Updated: Jul 18, 2019
One of our favorite food #ingredients in the world is #Sugar! We often associate it with sweets but you should not be surprised when it makes a guest appearance in your favorite savor or salty foods and #condiments too!
This ingredient has many forms and is pretty versatile hence you will find it across a wide range for food and beverages; expected or unexpected.
The media and many online platforms have embellished #Sugar with some unpleasant labels associated with unhealthy eating habits. However, as you already know moderation of how much you consume is key in maintaining a healthy and positive relationship with #Sugar. Well, it would be a bit difficult to maintain a great track record of #moderation when your savory and salty foods may also have #Sugar in them!
Well, not all #Sugar is created equal and in most cases the #Sugar does play a critical role where in the technical world of product development it is a #functional #ingredient. It has significant purpose in how your food is made besides simply enhancing your #culinary experience!
Sugar at your Service!
Let's talk look at some common functions of #Sugar in food manufacturing, it really does a lot in the food industry. How #Sugar is used in food manufacturing or further processed for use is based on its physical and chemical properties:
Taste- you can easily guessed this one! Sugar makes a great versatile #sweetener. Temperature and granulation size are critical in managing how quickly any form of sugar or sweetener dissolves in beverage formulas. Sugar can also help create culinary balance in your food; for instance if your recipe is acidic, bitter or sour you can add some sugar to make it more palatable.
Flavoring- the presence of sugar can enhance the perception of certain flavors in foods.
Color- that golden born color you get when baking with wheat flour happens when sugar reacts with a protein (amino acid) found in flour called #lysine, this results in heat activated #browning called #Maillard reaction on the surface of your baked good. Another process of sugar browning is referred to as #caramelization where the presence of protein is not needed, sugar itself can brown and even burn in the presence of heat.
Texture Modifier & Bulking- Sugar is great for creating a crunchy or crispy mouth feel for low moisture recipes like ginger snaps, sugar cookies or graham crackers for instance. In the presence of gelatin or pectin and water sugar is able to form a jam/jelly like texture. In high moisture baked products sugar can enhance the #gelatinization of scratch in flour based dough/batter allowing formation of air bubbles that add volume to your cake for instance. It can also prevent over-development of #gluten (a major protein in wheat flour) resulting in a more tender texture for baked goods. Sugars can reduce the freezing point of water, this principle is used in ice-cream manufacturing and can also increase the boiling point of water which is critical in confectionery industry
Fermentation substrate- in the presence of yeast, this is common with bread making and fermented alcoholic beverages.
Humectant- Sugar has the ability to bind water (hygroscopic). In high moisture foods sugar in form of #InvertSugar for the most part is able to help your recipe retain or hold on to more moisture and give you a chewy texture.
Preservative- Sugar being hygroscopic can bind enough water to leave very little loose moisture if any in the food it is added to, with that said there will no be much left for microbes to grow an spoil the food (due to high osmotic pressure). High sugar content can retard or prevent microbial growth relative to ratio with moisture and also the water activity of the food you are preserving.