Turbinado sugar is a less refined brown sugar that can be used as an ingredient or sprinkled on top of your food for an aesthetically pleasing look. This sugar is sometimes called Evaporated Cane Juice, which is a misleading way to name it. This implies that it has something to do with juice when it is just another type of sugar crystals. Turbinado sugar gets its name from the process used to make it, where the sugar cane juice is spun out in a turbine. While less refined than white sugar, this sugar does not offer any significant health benefits and is mostly swapped out as a replacement for white sugar for aesthetic or flavor purposes, not for its health benefits.
Turbinado sugar has a history that likely spans all the way back to the 17th century. Most historians believe that it originated in the Americas sometime during this time, but there is no definitive date or documentation on when it was invented. It is quite similar to demerara sugar, and the two were probably made around the same time in history. Today, turbinado sugar has gained some popularity with the health food crowd as it is thought to be a healthier sugar choice than refined white sugar. This is an interesting distinction, as we see a more collective social consciousness focusing on American sugar consumption and how bad it is for our health. Annually, Americans consume about 152 pounds of sugar per person. This is a drastic jump from the 6 pounds per person consumed annually in the 1780s. That's almost 6 cups or 3 pounds every single week!
Turbinado sugar is the unrefined sugar made from sugar cane juice. Sugar cane is pressed under high pressure and the juice is extracted. The liquid from the juice is separated from the solids through evaporation and then it is spun in a centrifuge, or turbine, which separates more liquid and some of the molasses from the sugar. What's left behind are large, light brown crystals, sometimes called blonde crystals. The name turbinado sugar comes from the turbine in which the sugar is spun to remove excess liquid. An important distinction is that turbinado sugar is only processed once to remove liquid, while other sugars are processed many more times to strip them of their coloring and flavor.
Our Turbinado sugar is from Malawi.
You can use Turbinado Sugar in many of the same ways that you would use brown sugar. Use it in cakes, pastries, and sweet sauces. It's good as a finishing sugar, meaning it is good as a decorative ingredient added at the end for aesthetic value, not just for use in cooking. It looks beautiful on top of brownies and cakes or when sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt. It's also delicious if you stir a spoonful of it into your morning coffee. That sweet molasses-like flavor compliments coffee quite nicely. When added on top of foods it gives a delightful crunch and a sweetness that isn't overwhelming, especially to baked goods. Use it to make iced tea or smoothies.
When storing your sugar, keep it in an airtight container. It is prone to hardening up and forming chunks when it is exposed to air. If your sugar does form sugar bricks, you can soften up pieces by putting it in a microwave safe container and microwaving it for about 20 seconds until it breaks up or becomes soft enough to break by hand. This will happen faster if you cover the container with a damp paper towel before microwaving it. Continue to microwave it in ten second intervals if you find that the sugar is being stubborn about becoming soft again. A brown sugar saver would also work for your turbinado sugar! This is a small piece of terra cotta that is wetted and then thrown in with your sugar to keep it moist.
Turbinado sugar does contain some trace minerals that some studies suggest may be better for the body in the long run, but realistically you would need to eat 7 cups of turbinado sugar to get the potassium you would get from eating a single small to medium sized banana. While it may taste better and be less refined, turbinado sugar is still just a form of sugar and cannot be called "healthy" or "better for you" in any significant way. We are not nutritionists or doctors, but we do think that like all things, sugar should be consumed only in moderation. Treat turbinado sugar just as you would treat refined white sugar in your diet.
The differences between these two sugars lies mostly in their crystal size, as turbinado sugar is slightly finer than demerara sugar. It is also less sticky than demerara sugar, as demerara sugar has a higher moisture content than turbinado sugar.
This sugar is sweet with a light caramel or molasses flavor. Because of its minimal processing, it also retains some of the flavor of the cane.
If you do not have Turbinado Sugar on hand, you can use Demerara Sugar instead. They have similar flavor profiles and they are both minimally processed sugars, but demerara sugar is just slightly coarser than turbinado sugar. You may also substitute brown sugar for Turbinado Sugar, though it won't have the same nuanced flavors. Brown sugar is white sugar with the molasses added back into it, but this does not add the flavors of the cane back into the sugar.
If you are using this sugar as a replacement for white sugar, especially in baking, keep in mind that Turbinado sugar will darken light batters because of its darker coloring. You can use this sugar in place of white sugar at a one to one ratio. If you are going for a one cup to one cup ratio, be sure that the turbinado sugar is a tightly packed cup.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
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