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Sugar is a crystal compound containing carbohydrates. To most people, sugar means table sugar that is basically sucrose. Sucrose is made from sugarcane juice. In fact, there are many types of sugars imparting varying degrees of sweetness. The main characteristic of sugar is its sweet taste that makes most of the sweet dishes. Sugar usually comes in crystalline form and highest quality sugar is pure white in color. Though there are hundreds of sugar recipes that are popular throughout the world but some of them are sugar candies, ice creams, puddings and caramel.

History of Sugar

The origin of sugar is believed to be in Indian subcontinent. Initially, honey was the only sweetening agent around the world. In Indian language sugar is called ‘sharkara’ and its household name is ‘cheeni’.

Culinary Use of Sugar

Sugar is an indispensable part of cooking. Almost all desserts, sweet drinks, chocolates and toffees contain sugar in some or the other form. Even in savory dishes, sugar is added to give flavor. Sugar dishes such as cakes, pastries, and muffins are quiet popular in global cuisines. Sugar dishes are an integral part of any meal and well-liked by people of all ages. Sugar can either be added to sugar dishes in crystal form or it can be added in the form of sugar syrups. Cake and pastry icing includes icing sugar that is in the form of fine powder. It is also called ‘castor sugar’. Jams, jellies, marmalades and even various sauces and spreads are also made up of sugar.

Popular Sugar Recipes

• Caramel – It is one of the most popular sugar recipes across the world. Caramel is basically made by dissolving sugar in water and boiling it until thick.

• Sugar cookies – One of the easiest sugar dishes that are made while baking.

• Ice creams – Almost all types of ice creams include sugar.

• Jams – Fruits jams include sugar to give sweet taste to the recipe.

• Frosting – Any kind of frosting recipe is incomplete without sugar.

Cuisines Commonly Making Sugar Dishes

Sugar is an ingredient that is used by almost all cuisines in the world. Sugar dishes vary from cuisine to cuisine. Some cuisines, like European and American cuisines include baked sugar dishes where as Indian and Pakistani cuisines include sugar dishes that are mostly fried. America’s popular sweet dishes include ice creams, cookies, cakes and pastries. Kheer, halwa, burfi and Laddo are the most popular Indian and Pakistani sweet dishes. In Pakistani cuisine, a famous rice dish called ‘zarda’ is made up of sweet rice decorated with dry fruits. It is a part of traditional meal in Pakistani cuisine. In Southeast Asian cuisines, sugar dishes mainly include toffee apples, sugar candies and caramelized fruits. Various savory sauces such as sweet and sour sauce and chili sauce also contain little amounts of sugar. Tea, coffee and juices are also some common drinks that contain sugar depending upon the individual’s taste.

Preferred Methods of Cooking Sugar Dishes

• Baked – Cakes, pastries, cookies and muffins are some of the popular baked sweet dishes.

• Dissolved – Sugar is often dissolved before adding to any sweet dish.

• Frozen – Ice-cream, puddings and sorbets are some such sugar dishes that are made with this method.

• Fried – Indian sweets such as gulab jamun, malpua and jalebi are fried sugar recipes.

• Boiled – Sweet dishes such as kheer, rice pudding and milk puddings involves boiling.

• Caramelized – Some sugar recipes call for caramalization such as caramel pudding and caramel apple.

Nutritive Value of Sugar

Some of the nutritional benefits of sugar are as follows:

• Together with starch, sugars are one of the main types of energy-providing carbohydrates.

• Sugar also contains very little amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibers.

• Sugar dishes keeps you full for a longer period of time.

Consumption Criteria of Sugar and Sugar Dishes

Sugar is an integral part in culinary world but consumption of sugar and sugary products in excess could be harmful for health. Here are some drawbacks of sugar consumption:

• Too mush sugar causes tooth decay.

• Sugar and sugar dishes are harmful for diabetic patients.

• Sugar also has a suppressant effect on the appetite.

• Excess consumption of sugar dishes may increase body weight to some extent.

Buying and Storing of Sugar

Sugar should be purchased from a trustworthy grocery store as low-quality sugar may contain foreign particles that are harmful for health. High-quality processed sugar should be purchased for better results. While storing sugar it should be kept in mind that sugar should be kept away from heat and moisture. Room temperature is best for storing sugar. Cooked sugar dishes should be kept in refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Types of Sugar

• White sugar – It is one of the most common types of sugar usually called ‘table sugar’. It is the highly processed sugar made from sugarcane juice.

• Raw sugar – It is the variety of sugar obtained at the initial stage of white sugar processing. Raw sugar is lightly brown in color and has a coarse texture.

• Brown sugar – Brown sugar is made with the addition of molasses in white sugar.

• Confectioner’s sugar – This sugar is also known as ‘castor sugar’. It is basically powdered sugar and mainly used in baked sugar dishes.

Sugar Trivia

• Hiccups can be stopped by putting a pinch of sugar on the tip of the tongue.

• Sugar is also used as a dye and printer’s ink.