Sugar and crystallized cane juice are two sweeteners used in food, but one is much more popular than the other. Sugar, also known as sucrose, is derived from glucose and fructose and obtained from sugar cane or sugar beet. On the other hand, crystallized cane sugar is 100% certified organic sugar cane that undergoes a “first crystallization” process within twenty-four hours of harvest. Unlike traditional white sugars, crystal cane sugar retains the natural blond color of the molasses, resulting in a unique flavor profile compared to conventional sugar.
This raises the question: which sweetener is ultimately better? Let’s delve into the differences to find out.
Comparing Crystallized Cane Juice vs Sugar
|Crystallized Cane Juice
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)
|2 plus years
|2 plus years
|Best for baking
|Desserts and baked goods where richer flavor is required
|Most desserts and sweet baked goods
Differences Between Crystallized Cane Juice and Sugar
Sugar is the name commonly used for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates that are in food. It consists of simple sugars, known as monosaccharides, which include glucose, fructose, and galactose. The most widely recognized type of sugar, sucrose, is composed of glucose and fructose extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet. Refined sugars are derived from natural sources but undergo processing that isolates only the sugar content. For example, granulated sugar obtained from sugar cane or corn syrup derived from corn.
Beyond its sweet taste, sugar serves numerous purposes in food technology. Added sugar is a sweetener, preservative, texture modifier, and coloring agent.
In contrast, crystallized cane sugar, certified as 100% organic, originates from evaporated and clarified sugar cane juice. The crystallization takes place in a vacuum pan, resulting in the formation of solid crystals. These crystals possess a fine-grain texture and carry a pleasant, mild, and neutral flavor. They can be effortlessly dissolved in both liquids and oils, making them versatile for various recipes that require sugar.
Taste and Culinary Uses
Sucrose is widely regarded as the benchmark for sweet taste without any lingering or secondary flavors. Aside from adding sweetness, sugar plays multiple roles in culinary applications. It acts as a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and a bulking agent. In baking, sugar helps add color to baked goods and contributes to their texture and overall appeal. Moreover, sugar finds its way into many sauces, syrups, and beverages, lending viscosity and giving a thicker consistency and improved mouthfeel.
Some sweeteners, such as evaporated cane juice, offer different characteristics. These sugars undergo a single crystallization process, retaining some molasses and trace minerals within the crystals. As a result, organic sugar crystals have a golden hue and may possess a mild, pleasant floral or fruity aroma and flavor. These unique attributes can lend a special touch to dishes and drinks.
Are Crystallized Cane Juice and Sugar Substitutes for Each Other?
Yes, you can substitute crystallized cane juice for regular sugar cup for cup. Also, note that the flavor profiles of the final product may change.
Nutritional Profile And Health Benefits
- Name: Table sugar (granulated sugar, sucrose)
- Serving size: 2 tsp.
- Calories: 30
- Total carbs: 8 g
- Sugars: 8 g
- GI: 65
- Name: Crystallized cane juice
- Serving size: 1 tsp.
- Calories: 15
- Total carbs: 4 g
- Sugars: 4 g
- GI: Sugar cane=43
Sugar and crystallized cane juice offer health benefits due to their quick energy supply in the form of glucose. Glucose is a vital energy source for the body’s cells, tissues, and organs, enabling them to function optimally. Crystallized cane juice is less processed than table sugar and contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Sugar and crystallized cane juice have different implications for specific diets. White cane sugar gets its color from a refining process involving bone char, making it non-vegan and unsuitable for keto, paleo, or Whole30 diets. On the other hand, crystallized cane juice, which is not developed with bone char, is vegan-friendly. However, many forms of cane sugar, including crystallized cane juice, are not compliant with a paleo, keto, or Whole30 diet.
How to Store Crystallized Cane Juice vs Sugar
Crystallized cane juice and sugars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of up to 60%. This helps maintain their quality and prevent clumping. Other sweeteners may have different requirements, so checking individual recommendations for each type is important.
Price and Availability
Sugar prices range from as low as 25 cents per pound to over 5 USD per pound for crystallized cane juice.
The environmental impact of different sweeteners varies significantly. One prime example is burning sugarcane, which negatively affects the environment, primarily through air pollution. The combustion of the leafy parts of sugarcane releases harmful substances which contribute to air pollution and climate change.
Sugarcane processing also generates effluents that can flow into water bodies, causing damage to vital ecological areas. Water quality concerns have prompted restrictions on sugarcane production in certain regions, leading to its expansion on sandy soils. These changes further impact the ecosystem and water resources in these areas.
Crystallized Cane Juice vs Sugar: The Ultimate Verdict
Crystallized cane juice sugar and sugar are easy to swap in baking, and the former has a more interesting taste profile and higher nutritional value, so it is my pick for being better overall. It is definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on some!
Yes, it is. Sugarcane boasts a richer nutrient profile than refined sugar, containing trace amounts of essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, magnesium, and vitamin B1 (thiamine).
Refined cane sugar undergoes extensive processing, and evaporated cane juice retains more of the natural nutrients present in sugar cane. Both sweeteners are derived from sugar cane, but cane juice is minimally processed, making it a healthier alternative.
Cane sugar undergoes a process known as “first crystallization.” Once the cane is harvested, the juice is extracted, and any impurities are eliminated. Within twenty-four hours of the harvest, the sugar is crystallized.