Most Americans think of piles of refined white sugar when they think of sugar. This is the most common type of sugar you'll find at grocery stores, bakeries, and commercial kitchens. Refined white sugar can be made from sugar cane or sugar beets, and it is a common sight in the homes of many Americans today. It's got one flavor: sweet! Luckily, there are other types of sugar that have a more complex flavor profile that is much more interesting than just the one dimensional "sweet" white sugar. Demerara is one of these sugars, raw from the sugar cane, and it will absolutely change your perceptions of what sugar can taste like. This sugar has become popular in European countries but is beginning to gain popularity in the United States for its interesting flavor and beautiful color, making it a great choice for bakers and bar tenders alike, because who doesn't love a good, crunchy sugar rimmed margarita.
Demerara sugar, pronounced "Dem-err-rare-a", is a harder to find exotic sugar. Today Demerara sugar is primarily sourced from Hawaii, India, Mexico and an island nation located southeast of the African continent called Mauritius.
- History of Demerara Sugar
- How is Demerara Sugar Made?
- Where is it from?
- Is Demerara Sugar Brown Sugar?
- Is Demerara Sugar Raw Sugar?
- Is Demerara Sugar Healthier?
- Cooking with Demerara Sugar
- What Does Demerara Sugar Taste Like?
- Meeting Your Business Needs with Our Products
- Substitutions and Conversions
- Read More
Demerara Sugar gets its name from where it was originally grown, the colony of Demerara in South America, located in what we know today as the Guianas. The Guianas are made up of French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname, which was formerly called Dutch Guiana. The history of this sugar however is tense with a background in slavery and unfair treatment to African workers who were forced into terrible working conditions by colonizers, in some cases even after slavery was outlawed in Britain and all British colonies thanks to the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. The British put a lot of pressure on other global powers to end slavery, though it wouldn't end in the United States until 1865, but this is another story. The story of Demerara sugar has a lot to do with a man named Sir John Gladstone, a man who had one of the biggest plantations and the most slaves in the Guianas, and so has generated a lot of interest and historical documentation. Through all this documentation, we can get a sense of what life was like on the plantations for the slaves who were used exclusively for their cheap or unpaid labor to harvest crops, demerara sugar included.
Unfortunately, his slaves were treated extremely poorly. Slaves on these sugar plantations attempting to run from their terrible living and working conditions four times as often as slaves on nearby coffee plantations due to the intense and frequent beatings they endured. Demarara plantation owners were rather forward thinking in how they ran their plantation operations, including how they harvested water, even though they were incredibly abusive to their workers and overworked them and abused them to the point of physical exhaustion. This was one of the first areas that used methods to redirect water to and from the ocean to either expand land or pull water in using dams and manmade paths for the water. We know that as soon as Africans were no longer forced into slavery in this area, many plantation owners, Gladstone included, immediately tried to get indentured servants from India and other countries to work on their plantations in an arrangement that today looks very much like the same type of slavery but with different people and a different name so it looked "less bad." Eventually the plantations lost their popularity and Demerara Sugar was cast to the wayside for refined white sugar. More recently however, Demarara Sugar plantations have had a resurgence as an economically profitable crop and people who live in the Guianas have been able to take part in this global trend and earn some more money for themselves. Today Demerara sugar is a source of pride for the Guianas, as it has garnered more and more international attention as the years go on. It is especially gaining popularity in the United States where it has found residence as a decorative sugar in many baked goods and as part of savory recipes.
Sugar canes are harvested and transported to a sugar mill. Here they are shredded into smaller pieces or left whole and pressed through a hydraulic press to extract the liquid. Once extracted, the liquid is left to form crystals on its own. The crystals form when the liquids evaporate from the solids in the juice, leaving behind these sugar structures. The crystals are harvested and retain their natural brown color. These sugar crystals are called Demerara Sugar.
Our Demerara Sugar comes from the United States.
No, demerara sugar is not brown sugar. Brown sugar is refined white sugar that has been combined with a bit of molasses, while demerara sugar comes from the first crystallization that occurs as sugar cane juice is processed into sugar crystals. The process that created demerara sugar is similar to naturally evaporating cane juice. Demerara sugar's brown color and natural caramel like flavor hasn't been as severely processed, whereas brown sugar is heavily processed, as it is a blend of refined white sugar and molasses and color that have been added back in.
Yes, Demerara Sugar is a raw sugar. Raw sugar comes from the first stage of the cane sugar refining process, right before the molasses would be removed in the refined white sugar making process. There are several types of raw sugar including muscovado or Barbados sugar and turbinado sugar.
Some claim that because Demerara is a raw sugar,it is healthier than refined white sugar. This sugar does have some trace minerals and a nutritional value that is slightly different from refined sugar, but when it comes down to it, Demerara Sugar is still a sugar and should be viewed and used as such. Though it has a more complex flavor than refined white sugar, we would not consider it a healthier option.
Demerara Sugar adds unexpected flavor complexity and we use it in coffee, cakes, cookies and as a topping for crème brulee, French toast, muffins, oatmeal and scones. We also like to use it to caramelize grilled fruit like apricots, bananas, figs and peaches. For a savory application add it to grilled tomatoes or barbecue sauces. One of our favorite recipes using Demerara Sugar is Jalapeno Cornbread.
Demerara sugar has a fairly large grain and a lovely place amber color to it. It is somewhat crunchy and has a subtle molasses flavor with some caramel undertones that is very reminiscent of toffee.
Demerara sugar has great use all over the place! It's popular with our bakery customers who love the texture, and coffee shops love it too for its unique flavor. We've even had several customers who produce edibles for marijuana dispensaries scoop up some of our demerara sugar for use in their gourmet medicinal products. Some of our customers are distillers who love the flavor of demerara sugar in their alcoholic beverages. Buy Demerara Sugar in bulk for your bakery or distillery needs, especially if you are looking to experiment with different flavors or textures.
You can use regular white sugar as a replacement for demerara sugar, though it will lack the depth of flavor that you would get with a raw sugar, like turbinado sugar. If you are looking for a similar flavor and color, try light brown sugar. In a pinch, you could replace demerara sugar with sugar from a piloncillo cone, though piloncillo sugar has a more complex flavor profile.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
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