Sugar is most commonly used to define an ingredient used in cooking and baking as a sweetener, a soluble carbohydrate called sucrose. But there are many different kinds.
Types of Sugar
White Sugar– The most common form of sugar is white sugar or granulated sugar.
Decorating Sugar– Also known as coarse grain or pearl sugar, this is the sanding sugar you think of as sprinkles and commonly tinted fun colors.
Caster Sugar– Labeled caster in Europe, caster sugar in the US is usually called superfine sugar and is white sugar that has a texture somewhere between granulated sugar and powdered sugar. To make your own, place granulated in a food processor and give it a few whirls.
Powdered Sugar– Powdered sugar is ground using a machine to a super fine and silky powder. Used in frostings and other desserts that don’t want texture or grit. It is also called confectioner’s sugar.
Turbinado Sugar– Turbinado sugar comes from the first pressing of raw sugar cane, extracting some of the juice. This is why it really isn’t raw, but still minimally processed. It retains some of the original molasses from the sugarcane and has a subtle caramel flavor and the signature camel colored hue.
Demerara Sugar- Type of raw cane sugar with a large grain, crunchy texture, and pale brown color, but not sticky like brown sugar and less coarse than turbinado.
Brown Sugar– Both light and dark brown sugar are granulated sugars with add molasses. They are wet and sandy.
Molasses, honey, agave, corn syrup and maple syrups are all thought to be liquid sugars as they are also sweeteners.
What does Sugar Do?
The purpose of sugar is to provide sweetness in baked goods, foods and beverages, but also assist chemical reactions that occur during cooking and baking like the Maillard reaction or the blooming of yeast.
It helps to brown foods by caramelizing. Heat breaks down the sugars so they melt and meld, creating a golden color and nutty flavor. This develops layers of flavor sophistication.
Storage & Shelf Life
Sugar does not support microbial growth and therefore has an indefinite shelf life if kept dry.