Sugar Cane vs Sugar Beet
Sugar is an essential ingredient of many recipes and desserts, not to forget beverages. It is found in all kitchens and is found in the list of items purchased every month from the grocery store. Sugar is a good source of carbohydrates, and the most common ingredient, also the most dominant is sucrose. Most of the sugar in the world is obtained from sugarcane though around 30-35% of world’s sugar is obtained from sugar beet also. Not many are aware of the differences between sugarcane and sugar beet, and this article attempts to highlight these differences for the benefit of the readers.
Sugarcane is a tall grass that grows perennially mostly in warm climates in Asia though today Brazil, a Latin American country is considered to be a major producer of this commercial crop. The grass has stouts that are joined and are fibrous and very rich in sucrose. Sugarcane is used to obtain many products of which sugar is most prominent. Other products include molasses, rum, ethanol, and bagasse.
Sugar beet is a plant that contains a tuber having high percentage of sucrose. This plant is grown as a commercial in many parts of the world for production of sugar. US, EU and Russia are three of the largest producers of sugar beet. Sugar beet is grown commercially in many countries to add to the production of sugar. Sugar beet production has grown considerably in the last few decades since it has become a machine intensive crop from being a totally labor intensive crop a few decades ago. However, despite having been known to mankind since ancient times, sugar beet was earlier grown as a vegetable and also as animal fodder and its use in the production of sugar is only two centuries old.
What’s the difference between Sugarcane and Sugar Beet?
Whether one buys sugar from a local store or a hyper market like Wal-Mart, the packs do not tell whether the sugar has been obtained from sugarcane or sugar beet. This is perhaps because of the fear of a backlash from the public as sugar from sugarcane is always considered superior to sugar obtained from sugar beet. This is despite the fact that both sugarcane and sugar beet contain sucrose that is chemically identical.
The real fact is sucrose from sugarcane and sugar beet is 99.95% identical and a miniscule 0.05% difference makes all the difference in taste of the two sugars. This small difference in composition is because of difference in minerals and proteins. Sugarcane is a grass waving in air all the time, whereas sugar beet remains under the surface of the earth. This is a big difference in itself that makes contents and proteins different in the two sucrose bearing crops. However, as the two are processed differently also, many of the differences in taste can be answered on account of processing. As far as US is concerned, beet today accounts for as much as half of the total sugar production and consumption.