I’ve tried all the natural sugar replacements and decided that sometimes I just need the real thing. So I learned how to make sugar at home. It’s simple!
When I started researching vegan sugar, I found a lot of information. Some of the information on how to make your own sugar really intrigued me. I really dislike artificial sweeteners, and the natural ones, like stevia and monk fruit, don’t have the volume to use in baking products. My cookies and cakes tasted fine, but the texture was off. So I went back to my research and decided that making sugar is actually easy and would be the way to go.
Best Source for Making Sugar
When most people think about making sugar, the first thing that comes to mind is maple syrup. While this will work, remember that maple sap contains only 2-3% sucrose. You need about 40 gallons of sap just to make the syrup, and then you need to cook the moisture out of it. It’s a lot of work and time for the little bit of sugar that you would get out of it.
I set out to find something with higher sucrose content. Sugar beets have some of the highest sugar content of any of the fruits and vegetables, up to 8% by volume. Some of the others you can try are sweet potatoes, peas, and corn. If you decide to grow your own, this company has the most heirloom and non-GMO seeds available. You can also find the on such sites as Amazon. Sugar beets, also called Mangels, are typically grown for livestock feed and sugar refining. They are usually gray in color and can get quite large, often over 40 pounds! If you do grow your own, you’ll need plenty of room. The tops can be fed to livestock. My chickens love them! You can use the regular beets that you normally eat, but the sugar content won’t be quite as high.
Preparing your Beets
Once you dig your sugar beets or get them from a local farmer, you’ll need to scrub them. Beets grow around things like rocks, so there may be folds that dirt can hide in. After they are clean, chop them into small pieces. The smaller they are, the faster they will cook.
You can also shred them with a food processor. I don’t peel my beets when I make sugar as the skins have good nutrients in them too. When your beets are cut up, you can move to the cooking stage.
How to Make Sugar
Here’s the recipe, such as it is:
- large stockpot
- cut up or shredded beets
- Place your beets in the pan. I have a large stainless steel stockpot that I use. Cover the beets with water and set it to simmer.
- Cook as long as it takes to make the beets very tender, even mushy. It takes quite a while to cook these down. When the beets are done, set them to cool.
- After the beets are cool, drain the liquid. (I water my plants with the water.)
- Next, the beets go into a food mill or chinois. It helps to have them as mushy as you can to make this process easier. Get as much of the pulp extracted as you can along with whatever liquid comes out. Save the pulp and liquid, and send the rest to the chickens.
- Process liquid and pulp through a cheesecloth bag. Squeeze the cheesecloth bag to get all the juice out, but be careful not to get any pulp. You want just the juice, this his how to make sugar!
- Next, place the liquid in a saucepan. Set to simmer and keep an eye on it and be sure not to boil. It may take a few hours but soon you’ll find it getting syrupy.
- Start watching for crystals forming on the sides and top of the syrup. Take a bit of the syrup out with a spoon and spread it on some parchment paper. it should cool quickly and become hard and crystallized. When it gets to this point, pour the entire batch onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Allow it to cool then break into pieces and grate with a kitchen grater. Store in an airtight container.
Flavor Your Sugar
If you’re looking for some variation or have a specific flavor in mind, you can incorporate this into the mix. What I do is add the flavoring agent into the liquid after the pulp has been strained. Vanilla beans are a favorite, as well as citrus extracts. I use a few drops of lemon extract in my sugar to use in iced tea. A few drops of bourbon make for a rich, smoky taste and pairs well in mixed drinks like mint juleps. How about some peppermint? Add a bit of this to your hot chocolate for a wintertime treat. The possibilities are endless!
Another way to make flavored sugar is to add the fruit to the pot you are simmering the beets in. Lemon peels work great here. I also like a good tart apple added to my sugar. This can be used in apple pie or oatmeal. Pumpkin, also higher in sugar, makes an interesting flavor for fall. I add mine to my coffee! Again, use your imagination!
Now you know how to make sugar! Why not try some today?