Home Distillation of Alcohol (Homemade Alcohol to Drink)
Information about Sugars
For more details about sugar, see the Sugar
Wal summarises ...
Sugars are important to distillers. I found the various terms
confusing, so I searched around and made some notes from various web
Sugar is the chemical sucrose that occurs naturally in plants.
'Saccharum officinarum' is the species of basic importance to the
history of the sugarcane industry.
The first evidence of crystal sugar production appears at about 500
BC in Sanskrit texts that indicate it took place in northern India.
Knowledge of this technique spread from northern India eastward to
China and (along with the cultivation of sugarcane) westward into
Persia, eventually reaching the east coast of the Mediterranean about
The sugar industry entered the Mediterranean basin as part of an
agricultural revolution carried out by the Arabs. To mill sugarcane,
the burgeoning industry borrewed existing Mediterranean technology
for extracting olives and nuts and, in a second operation, used screw
presses to obtain more juice from the bagasse. The juice was then
clarified, reduced to the point of crystallisation in open pans over
furnaces, and the resulting syrup was placed in conical pots from
which the molasses drained, leaving a loaf of sugar in each pot.
It was only after 1700 that sugar was transformed from a luxury
product into one of everyday use by even the poor. This took place as
Brazil and the new West Indies colonies began producing sugar in such
large quantiities that price was significantly reduced.
From http://us.cambridge.org/Books/kiple/sugar.htm ...
The above process is still common. This is unrefined non-centrifugal
sugar. In India it is called 'khandsari', 'jaggery' or 'gur'. In
Latin America it is called 'chancaca', 'panela', 'raspadura' or
'piloncillo'. The sticky brown sugar variant is the mixture that
comes out of the crystallising pan. The liquid molasses remaining
after this first boiling and removal of the crystallised sugar is
called a 'light molasses'. When boiled again, the molasses remaining
is called a 'dark molasses'. After a third boiling the remaining
molasses is called 'blackstrap molasses'. This is normally used as
cattle food and alcohol. The darker sugarcane jaggery is produced
from these later boilings.
Types of sugar :
Rum may be made from either fresh cane juice, cane syrup, or from
- The nearly pure sugar crystal formed by the crystallisation process
is covered by a thin film of molasses which is not stable in storage,
and needs to be further purified to yield the stable, pure sweet
sugar. Centrifuges are used to drain the molasses off from the
sucrose crystals in the first stage. It is further refined to produce
white sugar crystals. See 'How Sugar is Refined'
and 'Growing and
For the different types of sugars see 'Cook's Thesaurus:Sugar'
The size of the crystal determines the refined sugar's use:
- Standard white granulated sugar.
- Confectioner's/Icing/Powdered sugar - pulverised, and usually with
about 3% cornstarch to prevent lumping.
- Superfine/Ultrafine/Castor sugar - finely granulated. Dissolves well
in cold water.
- Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallisable sugars as well as some
In England, molasses is called treacle. The sucrose remaining in the
molasses can be inverted to produce a honey-like syrup containing
glucose and fructose which ensures that crystallisation does not
occur during storage.
- Raw sugar is approximately 96-98% sucrose. Unrefined or partially
refined natural sugars tend to vary in color and have many names
depending on their country of origin:
- Demerara (UK) - golden brown crystal sugar from first step of
refinement (not moist)
- Raw sugar (n Australia) - golden crystal sugar similar to Demerara
- Turbinado - light brown sugar (not moist)
- Muscovado - dark brown sugar made by crystallising dark syrups (not
- (Moist brown sugars these days are produced by adding molasses to
- Beet sugar is derived from sugar beets and is also pure sucrose like
- Beet sugar molasses though is not used for human consumption.
- Palm sugar is similar to sugarcane jaggery or gur and is produced
from the sap of palms, including the coconut palm.
- Golden Syrup is made from thickened cane syrup which is partially
- Light and Dark Treacles are made from partially inverted light and