Many recipes call for brown sugar, specifically. What do you do when you’ve used the last of your brown sugar or find that it isn’t available in your location? The easy answer is to make your own.
The truth about brown sugar
Many people are under the mistaken impression that brown sugar is sugar that hasn’t been processed as much as white, granulated sugar. That isn’t the case at all. If anything, brown sugar is more processed.
Although there is more to it, granulated sugar is made by first getting the juice out of sugarcanes or sugar beets, then boiling it and refining it. In the process, the thick sugary residue is removed. That residue is called molasses. What is left is dried and milled to produce granulated sugar. If it is milled more, it produces baker’s sugar. If it is ground, it becomes powdered sugar. This is basically how sugar is produced.
To make brown sugar, molasses is added to white sugar. Yep, you read that right; it is first removed to make table sugar, then added back to make brown sugar. Thus, it isn’t any less refined than regular sugar, and since an extra step is involved to put the molasses back into the sugar, it could be thought of as being more processed.
Making brown sugar
Knowing the above, you’ve probably figured out that in order to make brown sugar, you simply need to mix molasses with regular sugar. Molasses is sweeter than sugar, so I’ll not give an actual recipe to list amounts. However, 1/4 cup of molasses to 1 cup of sugar is a good base idea to start with. You can vary it to taste.
Making your own also means that you have total control over the consistency. You can use granulated sugar, baker’s sugar, or powdered sugar, depending on the ‘graininess’ you desire. You also have your choice of molasses you can use; light molasses, regular molasses, or blackstrap molasses.
Emergency substitute for molasses
It works the other way around, too. If a recipe calls for molasses and you don’t have any or molasses isn’t available where you are at, simply use brown sugar instead.
Incidentally, since molasses contains moisture, as the moisture evaporates, brown sugar can get hard with time, especially if exposed to the air. Don’t discard it if it does. Simply put the brown sugar in a container with a tight fitting lid, put a slice of fresh bread into the container with the brown sugar, then put the lid on tight. In a few days, the brown sugar should be soft again. The sugar robs the moisture out of the bread.
Now you know the secret. You can make your own brown sugar or substitute for molasses, as the need arises. You simply need to have one or the other; brown sugar or molasses. This might even save you money. Store-bought brown sugar often costs more than the ingredients needed to make it.
Oh, and for sugar that is less refined? That is simply “raw sugar”. Though the processing is less, it usually costs more, however.