Does Turbinado Sugar Have a Place in Your Kitchen?

Turbinado sugar goes by many names in the baking community. In the United Kingdom, it is called demerara sugar and in other parts of the world it is simply known as natural brown sugar or raw sugar. If you’re looking for something a little different to sweeten your baked goods or if your family is looking for a way to enjoy sweetened foods with the least amount of machine processing, then turbinado sugar may just have a place in your kitchen!

What is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado has a similar resemblance to what we would call typical brown sugar, only there are a few differences that make turbinado appear to be a close cousin in the brown sugar family. Where brown sugar has a rich, sandy brown color, turbinado appears as more of a softer, creamier shade of brown and has a translucence to it that casts an even lighter color to the eye. The color isn’t the only thing that sets this type of sugar apart from other sweeteners. Because it is mostly in a raw form, turbinado comes in a much larger and more solid texture compared to the superfine grain of common brown sugar. Turbinado almost has a crystalline quality to it that looks heavier and a bit rougher than any other sugar. Again, the differences do not stop there! In addition to having a different color and texture to brown guar, turbinado sugar also has a different weight and smoothness because it has much more moisture than granulated white sugar. This is because it is harvested from the sugar cane earlier on and isn’t processes as stringently as white sugar. This allows turbinado to retain a sizable amount of moisture which is essentially molasses from the sugar cane.

You might be wondering what the difference is between brown and turbinado sugars on a processing level. What we know as brown sugar isn’t actually brown by nature. In fact, it’s about 95 percent typical, everyday white cane sugar. The way that it acquires the brown color is through the addition of sugar cane molasses, in which it is allowed to soak. So in reality, brown sugar is mostly white sugar with a bit of molasses added for color and a dark, spicy flavor. Turbinado, on the other hand, is naturally high in molasses content and is never processed in a way that would strip the molasses from the sugar crystals. In essence, turbinado is one of the purest forms of sugar because it goes through very little processing in the sense of removing and adding nutrients.

Is it Healthier for Me?

 One thing that you might have heard is that turbinado, or demerara sugar, is healthier than white cane sugar. The truth is that turbinado, brown, and white cane are all sugars, and therefore they will take a toll on the body if used in excess regardless of how processed or unprocessed they are. The idea behind turbinado sweetener being a healthy alternative to regular table sugar is the fact that because it goes through little mechanical processing, it is allowed to remain moist with the sugar cane molasses which does contain quite a bit of minerals such a calcium, potassium, and magnesium, to name a few. By choosing turbinado over regular sugar, you enable your body to absorb a bit of healthy and useable minerals that otherwise you would not receive from the sugar. All this really means is that if you are going to eat sugar, you might as well be able to reap a bit of positive influence on your body. There isn’t enough minerals in the sugar to actually counter the bad effects of sugar (such as calories), but many people feel that it is better to consume a type of sugar that has some health benefits to offer the body.

While turbinado as a sweetener is not necessarily healthy, it does have the added benefit of mineral content as well as being less processed than white granulated sugar.

Buying Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado is available from many everyday grocery markets, but if you have trouble locating it in your usual shopping center then you might try searching your local health food store. If they don’t carry it then there is a good chance that they would know where to direct you or they may even be willing to special order some for you. Failing that, you might try searching online for turbinado, as many online retail stores offer a large variety of specialty and hard-to-find sugars. As turbinado is much more common than some other types of sugar, such as muscovado, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a fair price and a variety of package sizes.

Storage Suggestions

The way that you store turbinado sugar will have a large effect on how well it works during the cooking process, mainly because it can dry out very easily. The more contact that turbinado has with air, the more moisture it will lose, and therefore it will become very solid—just like brown sugar has a tendency to do. Keep this type of sugar stored at room temperature in an air-tight container or, at the very least, in a zip-top plastic bag.