Apparently I’m kind of obsessed with sugar, which is odd since I’m not a real sweets fan. I looked over past blogs to see if I’d given this information before and I haven’t, so I think you’ll appreciate all of the names on labels that really mean sugar. Here’s why it’s important: SUGAR IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE. Just like a narcotic. It affects dopamine receptors and causes the brain to behave as if it’s reacting to a narcotic pleasure loop. And sadly, almost anything “white” has hidden sugar in it. Here are most of the names you will find on the back (or FRONT!) of a food label that mean SUGAR:
*High-fructose corn syrup(we all knew that didn't we?)*Xylitol
*Evaporated Cane Juice
What a plant. This stuff is kind of like hemp in its varied uses and value. Look it up! I will only concentrate on Sorghum SYRUP which comes from a native African grass. Mostly made in the southeast and gulf states, every small batch and brand is different – owing probably to the soil and climate where the grass is grown.
Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves sorghum for its earthy, malty and molasses like flavors and odors – it contributes depth to recipes and creates that “what IS that flavor” question on the tip of your palate! It is a (no longer) secret ingredient in Lula’s Kentucky Black Bourbon Sauce and is key in our popular Sorghum, Cider and Sassafras Vinaigrette, gracing our Heirloom Beet Salad pictured above.
You don’t hear much about Golden Syrup outside of Great Britain, and even there you’ll almost exclusively find the brand Lyle’s, but it is well loved across the pond. It’s about 25% sweeter than sugar and is made from cane. It has a butterscotch and toffee flavor. the Brits like to use it in the flapjack, which is a bar cookie, not a pancake. It IS great poured over pancakes however!! It is also called “treacle“. Ever heard of the movie “Brimstone and Treacle”? If you’re a Sting fan you might want to check it out!
Nothing more than simmered down pure cane juice, the inhabitants of Louisiana LOVE Cane Syrup as it’s the easiest liquid sugar for them to get – about half of the sugar cane in the US is grown in Louisiana. Cane Syrup has a burnt caramel flavor, sometimes described as boozy. Louisianans use it over sausage, biscuits, and in cakes like fruit and spice. You should too!
Agave Nectar is all the rage amongst naturalists these days…it comes from the Blue Agave succulent that grows mostly in Mexico, which also gives us tequila. It can be used in baking and some folks prefer it – as it has a relatively neutral taste. As with all liquid sugars in recipes, you want to reduce the other liquid in the recipe by one quarter.
DANGER WILL ROBINSON! “Pancake Syrup” is not Maple Syrup. Pancake syrup is most likely the dark corn syrup we talked about last week. If you want your pancakes to taste amazing stay away from “Pancake Syrup” and stick to real, expensive, Maple Syrup. The good news: you don’t have to turn your pancakes into “pancake-maple soup” to enjoy the unctuous benefits of Maple Syrup. A light drizzle will sweeten and enhance your pancake batter delightfully. So you’re spending the same amount of money anyway. Here’s why:
Maple syrup is no more than the sap of the maple tree siphoned off, then boiled down from 40 gallons of sap to ONE gallon of syrup. During this process the sap caramelizes, giving maple syrup its lovely golden to amber color.
This is how maple syrup is graded – by its color – denoting the amount of caramelization. Grade A comes in Dark Amber or Light Amber, and Grade B is the strongest and darkest, which Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering likes to use for cooking. We are also not opposed to using maple syrup in cocktails – ask for one to be made at your next cocktail party! Lula is religious about finding all ingredients that work well with whiskies. Also, for your next Brunchbe SURE to ask for Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s Homemade Maple-Vanilla Yogurt.
Yuck.Well, maybe not so much…in that corn syrup will not crystallize.If you read my article “The Transparency of Pecan Pie” you’ll get even deeper into this subject.Did you know that corn syrup – a highly refined product from corn starch – is only 65% as sweet as white sugar?But it doesn’t turn frostings and pies and candies grainy so it’s a decent ingredient for this sort of stuff.The only difference between light corn syrup and dark corn syrup is caramel coloring.Can you tell I’m a fan?
Now we begin our foray into the liquid sugar realm, starting with honey. EVERYONE knows about honey – and I will refrain from diverging onto the windy path of ecology and how the bees, by producing honey from whatever region in whatever flavor, help feed the world by their pollination. I’ll just say this one thing PROTECT THE BEES PLEEEESE!!!
Honey is the worlds oldest known sweetener, and its flavor varies all over the world depending upon what nectar the bees have been feeding on, including something as weird as the flowering buckwheat plant. Lavender honey is one of my favorites, but then again all things lavender please me greatly! Have you ever had eucalyptus honey?!? Respond to this blog and let me know the most unusual honey you’ve ever had – I’m curious!! You can liquefy crystallized honey by microwaving it in 10 second increments until it liquefies (if you can get it out of the jar to begin with!).
A light brown, partially refined raw sugar, Demerara originally was called so because it actually came from Demerara – once a colony that has now become the country of Guyana.The sugar has large crystals and is somewhat brown in color, but there are no additives.It is crunchy with a warm caramel flavor. It is an excellent topping for baked goods – it won’t break down and melt during the baking process.
Demerara has become so popular that it is now produced in many other countries, and is generically referred to as “turbinado” which is more of a descriptor of the PROCESS, rather than a type of sugar.The terms are pretty much interchangeable.Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses demerara A LOT in many applications…because it’s DEEEELICIOUS!
Confectioner’s Sugar, also called 10-X, is nothing more than granulated white sugar that has been finely ground to 10 times smaller than its original crystal size, and then cornstarch is added to prevent clumping. This sugar is prized for its “dissolvability” and is used in candy and icing applications. Lula’s for Lunch…and More!Catering makes a FABulous Citrus White Chocolate Ganache using 10-X – enjoy this pic of our 7-Spice Cake with the ganache drizzled all over it.
Did you know you can make your own confectioner’s sugar? Simply put one cup of granulated sugar in a blender (NO…not a food processor – it doesn’t work!!) with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch added, and blend away for exactly 3 minutes. Poof! You’ve magically whipped up your own 10-X!! Give yourself a smooch.
In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!