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Elizabeth_11

Sugar!

59 posts in this topic

Another excellent article. Thanks, Dave (and FG).

It awoke vague memories of levo- vs dextro- molecular construction. Isn't that the difference between sucrose (levo) and dextrose (dextro, duh)? So it would be interesting to do yet another experiment on cane/beet sugar vs corn sweeteners. (Don't look at me, though! :blink: I barely passed chemistry.)

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Thanks Dave!

A great article. I shall read it for the second time tonight.

In India we mostly use cane sugar...

Thanks also for the pictures. :smile:

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Dave:

Thanks for your detective fine work, Sweetie( :smile: ) and the usual excellent writing.

I've used all three of the brands you tested, and found no discernable difference. I'm not, of course, a professional pastry chef who has to tame sugar for a living!

And that lego injury brought it all back. Yow!


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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It awoke vague memories of levo- vs dextro- molecular construction.  Isn't that the difference between sucrose (levo) and dextrose (dextro, duh)?  So it would be interesting to do yet another experiment on cane/beet sugar vs corn sweeteners.  (Don't look at me, though!  :blink:  I barely passed chemistry.)

Do you mean levulose, Suzanne? If so, then you're sort of right. Sucrose can be broken apart into glucose and levulose (also known as fructose, or fruit sugar). But then, glucose and dextrose are pretty much the same thing, and one form of it is called...dextroglucose. :wacko:

I am just chock full of unused facts at this point. An interesting thing I ran across was a controversy about detecting maple syrup adultered with corn sweeteners. Caveat emptor.

I *also* barely passed chemistry, as you can tell. But we both cook, which makes us practical, rather than theoretical, chemists. Also physicists (though not on the order of our esteemed Dr. Johnson. Of course.)

Suvir, the distribution of cane vs. beet sugar cultivation is, as you allude, mostly related to climate. But there is also a long, complicated and sad story to be told about sugar that continues to this day.

Maggie: :wub: Obviously I'm not a pastry chef, either, and I wouldn't presume to advise one. But for most of us, any sugar will do. It might be wise to pick a brand and stick to it, at least for things that are touchy.

I swear, there is no greater pain than bare feet on Legos. Especially the smaller ones.

Thank all of you for your kind words. (BTW, that is my daughter behind the "glasses." Unfortunately, the picture does not do her justice.)


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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(BTW, that is my daughter behind the "glasses." Unfortunately, the picture does not do her justice.)

It sure does. She's gorgeous.

I printed out the article to show to His Handsomeness, the perpetual sceptic. And, in another life, a tech writer for Underwriters Laboratories.

Reaction: "No duh! Pastrychefs are weird, man. The chemistry says it all."

From him, a huge accolade.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Great article! It may seem silly, but this information is really important when you're dealing with fine tolerances in a recipe.

So now how about tackling brown sugar? :biggrin:

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NSM: Seriously, what would you hope to find out? There are many more variables in brown sugar: in addition to cane/beet, there's moisture, molasses content, production methods. :blink: An experiment would have to be very carefully outlined.

If you can send samples of C&H (we can't get it here, and they seem to have a more comprehensive manufacturing method), it might be interesting.

Maggie: thanks. (Caitie thanks you, too.) Also thanks and Hello to HH from another ex-tech writer.


Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Wow. EXCELLENT work Dave! I can't believe my thread inspired an article/experiment! yay! Very cool, mad props for taking the time and effort to do that. (heh, I just said "mad props" didn't I?) :unsure::raz:


-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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NSM: Seriously, what would you hope to find out? There are many more variables in brown sugar: in addition to cane/beet, there's moisture, molasses content, production methods. :blink: An experiment would have to be very carefully outlined.

If you can send samples of C&H (we can't get it here, and they seem to have a more comprehensive manufacturing method), it might be interesting.

Maggie: thanks. (Caitie thanks you, too.) Also thanks and Hello to HH from another ex-tech writer.

Sorry - I was kidding (mostly). :unsure: Although because of all the variables you mention, knowing what the differences are between brands would be extremely useful. I certainly didn't expect you to jump right on it.

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My father (a scientist) said the same thing about cane and beet sugars being the same. You are wrong. They perform differently. Beet sugar is more difficult to caramelise. Try them side by side if you don't believe me.

This is interesting, as in dave Cooks experiments here, he found that the beet sugar caramelized a bit faster than the cane sugar.


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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My father (a scientist) said the same thing about cane and beet sugars being the same. You are wrong. They perform differently. Beet sugar is more difficult to caramelise. Try them side by side if you don't believe me.

This is interesting, as in dave Cooks experiments here, he found that the beet sugar caramelized a bit faster than the cane sugar.

Please note that I fudged a tiny bit on the exact timing. But certainly beet sugar didn't take longer. The pictures at the top of the story show the results of this part of the test. Beet on the left, cane on the right.

Sorry - I was kidding (mostly).  Although because of all the variables you mention, knowing what the differences are between brands would be extremely useful. I certainly didn't expect you to jump right on it.

Well, I'm not going to start in on it tomorrow. Another part of the problem is that there is no dispute over whether or not there is a difference between different brands of brown sugar. Clearly there is. The Big Question is how different brands/colors perform, and if they offer advantages that can be exploited.

But if we could decide what we wanted to find out more specifically, I'd be up for a sequel, keeping in mind that the equipment at Dave Labs is rather rudimentary.


Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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A bazillion years ago, a friend and I took a candy making class. They told us that they use cane, not beet, sugar to make candy because when you cook (boil) beet sugar, it boils up much higher in the pan than cane sugar. More likely to boil over.

Why is this? Is this even true?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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How about piloncillo? Anyone use it?


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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A bazillion years ago, a friend and I took a candy making class.  They told us that they use cane, not beet, sugar to make candy because when you cook (boil) beet sugar, it boils up much higher in the pan than cane sugar.  More likely to boil over.

Why is this?  Is this even true?

Snowangel: I didn't test this specifically. However, I did test making caramel on the stovetop. This is why I like these follow-up sessions. I can throw in a few things I learned that didn't really fit.

I didn't include the test because:

1) It was much harder to ensure identical conditions -- the heat of the pan, the color of the sugar as it caramelized, the distribution of sugar in the pan, the temperature and humidity of the environment -- all of these contributed to what I felt were inadequate circumstances for reporting purposes; all of these defects were resolved by the setup for broiling;

2) The results appeared to be the same as for the broiled caramel;

3) The article was running too long already.

I put 200 grams of sugar and 4 fluid ounces of water in a stainless steel saucier and applied medium heat. I stirred very gently until the sugar dissolved, then left it alone until the mixture turned a medium brown. The timing for each type of sugar was virtually identical.

I did not note any foaming action. This doesn't mean it didn't happen, only that I didn't note it, because it wasn't on my list of things to watch. However:

-- I feel certain that had one type of sugar behaved in any significantly different manner, I would have made notes to that effect.

-- The mixture was approximately 12 ounces (by volume) in a 3-quart pan; in other words, the space was only about 12% occupied, and in no danger of boiling up. This might not be conducive to creating the situation you describe. In candy-making, I think you would use more of the pan, if you follow me, and the situation, if it were to occur, would be riskier.

It's pretty hard to find out what makes up the last 0.05% of refined white sugar, especially if you want to know how it might vary according to source. But what I did find out was that the largest component is ash (left over from the refining process), followed by potassium, sodium and a litany of elements in extremely minute quantities. This is always expressed without reference to beet or cane sugar. It could be that analysis of sugar regardless of source renders the same results, or that these are composite results. I just don't know.

Ash is inert. In combination with certain other elements, potassium and sodium can precipitate or participate in chemical reactions, but they are present in such small amounts that it's hard (though not impossible) to believe that they would lead to big differences in the way beet and cane sugar behave in the presence of heat.

I haven't made a study of candy making; I don't make candy even for fun. But I did look at the candy sections of the cookbooks in my collection, and not a one mentions a difference between cane and beet sugar. I find this significant.

The most likely cause of boiling up would be moisture. Certainly if you are using brown sugar this could happen, at least until the water had evaporated (though the moisture content even in brown sugar is rather small). But the difference would not relate to cane or beet source, it would relate to the moisture in the molasses that is added to white sugar to make it brown. White sugar is extremely dry. This is why, among all the refined vegetable products in your pantry (corn flour and meal, all types of wheat flour, pasta, cereals, etc.), sugar has by far the longest shelf life, and is least amenable to supporting insect colonies.

Finally, I would suggest that you try it yourself and see what happens. You shouldn't take my word for it, or the word of anybody else, especially when you have the means to test it. Then let us know.


Dave Scantland
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How about piloncillo?  Anyone use it?

Jaymes: I haven't tried it, but I ran across it in my research. I'm going to give it a shot, maybe as a topping for some kind of cake. It might also be interesting in beverages -- coffe, tea, hot chocolate.

Got any tips? How do you use it?


Dave Scantland
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Great article Dave. Interesting that the carmelisation process was almost identical for both sugar types, as I would have thought that the smaller grains would melt more rapidly then the larger grains. Could depend on the heat source I guess. Radiant V Direct heat? Blowtorch V Hot Grill V Iron Salamander?

I wonder how different brown sugars of the two plants tastes, given the different sugar composition of the molasses and granule size. Could be tested by doing, now standardised "Brownies fed to work mates" test. :smile:

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Thanks, Adam.

I also would have expected the granule size to make a difference. Originally I was going to use a blowtorch, but I'm not handy enough to set up a proper jig. Also, if I'm doing a half-dozen creme brulees, I'm probably going to set 'em on a tray and pop 'em under the broiler, so the test scenario seemed pretty realistic. I don't have a salamander :sad: , or I would have tried it.

You're out of luck on a brown sugar taste-off. Beet sugar molasses is used to make animal feed, yeast, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. All molasses used to make brown sugar comes from cane.

And they say irony is dead.


Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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...standardised "Brownies fed to work mates" test. :smile:

If you're thinking of adopting this practice for your parasite research, I'd be honored to advise you. Even have a few subjects in mind...


Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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How about piloncillo?  Anyone use it?

Jaymes: I haven't tried it, but I ran across it in my research. I'm going to give it a shot, maybe as a topping for some kind of cake. It might also be interesting in beverages -- coffe, tea, hot chocolate.

Got any tips? How do you use it?

Piloncillo (pe-loan-SEE-yo) is a Mexican brown sugar product. Any of you that have wandered through the Mexican section of your local stores have undoubtedly seen it and wondered what it was.

It's brown - the color of brown sugar - usually about two inches long or so - in a conical shape with a flat bottom and top. It's wrapped in cellophane.

As for an exact definition, I decided it's best to defer to the experts and so I am quoting here from Rick Bayless:

"In the olden days of our country [i think he means the U.S. in this reference], sugar was sold in huge cones. That's still the case for the unrefined sugar called piloncillo (little pylon). In much of southern Mexico the same sugar is formed into a round loaf shape and called panela or, in some places, formed into an even rougher round or square for the very coarse (usually darker and more molassesy) panocha. Any of these can range in color from light brown to almost black (the later being the stronger flavored).

"In sugar making, cane juice is boiled down and, without further refinement (to remove the molasses), poured into molds to cool and crystalize. What comes out is hard and strong-flavored, usually stronger tasting than dark brown sugar, but not as strong as molasses.

"Piloncillo is sold in Mexican groceries in the States in small cones that weigh about an ounce or larger cones that weigh about seven ounces. I find it easiest to let them dissolve in whatever liquid I have in my recipe, though, with determination, they may be chopped with a large knife or cleaver (whole cones can break a food processor, so watch out)."

In my own case, if a recipe does not call for a liquid to dissolve them in, I put them into a ziplock bag and break apart with a hammer.

To give you a rough idea of the equivalency, I have a recipe for Bread Pudding with Pumpkin, and topped with a Rum Sauce.

The rum sauce recipe calls for:

1/2 lb piloncillo or 1 1/2 C tightly-packed brown sugar


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm in a baking class, and can't seem to get certain questions answered. We have a 5 gallon bucket of malt (liquid), but it smells and tastes almost exactly like molasses to me. Any reason for this? I'm only familliar with powdered malt. Doesn't taste like molasses at all.

Someone? Mayday!

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Malt is made by soaking, germinating, and then drying a grain . This converts the starches in the grain to sugars. When the grain is boiled in water the sugars dissolve you have malt extract (which is what you have).

By the way, this is how beer is made. If you add yeast and hops to the malt and let it ferment beer is the result. I think malt extract is added to bagels too.

The stuff added to shakes to make malt is called malted milk, I don't know exactly how it is produced.

Edit: malted milk is a mixture of cow's milk and extracts of malted barley and wheat.


Edited by guajolote (log)

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Just another thanks for the article, D the C. I'm a big fan of debunking - also, have you read Steingarten on salt? Similar results vis a vis the crystal size making up most of the difference in the taste test.


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Thank you, Liza.

No, I haven't read Steingarten. I think if I had, I wouldn't have published this for fear of being thought cribbing.

I did get one of his books for Christmas; I'll get to it right after the Babbo and Zuni Cafe cookbooks.


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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