Alternatives to White Sugar

Sugar…(aka sucrose or table sugar) is usually derived from sugar cane or sugar beet, although it can be from many other sources such as honey, molasses, fruit, maple syrup, sorghum, or brown rice.  White sugar has been processed in a way that leaves no nutrients left to it.  During the processing of sugar, sulphur dioxide is added to the cane juice before it goes through evaporation. This bleaches the mixture, and the sugar then goes through a few more processes, as well as being centrifuged to remove the outer coating of the raw sugar crystals. Different additives such as phosphoric acid or calcium hydroxide are added to help block or absorb impurities. The resulting product is the fine, white sugar we see at the stores.

Brown sugar is close to the same as the above processing, although they add in molasses at the end and re-dry the sugar.

So let’s take a look at some other types of sugar that have more nutrients (vitamins & minerals).

  • Sucanat & Rapadura ~ these are both dried sugar cane juice, which retain their molasses content and are both non-refined.  Sucanat looks similar to brown sugar, although a bit grainier and would work perfectly as a substitute. These can both be substituted for white sugar with a 1 to 1 ratio.
  • Date sugar ~ this is made from 100% pure dates that are dehydrated and ground into a sugar. It’s quite sweet, yet retains many vitamins and minerals as well as iron and fiber. 1 cup of date sugar can replace 1 cup of white sugar.
  • *Molasses ~ there are few kinds of molasses depending upon which part of the sugar process it is from. For instance, blackstrap molasses is the final product of the process of sugar making allowing it to contain many vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Another type of molasses, Barbados, is one of the first products made from the process, which results in a lighter, sweeter molasses. A substitution recommendation is ½ to ¾ molasses for 1 cup of white sugar.
  • *Maple syrup ~ this is from the sap of sugar trees and comes in three grades (A, B, or C).  Grade A is most commonly used on pancakes and waffles, while Grade B is better for baking. Use ½ to 2/3 cups of maple syrup for 1 cup of white sugar.
  • *Honey ~ sweet, with a very distinct flavor and may help baked goods retain their moisture. Use ½ cup of honey for 1 cup of white sugar, as well as reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees, which may require a bit longer cooking time.
  • *Brown rice syrup ~ this is from rice that has been soaked, sprouted, and cooked with enzymes, which help to break down the starches. This syrup can be replaced one to one with honey, barley malt, or maple syrup. Since brown rice syrup isn’t as sweet as white sugar, use 1 ¼  cups for one cup of white sugar.

These are just a few other types of sugar that can be used, but there are many others (concentrated fruit sweetener, frozen fruit juice concentrate, pureed fruit such as apple sauce, bananas, or prunes, or barley malt).

*When using a liquid sweetener, reduce any liquid in the recipe by about ¼. If a liquid isn’t called for in the recipe, increase the flour by 3 to 5 tablespoons for each ¾ cups of liquid sweetener.


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