When I first saw my brother cutting this in the kitchen, I wondered… What the heck is this boy doing with a bamboo stick? Haha turns out it was actually a sugarcane!! This is basically the processed sugar we eat on a daily basis in it’s unrefined form. Seems kind of weird right? It’s quite deceiving knowing that this comes from the grass family which we all assume is “healthy” although it produces that sweet product that we all try to stay away from lol. I was really curious about how sugar is made and allll these different types that we find at the grocery store.
Here’s a quick run down:
White Sugar: Made from the sugarcane; multiple washings to remove all traces of molasses and give the white color
Molasses: Byproduct syrup after sugar is extracted from the sugarcane; the type of molasses depends on which pressing of the sugar it was collected at (first-light molasses, second-dark, third-blackstrap)-with each pressing the molasses get less sugar than the previous one and become darker and less sweeter
Brown Sugar: Plain white sugar mixed with molasses
Turbinado Sugar: Made from the first pressing of sugarcane- syrup is boiled to produce the crystals and then is spun in a centrifuge to remove the moisture (gets its name from turbinelike centrifuge); retains more of the original flavor
Preparing sugarcane is a relatively easy task. Take a sharp knife and remove the green skin from all around the cane. You will expose the creamy fibrous inside that we see below in the picture. Then you chew and chew until you draw out all the juices/sugar (don’t swallow it!).
For choosing a sugarcane, Walter Nicholls gives us an in depth description in his article on the plant
“In stores, sugar cane may be sold in one-foot sections or six-foot sections. Willie Robson Jr., produce manager for Dean & DeLuca in Georgetown, suggests the following: Choose light-green-fading -to- yellow- colored batons mottled with reddish-brown patches. Avoid white canes and those with cracks or blackened areas. Thin, heavy canes tend to be sweeter than thicker ones. Those with joints that are three to five inches in length are best for skewers and swizzle sticks and easier to eat out of hand. Ask the produce clerk to make a fresh cut on each end of the cane. The best cane has opaque, off-white, moist flesh. Canes are past their prime when the flesh is dry and brown or red.”