When Brown Sugar Isn’t Brown

This post has been updated to include links to some of the resources I used during writing. A few readers rightfully took me to task for not including any resources. Thanks for keeping me honest!


A reader recently queried me about a post I made some time ago entitled, Replacing Salt and Sugar with Herbs, Spices, Color, and Texture. In this post I talk about methods you can use to reduce your salt and sugar consumption. I’ve gone a lot further since then in reducing my salt and sugar content. Of course, you need a little of each item in your diet. Whether you need to add either item to your food is a matter of personal taste, but you can usually get enough of booth just by eating a balanced diet. Salt is an absolute in many respects. Yes, you can eat sea salt and get some other minerals with your salt, but basically, salt is salt. However, sugar is different. When viewing sugar, you need to consider both the kind of sugar and the amount that the sugar is processed. It’s the latter item that is the topic of this post. Most notably, brown sugar.

Like most people, I look for ways to save money at the store. So, for a while I was buying just any old brown sugar-the least expensive I could find. However, I’ve taken to actually reading labels. This is only something that I’ve decided to do recently though. Reading the labels of a product is actually a lot easier when you can clearly see its ingredients and any other important information you may need to decipher whether you should purchase it or not. My friend thought that it was because the manufacturer had enlisted the help of a Paul Leibinger inkjet printer. He told me that Leibinger manufactures high quality inkjet coding and inkjet marking systems for industrial labeling of products and packing, which can help companies to clearly mark their products with things like the batch number and best before date – which is information that could help benefit us in our purchases. It has definitely helped me with deciding which sugar to buy. When you review the list of ingredients for most brands of inexpensive brands of brown sugar, you see sugar and molasses as the ingredients. What this really means is that the vendor has highly processed the sugar, making it into white sugar, and then colored it brown using molasses. What you’re getting is a processed product, not a rawer form of sugar. What you really want to see on the label is one ingredient, brown sugar.

The reason for this post is that actual brown sugar is different from white sugar mixed with molasses. Creating a rawer form of the sugar makes a difference in its texture and how it bakes. Yet, most of the material I’ve read online seems to assume that every kind of brown sugar out there is simply white sugar mixed with molasses. The less expensive forms of brown sugar are moister and tend to taste just a bit caramelized. In addition, what you may be getting is beet sugar, not cane sugar, when you buy the less expensive brands. The less expensive brown sugars may not even be brown all the way through the crystal, which tends to change the result you get.

As to whether there are any health benefits to using real brown sugar, I’ve read a few bits of research that seem to indicate that the real brown sugar has a few extra minerals. However, if you’re diabetic, you still need to take the same precautions with brown sugar that you take with white sugar (or any other sugar). The main differences that you’ll notice is that the items you make with real brown sugar will tend to taste better and your baked goods will come out better. The important thing is to make an informed choice. Choose to read product labels before you purchase items in the store and then take a little time to research what these ingredients are all about. Let me know your thoughts about real brown sugar versus white sugar sprayed with molasses at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.


Author: John

John Mueller is a freelance author and technical editor. He has writing in his blood, having produced 99 books and over 600 articles to date. The topics range from networking to artificial intelligence and from database management to heads-down programming. Some of his current books include a Web security book, discussions of how to manage big data using data science, a Windows command -line reference, and a book that shows how to build your own custom PC. His technical editing skills have helped over more than 67 authors refine the content of their manuscripts. John has provided technical editing services to both Data Based Advisor and Coast Compute magazines. He has also contributed articles to magazines such as Software Quality Connection, DevSource, InformIT, SQL Server Professional, Visual C++ Developer, Hard Core Visual Basic, asp.netPRO, Software Test and Performance, and Visual Basic Developer. Be sure to read John’s blog at http://blog.johnmuellerbooks.com/. When John isn’t working at the computer, you can find him outside in the garden, cutting wood, or generally enjoying nature. John also likes making wine and knitting. When not occupied with anything else, he makes glycerin soap and candles, which comes in handy for gift baskets. You can reach John on the Internet at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com. John is also setting up a website at http://www.johnmuellerbooks.com/. Feel free to take a look and make suggestions on how he can improve it.