Once a prize kept under lock and key in wealthy households, sugar is now ubiquitous and comes in many forms. Most commercial sugar is made from cane or beet root. Here’s a look at the most common types of sugar used in the kitchen.
Granulated white sugar: White sugar is highly refined and made from sugarcane or beets. This all-purpose refined white sugar has small but fairly coarse crystals and is used to sprinkle on food, sweeten beverages, or add to dishes during cooking. Golden granulated sugar is a brown sugar made from sugar cane molasses that is similar but has a light brown color.
Castor (caster) or superfine sugar: This refined white sugar has fine crystals that dissolve more quickly than regular granulated sugar, making it a good choice for baking meringues. Golden castor sugar is made from unrefined cane sugar.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar that has been mixed with molasses to color it and give it a moist texture. Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark brown sugar. Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar, which has a similar color and taste but is actually the residue from processed sugarcane.
Turbinado sugar: A sugar cane extract that is made by steaming unrefined raw sugar. It has large crystals and a slight molasses flavor. It’s a shade paler than brown sugar and can be substituted for brown sugar in recipes. We like to use turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins, cookies and scones. It holds its texture well and, when cooked, has a nice sweet crunch.
Demerara Sugar: True Demerara sugar is raw or partly refined sugar with large crystals, but some impostors are nothing more than white sugar stained with molasses.
Muscovado Sugar: This raw cane sugar comes in light and dark varieties and is used to make cakes and desserts.
Powdered, icing or confectioner’s sugar: This sugar is made by reducing granulated sugar to a powder and mixing it with starch to prevent it from lumping up. It’s used to decorate cakes and can also be used in making sweet dishes and baked goods.