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food & wine dictionary
Food and Wine Dictionary
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sugar snap pea
Once a luxury only the extremely affluent could afford, sugar was called "white gold" because it was so scarce andexpensive. Although Persia and ancient Arabia were cultivating sugarin the 4th century b.c., the Western World didn't know of it until the9th century when the Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula. Earlysugar wasn't the granulated, alabaster substance most of us knowtoday. Instead, it came in the form of large, solid loaves or blocksranging in color from off-white to light brown. Chunks of thisrock-hard substance had to be chiseled off and ground to a powder witha
MORTAR AND PESTLE
. Modern-day sugar is no longer scarce or expensiveand comes in myriad forms from many origins. Sugar cane and sugarbeets are the sources of most of today's sugar, also known as
(which also comesfrom maple sap
). Other common formsof sugar are
(grape or corn sugar),
(milk sugar) and
(maltsugar). The uses for sugar are countless. Besides its sweeteningvalue, sugar adds tenderness to doughs, stability to mixtures such asbeaten egg whites for
,golden-brown surfacesto baked goods and, in sufficient quantity, it contributes to thepreservation of some foods.
is highly refined cane or beet sugar. This free-flowingsweetener is the most common form both for table use and forcooking. Granulated sugar is also available in cubes or tablets ofvarious sizes, as well as a variety of textures.
, known in Britain as
, is more finely granulated. Because it dissolves almostinstantly, superfine sugar is perfect for making meringues andsweetening cold liquids. It can be substituted for regular granulatedsugar cup for cup.
is granulated sugar that has been crushed into a finepowder. To prevent clumping, a small amount (about 3 percent) of
isadded. Confectioners' sugar labeled XXXX is slightly finer than thatlabeled XXX but they can be used interchangeably and both may need tobe sifted before using. Because it dissolves so readily,confectioners' sugar is often used to make icings and candy. It's alsoused decoratively, as a fine dusting on desserts. One andthree-quarters (packed) cups confectioners' sugar equals 1 cupgranulated sugar. Confectioners' sugar is called
in Britain and
) has granules aboutfour times larger than those of regular granulated sugar. It's usedfor decorating baked goods and can be found in cake-decorating supplyshops and gourmet markets.
is an even larger formof sugar crystals.
, also used for decorating, istinted granulated sugar and can be found in several crystalsizes.
is granulated sugar that's been combinedor scented with various ingredients such as cinnamon or vanilla(
All granulated sugar can be stored indefinitelyif tightly sealed and kept in a cool, dry place.
is white sugar combined with
, which gives it a softtexture. The two most commonly marketed styles of brown sugar are
, with some manufacturersproviding variations in between. In general, the lighter the brownsugar, the more delicate the flavor. The very dark or "old-fashioned"style has a more intense molasses flavor. Brown sugar is usually soldin 1-pound boxes or plastic bags the latter help the sugarretain its moisture and keep it soft. Hardened brown sugar can beresoftened by placing it with an apple wedge in a plastic bag andsealing tightly for 1 to 2 days. A firmly packed cup of brown sugarmay be substituted for 1 cup granulated sugar. Both granulated andliquid brown sugar are also now available. Neither of these formsshould be substituted for regular brown sugar in recipes. Thoughsimilar in color, brown sugar should not be confused with
, the residue left after sugarcane has been processed toremove the molasses and refine the sugar crystals. The flavor of rawsugar is akin to that of brown sugar. In this raw state, however,sugar may contain contaminants such as molds and fibers. The so-calledraw sugar marketed in the United States has been purified, negatingmuch of what is thought to be its superior nutritive value. Twopopular types of raw sugar are the coarse-textured dry
from the Demerara area of Guyana, and the moist,fine-textured
is rawsugar that has been steam-cleaned. The coarse turbinado crystals areblond colored and have a delicate molasses flavor. Other sources ofsugar include maple sap, palm sap and sorghum. Almost 100 percent ofsugar is carbohydrate. Granulated white sugar contains about 770calories per cup, as does the same weight (which equals about 2 cups)of confectioners' sugar. A cup of brown sugar is slightly higher at820 calories. It also contains 187 milligrams of calcium, 56 ofphosphorous, 4.8 of iron, 757 of potassium and 97 of sodium, comparedto only scant traces of those nutrients found in granulated sugar.
are essentially calorie-free and are used as a sugar substitute bothcommercially and by the home cook. Sugar also comes in syrup form, themost common being
Material adapted from the
The New Food Lover's Companion
© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.
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