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Mar 2, 2008 02:30 AM

Help finding "unrefined caster sugar"?

Because Heston Blumenthal uses it, and googling it gives me sugars and brands that are only located in the UK. Does anyone know where I can get my hands on this item in the US?

I thought Sucanat would be the same thing, but it can't be. It tastes like delicious malt honey, but it really masks any flavor you're trying to add. Maybe a different brand would work? I'm using it for desserts like ice creams and cakes and such.

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  1. The US equivalent of caster sugar is superfine granulated sugar. "Unrefined' is, however, more than a bit of a misnomer in most cases of brown sugars, even the "natural" ones.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S

      Yes - true about many of the brown sugars - refined, then molasses added to them.

    2. So what's wrong with ordering it from the UK? Other than the minuscule value of the dollar against the pound.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KRS

        How about the macroscule cost of mailing anything from UK to the US? I've purchased some 'bargain' cookbooks from UK and paid more for postage than for the books!

      2. How in the world can caster sugar be unrefined?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I doubt it is. It's probably just got molasses added back in and called "unrefined".

          1. re: Karl S

            Here' Billington's description

            Their brown sugar is available in US groceries. I like their 'dark brown molasses sugar', which I treat as the granulated version of Latin American piloncillo/panela (raw sugar in brick form). They claim it is genuine brown, not molasses added white.

            I suspect this unrefined caster is a fine grain version of turbinado (e.g. sugar in the raw).

            Sam, I find it interesting that the wiki article on panela claims Columbia is it's main producer, and has the highest percapita consuption. In fact the article claims it is a major source of calories among the poorer population. That is somewhat sad, but at the same time curious, especially in light of the recent threads about HFCS.


            1. re: paulj

              Colombia is rapidly urbanizing, and were it not for the guerilla problems, would probably be farther along the way to becoming a middle-income country. Sugar is a major crop; and HFCS is not produced or used here.

        2. Couldn't you take the larger-grained sugar and whirl it around in a food processor to make it superfine? If you want the golden color/flavor, start with a natural demara sugar and put it in the food processor.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nofunlatte

            If you examine various types and grades of sugar under a microscope, they will all have different sizes and types of crystals. The quality varies as well and poor quality sugar will have irregular crystals from poor processing methods that can affect baking. Poor quality controls will also lead to variations in the amount of molasses remaining in sugars from batch to batch leading to inconsistency in cooking uses.
            Breaking down crystals in a food processor simply creates irregular crystals mixed with sugar dust. The sugar will react differently in baking than regularly shaped crystals.

          2. I was just on Ebay and they have it there for $5.19. It is listed as "India Tree Caster Sugar"

            3 Replies
            1. re: swf36d

              I think I may have that - is it brown? I'm still not convinced though that it is actually "unrefined".

              1. re: MMRuth

                Refining is a relative term. In the crudest form, cane juice is boiled down, and poured into molds, producing dark brown blocks. Lower temperature vacuum evaporation, and multiple stages of centrifuge separation produces tan to blond crystals. Getting the white sugar that we are used to requires some form of bleaching.

                While it is easy to get moist brown sugar by adding molasses to white sugar, I'm not sure it possible to get free flowing crystals this way. To get those, they'd have to make a white sugar solution, spike that with molasses, and recrystallize it. Why do that when you can just sell the un-bleached product.


                1. re: paulj

                  You're right about "refined" being a relative term - make that very relative. The only dependable sugar is refined sugar which is pure sucrose. Less than that, there's no way of knowing how much molasses is in it.
                  Even with refined sugar, the crystal size and consistency is variable, and there are different types of refined sugar of which caster sugar is only one.
                  That being said, caster sugar has much smaller, finer crystals than the standard Domino's that we use in the US. I'm not sure how those small crystals could bear the weight and bulk of retained molasses.
                  Would it still have the traditional advantages of caster sugar? It certainly would have a stronger flavor and might behave very differently in baking.