablespoon of brown sugar has 48 calories against 45 calories for white sugar
Brown sugar is reputed to have some value as a home remedy for menstrual cramps, though this is likely apocryphal.  John Yudkin, in his studies (cited in "Pure, White and Deadly" - UK title) that rats fed brown sugar, as opposed to white sugar, suffered all the same ills from such consumption as did the control group fed white sugar, while their offspring did not exhibit the same abnormalities related to the offspring of the rats fed on white sugar. This led to the conclusion that there are some trace nutritional aspects he was unable to detect in brown sugar that made it less harmful than white sugar, though the impact could only be detected in their offspring. Nutritionally, apart from pure carbohydrate, he was not able to detect any nutritional component to white or brown sugar, and such pure carbohydrate is on the list to avoid (therefore the term nutritional is suspect in this case) in the World Health Organization and FAO study  on obesity and chronic preventable diseases. Note this study does state that carbohydrates in their intrinsic or unrefined form are nutritionally highly beneficial and should make up 55-75% of our diet, but they are fundamentally different from extrinsic carboyhydrates such as both white and brown sugar.
In the late 1800s, the newly consolidated refined white sugar industry, which did not have full control over brown sugar production, mounted a smear campaign against brown sugar, reproducing microscopic photographs of harmless but repulsive-looking microbes living in brown sugar. The effort was so successful that by 1900, a best-selling cookbook warned that brown sugar was of inferior quality and was susceptible to infestation by "a minute insect".
Natural brown sugar
Natural brown sugar is a name for raw sugar which is a brown sugar produced from the first crystallisation of cane. Raw sugar is more commonly used than processed white sugar. As such "natural brown sugar" is free of additional dyes and chemicals. There is more molasses in brown sugar, giving it a higher mineral content. Some natural brown sugars have particular names and characteristics, and are sold as: Demerara or Muscovado.
Related sugar types
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Brown_sugar". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|