Sugar cane is indigenous to Polynesia but would make its way to India about 8,000 years ago. When the Persians invaded India, they adopted it and developed a method for extracting cane sugar around 600 BC. Note that some historians claim that cane sugar extraction first took place in Northern India. Alexander the Great’s Indian campaign would make sugar cane known in Europe around 327 BC and the Arabs would learn about sugar cane and the process of making cane sugar when they invaded Persia around 642 AD. Around 1096, the European Crusaders would learn about Arab cane sugar and sugar cane cultivation methods. It was at this time that Europe began getting shipments of cane sugar on a regular basis.
In the 15th Century, the cultivation of sugar cane began on the Azores and Canary Islands and towards the end of that century, Christopher Columbus would take it to the New World. It would thrive throughout the West Indies, but Brazil was found to be an especially hospitable environment for its growth.
In the modern era, Brazil is the largest producer of sugar cane and of cane sugar in the world. India is the second largest.
Cane sugar flavor profile
Unrefined cane sugar is sweet with a fuller mild toffee flavor since there are still plant materials present along with its sucrose.
The refined sugar found on most grocery store shelves is usually made from sugar cane and is the most widely used form of sugar. It has been processed to remove anything that would add a flavor aside from sweetness.
Health benefits of cane sugar
Cane sugar is not known for being a healthy food; however, it does provide a few benefits. Some of its characteristics make it a very important part of your diet. Consider the fact that cane sugar is:
- A source of energy: Cane sugar’s main nutritional benefit stems from the fact that it gets converted into glucose in the blood. This is the simplest form of sugar. Glucose is absorbed by the blood to provide energy at the cellular level. This ability to provide energy is also why consuming too much sugar can cause obesity. The energy that does not get used is stored as fat.
- A source of trace minerals: Raw unprocessed sugar and all shades of brown sugar contain tiny amounts of essential minerals. While the minerals are not present in nutritionally significant quantities, they are in the sugar and will be absorbed by your body.
- A source of antioxidants: Research has shown that unprocessed cane sugar contains higher levels of antioxidants when compared to other sweeteners like refined sugar and corn syrup. Antioxidants can help to counteract free radicals that cause heart disease and other health conditions.
You can use cane sugar to provide relief from certain ailments like:
- Low blood sugar: You can use cane sugar to raise your blood sugar if it fluctuates.
- Low blood pressure: In some cases, low blood sugar can cause low blood pressure. In these cases, consuming sugar can raise blood pressure almost instantly.
Common uses of cane sugar
You can use cane sugar as an all-purpose sweetener. It will work in beverages like coffee and tea as well as in baked goods. Raw cane sugar has a pale amber color and can be used in much same way that you would use brown sugar.