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What Is Raw Sugar?

What Is Raw Sugar, Anyway?

A timely sale at the supermarket recently had me forgoing granulated white sugar in favor of the caramel-colored raw kind. But it was only after I'd begun using it in everything from agrodolce sauce to cocktails that I realized I didn't truly know what turbinado sugar really is. Is it brown sugar? Or simply a less processed version of the white stuff?

A little digging revealed that the answer is, in some respects, yes to both. Raw sugar — sometimes known as turbinado or demerara sugar — is a not-so-refined version of its white counterpart.

Sugar is made from the heated juice of crushed sugarcane, which contains both sugar crystals as well as dark molasses. The two are separated in a centrifuge; what remains is granulated white sugar. To achieve brown sugar, some of the molasses is added back into the granulated white.


Unlike standard granulated white sugar, which is rid of all impurities, raw sugar maintains a certain level of molasses, which, in essence, makes it a sort-of brown sugar lite, with caramelly and coffee-like flavor qualities. But don't go too crazy with it: even though it's slightly less refined, there's no proven health benefit to eating raw sugar over its refined counterpart.

Got a burning question? Join the Burning Question group in the YumSugar Community! It's your place to post the most pressing questions about the culinary world.

Source: Flickr User Pen Waggener

Join The Conversation
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
Honestly I never used it in cooking or baking.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
Full disclosure: I've only ever tried it in coffee. I didn't like the taste or the fact that I had to use more than one packet to make it sweet.
Susannah-Chen Susannah-Chen 6 years
Onlysourcherry - why don't you like it? Is it because of the larger granule size? That's the only thing that bugs me. Purplelady20, I don't know much about diabetics and sugar, but I do know that demerara has just as many sugars as regular white cane sugar, so that's something to keep in mind.
purplelady20 purplelady20 6 years
Please reply to the post that I made about raw sugar instead of Spenda brown sugar because of being diabetic.
purplelady20 purplelady20 6 years
I am diabetic and wonder where I would be in using raw sugar to using Splenda brown sugar for sweeting things and how much do I use if using raw sugar instead.
MsMissy MsMissy 6 years
I like it for the semi-smokey caramel flavor it adds, i like that the little packets are less messy than dragging down a whole bag of brown sugar for just the pinch i need for doing something like caramelized onions.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
I don't like this stuff at all. Glad to know there are no health benefits!
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