The Importance of Sugar
Sugar ’s Amazing Function in our Food Supply:
For most of us, sugar and foods sweetened with sugar conjure up life’s happiest moments—birthday parties and special holidays.
But pleasure is only part of the story. Fruits get their natural sweetness from sucrose and other sugars. Vegetables, such as carrots, taste best when their sugar content is at its highest.
Sugar provides a balanced sweet taste that other sweeteners attempt to imitate.
Sugar is not hidden in food. In fact, sugar has always provided many necessary functional properties in cooking and baking.
How Many Of These Facts About Sugar Do You Already Know?
• Absorbs water and inhibits flour gluten development providing proper texture in baked goods (a little sugar results in a dense texture like a roll; a lot of sugar results in a fluffy texture like a cake)
• Helps prevent spoilage of fruit jellies and preserves by stealing the water from bacterial cells, killing them and preventing spoilage
• Is hygroscopic and absorbs water from the atmosphere keeping baked goods moist and fresh
• Balances sour, bitter and spicy components in foods like spaghetti and barbeque sauce
• Provides nourishment for yeast to help bread rise
• Helps baked foods brown (called the Maillard Reaction), which is why the crust of bread and rolls turn brown
• Adds flavor and balances acidic elements in rubs, brines, dressings and cures
• Strengthens fiber and cell texture in fruits and vegetables during cooking
• Incorporates air into shortening during creaming
• Acts as a whipping aid to stabilize egg foams
• Enhances smoothness, flavor and mouth feel in dairy products
(Source: How Well Do You Know Sugar, from The Sugar Association)