sweeteners Feed

In studying sugar and sugarcane (go here for the project index) we need to study the sugar beet; sugarcane's competitor. Here we'll look at the sugar beet's early history. Sugar beets were not economically important as a source of sucrose until the mid-1800s. In 1774 a German scientist discovered the sugar from beets was the same as from cane. Napoleon, due to the economic and real war with England, bet big on sugar beets. In 1811 he supported vast increase in sugar beet production. Within 2 years they built 334 factories and produced 35,000 tons of sugar. To process sugar... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In studying sugarcane and sugar, we've looked at its biology, origins, spread to the West, association with forced labor, how it was processed in the olden days, and how the English developed a taste for it. (Go here for the project index.) Now we'll look at sugar in America. Again I have used these resources for my facts and understanding of history, as I'm certainly no expert and I welcome your comments. Jamestown, Virginia was founded in 1607. Sugarcane was brought there by 1619, but the colonists couldn't make it grow. As it was a new country, the United States... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In studying sugarcane and sugar, we've looked at its biology, origins, spread to the West, its previous association with forced labor, and how it was processed in the olden days. (Go here for the project index.) Now we'll look at how people in England developed a taste for sugar. Much of this information comes from the book Sweetness and Power (resources list here) by Sidney Mintz. Naturally the British taste for sugar not only drove the taste of the citizens of its colonies for sugar, but also determined how its sugar-growing colonies were used. In 1000 AD, few Europeans knew... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In studying sugarcane and sugar, we've looked at its biology, origins, spread to the West, and its previous nefarious association with forced labor. (Go here for the project index.) In today's post we'll look at how sugarcane was processed in the olden days to make cyrstallized sugar. Most of this information comes from the sources cited here. Sugarcane is first harvested. This was (and still is in many parts of the world) done by hand. First the cane fields are burned to remove excess vegetation and to kill off things like rodents and snakes, then it is cut. I believe... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

Boy is this ever a topic I'd rather avoid! However there is no denying the historic link between sugarcane production. We were tracing the spread of sugarcane and the sugar industry from the Old World to the new. But slave labor used to harvest and process sugarcane began long before sugarcane was brought to the Caribbean. Before sugarcane made its way to the Atlantic islands off the coast of Spain and Portugal, slave labor was used in Crete, Cyprus, and Morocco. Warfare and plague had diminished the local labor force so slaves were 'needed' to harvest it. Slavery and sugar... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

When we last left off looking at sugarcane's spread from India/Indonesia to the rest of the world, the sugar industry had shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic islands of Spain and Portugal, including Madeira and the Canary islands. During this time, the powers in Europe were developing a taste for sugar. Sugar was only known in Europe after the 8th century. This is about the time that references to growing cane in the Mediterranean appear. Molasses reached England by late 1200s, coming from Sicily. King Henry III (in the 13th century) ordered three pounds of sugar “if so much... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In the last post we looked at what sugarcane is. Now we'll see where it came from and how it traveled around the world. Sugarcane is a tall grass native to the region of the India and Southeast Asia. It was first domesticated in New Guinea, perhaps independently in Indonesia. In 325 BC Alexander the Great’s general Nearchus said, “A reed in India brings forth honey without the help of bees, from which an intoxicating drink is made though the plant bears no fruit.” Around the same time, sugar was referred to as khanda, from which we probably derive the... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

In the Sugar Spirit project, we're going to look at sugar's history and production, but first we should establish what sugar and sugarcane are. Sugar and Sucrose When we talk about sugar, we mean table sugar, or sucrose. To chemists, sugar refers to a class of 'edible crystalline carbohydrates' that also includes fructose and lactose. But most of us aren't chemists so we won't use the word 'sucrose' so much as just 'sugar.' Except for now: Sucrose occurs in all green plants. It is a plant food manufactured photosynthetically from carbon dioxide and water. For table sugar, the plants harvested... Read more →

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.