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Jan 31, 2007 08:22 AM

C&H organic cane sugar

As organic sugar goes this is relatively affordable in 10-pound bags at Costco.

It has a light beige color like Mexican granulated sugar, which makes me slightly worried that it might not behave exactly like regular cane sugar. Has anyone baked anything fussy with it, or torched it for a brulee?

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  1. Good question, RL.
    The organic sugars that I have seen in stores in the US, including the one sold by Domino, are from South America and the Caribbean. I think I have seen some from Hawaii. It is common in much of Latin America for the sugar to be pale beige rather than pure white. Perhaps the Costco organic is imported. There is no reason why organic sugar could not be white as the final refining step is done with activated carbon which should be OK. It may be a marketing thing. There is such an aversion in many corners to refined white sugar that people might be unwilling to accept an organic white sugar as "good." Brown is better to many people.

    When we lived in Ecuador, I had to adjust most of my recipes to accomodate the difference in the sugar there. It had a higher moisture content and the flavor was just enough more "robust" that it changed the taste of fussier things. I kept some US sugar on hand for that and for anything that had to be completely dry. I think that would apply to your brulée. I'm more of a flan girl myself. No last minute finishing and the sugar wasn't as critical.

    1. We always use Trader Joe's organic cane sugar. It's been great in things such as chocolate chip cookes. We don't do fancy baking, though, so I can't help you there.

      1. I only use only pure cane sugars (C&H pure cane, Sugar in the Raw, etc.). The tiny amount of residual molasses won't affect anything. Just use it as you would white sugar and I don't think you will have any problems. I've used it in peanut britte, caramel, fudge, cake mixes, brownies, ice creams and anything else you could imagine without a problem. I've even taken a mortar and pestal to it to create superfine sugar. I think whitening sugar is just an unecesssary processing step. Ironically due to limited availability organic and most raw sugars are usually more expensive.

        The disadvantages are that some white cakes and vanilla ice cream might have a greyish hue to them. I also find it doesn't dissolve as well in cold liquids.

        Vegans use it to replace white sugar because the carbon used from refining white sugar is supposed to come from animal products or so I've been told.

        Brown sugar on the other hand will affect your baking and cooking because the molasses added will add too much moisture but the tiny amount in raw sugar will just add a bit of flavor.

        1. I think cheapertrick is right that it's unlikely that Costco's sugar will affect most of the things you use it in. The only possibilities would be very delicate candies, cookies or pastries like divinity, tuilles or madelines where you don't want the flavor or color intruding.

          As I think more about the problems I had adjusting to using tan colored sugar in Latin America, it may have had more to do with the crystal size than the amount of residual molasses or moisture for most baked goods. As cheapertrick points out, it dissolves differently. It didn't cream with shortenings the same way either. I suppose it's like using larger crystal salt like Kosher vs table salt in baking. The larger crystals don't disperse evenly and there's not enough liquid for them to dissolve.

          I'm going to be very interested to hear your results using the new product. Costco's things are usually reliable. I'm hoping it's good stuff.

          6 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            So far, except for the color, it seems identical to regular C&H white.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              It's really hard to tell the crystal size by feel or the naked eye. But if it is the same as the regular C&H white, you should be home free except for really rare cases. How often do we do prissy stuff these days where we have to have absolute pure white?
              I'd try it in a recipe that you know really well. That you could do in your sleep. Maybe one where you cream it in butter. See if it dissolves properly.
              Then as you asked originally, torch it for a brulée.
              (I think I just gave to permission to eat a lot of sweets on our behalf as an experiment, huh?)

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Torch some on aluminum foil. I know brown doesn't work easily and I had problems with domino years ago.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  The color does make a difference if you're dissolving it in a liquid, where it will give the liquid a distinct brown hue (my simple syrup looks more like light maple syrup). It's a cosmetic issue, but one you need to be aware of if, for example, you don't want your lemonade to look muddy.

                  1. re: billjriv

                    Sucanat is a registered trademark of Ragus Holdings, so Costco wouldn't be able to market it without that trademark designation.
                    This sounds more refined than Sucanat, but still not white as cheapertrick discusses above.

                2. So like sugar in the raw?Nice avatar by the way.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: billjriv

                    "Sugar in the Raw" is another copyrighted brand name.
                    The term "raw sugar" covers a lot of territory. From crystals that form from evaporated cane juice (products like Sucanat - some pure enough for human consumption, some you wouldn't feed to an animal) through various stages of processing (which I guess you could call refinement or purifying) all the way to that final white stuff. And even the white refined stuff is in different forms. Molasses is added back into white refined sugar to make brown sugar just to make things more complicated.
                    Confusing, isn't it?

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Raw cane sugar looks like a piece of bamboo.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I was referring to the "raw sugar" cane products that posters have been discussing as consumable food products. Sugar cane is a grass like bamboo and has a similar growth pattern.
                        My father was born on a sugar plantation in Louisiana. My family has been in the growing and milling side since the late 1700s. None of my immediate family is currently actively involved.
                        What they used at home was "raw sugar" which they got in barrels from the mill before it was sent off for refining into white sugar. That was from the end of the milling process however and was clean. Sugar at earlier stages of milling has a lot of impurities and isn't something you'd necessarily want to eat.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Is that kind of "raw" sugar similar to Mexican piloncillo?

                          The products commercially sold as "raw sugar" these days seem to be mostly evaporated cane juice--instead of raising the temperature until the juice boils at 1 atmosphere, they lower the air pressure until it boils at room temperature.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Is piloncillo sold in blocks or chunks? Mexicans use different words for things than others in Latin America. In the Andes, there is a rough sugar called panela or chancaca, sold in blocks, used mostly by the poor. My kids bought it as a treat for the horses but the stable hands cautioned them not to eat it as it was pretty dirty. They probably did anyway but never got sick.
                            Panela is the result of a more primative method of sugar cane processing without sophisticated equipment. Without accurate controls, vacuums and centrifuges, it's hard to produce high quality.

                            The first pressing of cane juice is muddy and has to be filtered and cleaned in some way before it can be processed for use in any way. The products referred to as "raw sugar" in postings on CH run the gamut from evaporated cane juice (like Sucanat, a trademarked product of an American company, or perhaps similar products that might not have adequate quality control) through all of the stages of milling before the sugar is sent to be finally stripped of color and the last vestiges of molasses. Sugar in the Raw is another registered trademark for a product from Maui that is similar to what is called demerara sugar. Costco's sugar sounds like the end product of a highly sophisticated mill.
                            All mills are different, varying in their degrees of sophistication from very primitive to highly sophisticated and clean. Louisiana State University has a Department of Sugar Science with students and scientists from sugar-producing countries from around world developing new technologies in production. It's not a simple process and the terminology isn't either.
                            You have to know what you're buying and get it from a trusted source. The raw agricultural product is dirty and some degree of refining is required.

                            The sugar that Daddy's family used was granular, much like what I've bought in supermarkets in Latin America. Probably more coarse, more molasses flavor than what you've found at Costco.
                            That's not what the end product of the mill is like today as sugar technology has advanced enormously. My grandfather wouldn't recognize the old sugar mill now with all the computer controls.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                That must be a traditional shape for a mold for the soft sugar in Mexico. The canela in the Andes was in small rectangular bricks. Chunks were broken off to be mixed with liquid or fat in food preparation.
                                Piloncillo looks very similar in texture to canela.