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Also Known as
Chini, sakhar, shakkar
We are born with a liking for sweetness, and most people continue to enjoy sweet foods throughout their lifetime. Sugar is a crystalline, usually white sweetener that technically is a carbohydrate and is known as sucrose. It is made primarily from sugar beets and sugarcane. Sugar also comes from the maple tree, sorghum plant, and certain palms, such as wild date palms. It has properties that are essential to the structure, texture, and appearance of many recipes, especially baked goods.
Sugars are a type of carbohydrate made by plants. It is a class of edible crystalline substances including sucrose, lactose, and fructose. Common table sugar (sucrose) is made from sugar beets or sugar cane. Human taste buds interpret its flavor as sweet.
Sugar as a basic food carbohydrate primarily comes from sugar cane and from sugar beet, but also appears in fruit, honey, sorghum, sugar maple (in maple syrup), and in many other sources
Sugar has become an ingredient so widely used in everyday cooking and eating that many people take it for granted. But sugar was once so costly that only the wealthy could afford this sweet luxury.
How to Select
Sugar is available in a variety of types. Choose the appropriate one as desired. Check the packaging date and ensure that it is dry and has no moisture. Its free movement and dry granules best tells about its quality and freshness.
· Sugar dissolves in water to form syrup. Generically known as "syrups", often flavoured with fruit pulps or artificial essence.
· It forms the main ingredient in much candy.
· In culinary terms, the foodstuff known as sugar delivers a primary taste sensation of sweetness.
· A morning cup of tea or coffee is incomplete without sugar.
· Sugar is not only used to sweeten foods but is used to retain the colour in ketchup.
· It is added to bake goods for yeast growth and to give a golden colour to the crusts.
· In soft drinks, it adds mass.
· Raw potatoes in restaurant's are dipped in sugar water before frying to give them their crispness.
· The sugar molecule is able to hold water, contributing to a weight gain from water retention.
· Enhance and Smooth Flavors- Sugar blends, enhances and balances flavors like a seasoning. Add a pinch of sugar to corn, carrots and peas to improve taste. Reduce the acidic bite of tomato-based barbecue, spaghetti, and chili sauces with a touch of sugar. Even savory sauces, soups and gravies can benefit from a little white or brown sugar.
· Modify Texture-Sugar is creamed with shortening in baked goods for a good reason. Irregular sugar crystals create thousands of tiny air pockets that produce a delicate and satisfying crumb structure and expanded volume.
· In shortening-based cakes, sugar delays and controls the temperature at which the batter goes from fluid to solid, allowing the leavening agent (e.g., baking powder) to produce the maximum amount of carbon dioxide. The gas is held inside the air cells of the structure, resulting in a fine, uniformly-grained cake with a soft, smooth crumb texture.
· In foam-type cakes, such as angel and sponge, sugar acts as a whipping aid, helping produce light foam that serves as the basic structure of the cake.
· Impart Color-Heating sugar causes it to decompose or "caramelize." The color changes to yellow, then to brown, and it develops a unique and appealing flavor and aroma. The brown color of toasted bread is the result of caramelization. Melting sugar in a saucepan creates caramel. Color is also produced in cooking when sugars and proteins interact in complex ways. This is known as the browning (Mallard) reaction, useful in candy making and baking.
· Preserve- as a rule, moist foods spoil faster than dry ones. Sugar is nature's preservative, because it readily binds "loose" water. High sugar levels in icings, jams, jellies, syrups and sauces make them much more immune to developing yeasts and molds compared to thinner, watery items like applesauce or pancake batter. Sugar is so effective at tying up moisture in foods that objectionable microorganisms never get a foothold in thick sugary syrups and spreads, even when they're not refrigerated. Of course candy, which almost all sugar, rarely spoils. Sometimes, moisture is desirable.
· Disperse-Sugar can help prevent lumping and clumping. Instead of individually adding dry ingredients like spices, starch and baking powder to a batter or liquid, first mix them with sugar.
· Microwave- Sugar's unique dielectric properties enable it to produce desired surface browning and crisping. Sugar in a microwave recipe can minimize uneven heating.
· Dissolve - Sugar is extremely soluble: just a pint of hot water can dissolve five pounds to produce a supersaturated solution. This unique property enables confectioners to almost magically create wonderful syrups and creamy fondants and fudge.
How to Store
Sugar has an infinite shelf life. They should be kept tightly capped and used within 1 year. Humidity and moisture will cause salt to clump and stick together. Do not store salt in silver containers. If you store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, all sugars will keep indefinitely.
· Like all carbohydrates, sugar provides energy. Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for working muscles. Not eating enough carbohydrate makes it difficult to be physically active and can make us feel sluggish.
· Sugar is so harmful is that like heroin it is addictive, and being delectable and seductive to the taste, it is also habit forming. Starting with sugar in the baby's formula, people not only develop a strong taste for sugar but an insatiable craving for it so that they never seem to get enough of this poison.
· The damage sugar does is slow and insidious. It takes years before it ruins your pancreas, your adrenal glands, throws your whole endocrine system out of kilter and produces a huge list of damage.
· If you examine the "foods" in any supermarket more closely and start reading labels, you will find just about everything contains sugar. Most of the foods are loaded with it - from cereals, to soups, to ketchup, to hotdogs.
· Sugar is by far the leading cause of dental deterioration - cavities in teeth, bleeding gums, failure of bone structure, and loss of teeth.
· Sugar is the main cause of diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
· It is either a significant or contributory cause of heart disease, arteriosclerosis, mental illness, depression, senility, hypertension, cancer.
· It has an extremely harmful effect in unbalancing the endocrine system and injuring its component glands such as the adrenal glands, pancreas and liver, causing the blood sugar level to fluctuate widely. It has a number of other extremely damaging effects on the human body.
· Increases chronic fatigue
· Can trigger binge eating in those with bulimia
· Increases PMS symptoms
· Increases hyperactivity in about 50% of children
· Increases anxiety and irritability
· Can make it difficult to lose weight because of constantly high insulin levels, which causes the body to store excess carbs as fat.
· Sugar possesses antibiotic properties and can be used to heal wounds.
· A pinch of sugar on the tongue is a traditional remedy for hiccups.
· A teaspoon of sugar after a hot curry will extinguish the furnace in your mouth.