How exactly does one make sugar at home?
The sugar that you use on a daily basis is made from sugarcane. Going from the sugarcane plant to granular sugar involves a lot of heavy machinery and numerous steps. So, it is quite apparent that you can’t make it at home from sugarcane. But there is another plant that you can use as an alternative – sugar beets. The main component of sugarcane that translates to sugar is sucrose. Sugar beets are also high in sucrose content, which is why they make good alternatives to sugarcane.
While sugarcane accounts for more than 70% of table sugar production in the world, sugar beets make up the rest of the 30%. Russia is the world’s largest producer of it, followed by France and the United States.
Another type of sugar that is easy to make at home is maple sugar. It is slightly different from it’s beet alternative in taste and texture. Maple sugar has a hint of smoky taste to it. It tastes very much like maple syrup and is great to use while baking. Now, let’s see how you can make both these types of sugars at home.
Using Sugar Beets
To make this, you only require two ingredients – sugar beets and water. Here’s how you can make your own –
- Wash the beets to clear off any dirt and cut off or remove any rotten beets or beet parts. Peeling optional. (Note – peeling will remove some minute impurities contained in the peel which cannot be removed by washing. It will also cut down on some of the minerals that are only present in the peel.)
- Finely chop or shred the beets and throw them into a large pot.
- Fill the pot up with water, enough to entirely submerge the beets.
- Boil the water for a few minutes, then turn down the heat and simmer the contents of the pot until tender. It might take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours, depending on the amount of beets you’ve used.
- Drain the water into another pot and strain the beet pulp using cheesecloth.
- Combine the strained juice with the one you just drained (in the above step) and set aside.
- Put this water on heat again and simmer until it turns amber brown and thick and syrupy (like honey).
- Let the syrup cool. After a while, it will crystallize.
- Now you can grind the crystals into a fine powder and store for future use.
There is one key difference between beet sugar made at home and one that is industry produced. The latter does not have its molasses separated out and is akin to brown sugar. This means it will taste different than processed cane sugar.
Using Maple Syrup
Maple sugar is just as easy to make as beet sugar. Although, you need a couple more things than just a pot and a cheesecloth. Apart from organic maple syrup, you will need a heavy bottomed pan and a candy thermometer. Here’s how you can make yourself some maple sugar –
- Pour 3 gallons of organic maple syrup into a thick bottomed pan.
- Start heating the syrup on medium-high heat and keep checking it’s temperature. Stop when you read 290 – 300 degrees. (If while heating the syrup starts to rise up to the point of overflowing, turn the heat down for a moment and turn it back up after the foam has settled down).
- Immediately after turning off the heat, start stirring the syrup vigorously. Keep going for about 5 minutes.
- Pour into a heat resistant container. (Caution! The syrup is scalding hot right now and should be handled carefully)
- Let it cool completely.
- After cooling, the syrup should become solid. You can break this down into small chunks and then grind them into powder for storage.
A little note – darker maple syrup will output a moister output than lightly colored syrup.
One quart (roughly 950 ml) of organic maple syrup will give you 900 grams (2 pounds) of the powdered goodness.
Maple syrup is made from sap from tapped maple trees. Drawing sap from a maple tree is not at all harmful for the tree and the same tree can be tapped for years to come. Unlike sugarcane, where you need to grow the plant anew every year, maple sugar is a much more sustainable alternative.
As you can see, making both types of sugar is a very simple process. It’s a fun new thing to try while sitting at home quarantined. It is also a very useful skill for people who are trying to go fully organic and avoid processed sugars.
If you’re looking for more fun things to do at home while quarantined, see this IKEA guide to making a comfy pillow fort for your kids.
To read more such fun, informative articles, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter at internationalinside.com!