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Difference between White Sugar and Brown Sugar

White sugar and brown sugar are the two most commonly used sweeteners in the world. Both are made from sugarcane or sugar beets and are used in baking, beverages and more. They may have common uses but they are not the same thing. Let us see how white sugar differs from brown sugar!

White Sugar

It is the crystallized sucrose extracted from either sugarcane or sugar beet. It comprises only white sugar, does not contain the molasses. Its production involves extracting juice from the sugarcane or sugar beets which is then boiled to remove the moisture. As the moisture diminishes, the natural sucrose present in the juice begins to crystallize. The crystallized sugar is separated from the molasses.

Sugar not only provides sweetness but also assists in important chemical reactions that occur during cooking and baking. Furthermore, it is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from surroundings. So, its presence in the food helps retain moisture.

Popular varieties of white sugar:

  • Granulated Sugar: It is highly refined multi-purpose sugar. It is also known as a table or white sugar.
  • Caster Sugar: It is the superfine granulated white sugar. It is also known as baker's sugar or superfine sugar.
  • Confectioner's Sugar: It is also known as powdered sugar. It is the white sugar which has been ground into a fine powder.
  • Pearl Sugar: It has a coarse, hard texture with an opaque color. It is also called nib sugar or hail sugar.
  • Sanding Sugar: It has large crystals, used to add extra texture and crunch to cookies and other baked goods.
  • Lump Sugar or Sugar Cubes: It is the regular white sugar which has been pressed into lumps or cubes for convenient measuring.

Brown Sugar

It is made by mixing white sugar crystals with a small amount of molasses which gives brown sugar its characteristic color and rich flavour. The molasses are hygroscopic so baked goods prepared with brown sugar can retain moisture well. It also has more minerals than white sugar due to the presence of molasses.

Furthermore, brown sugar provides extra flavour and moisture than white sugar. It is commonly used in the baked goods, beverages, sauces, and marinades. Some varieties of brown sugar are also used in alcoholic beverages like rum.

Popular varieties of brown sugar:

  • Light Brown Sugar: It is the most common variety of brown sugar used for baking. It generally contains around 3.5 percent molasses by weight.
  • Dark Brown Sugar: It contains around 6.5 percent molasses by weight and is used to provide the extra rich flavour and color to the food items.
  • Raw Sugar: It is the natural brown sugar which still contains the residues of molasses after the refining process. The crystals are generally larger and less moist than regular commercial brown sugar. Turbinado, Muscovado and Demerara are some other popular varieties of brown sugar.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between brown sugar and white sugar are as follows:

Brown Sugar White Sugar
It comprises sugar crystals and molasses. It comprises only white sugar crystals.
It is slightly less sweet. It is sweeter than brown sugar.
It has moist and clumpy texture. It has dry and grainy texture.
It is a least refined form of sugar. It is heavily refined.
It has slightly fewer calories than white sugar, e.g. 377 per 100 g. It has slightly more calories than brown sugar, e.g. 387 per 100g.
It contains slightly more minerals than white sugar. It contains fewer minerals than brown sugar.
It has more liquid than white sugar. It has less liquid than brown sugar.
It adds more moisture and deep colour to baked goods. It adds less moisture and colour to baked goods than brown sugar.
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