We think that the concepts “raw” and “unrefined” sugar are misleading, leaving the impression that we would consume an unprocessed product. Тtruth is – the production of any type of sugar from molasses to invert sugar or sugar syrup begins with the same process – refining.
The purpose of refining is to remove ingredients or impurities that affect the microbiological composition and content. The process can be done mechanically – with filters or by heating the raw material and adding some chemicals.
The factory we work with uses sugar from Cuba. It receives the sugar in large blocks and melts it for the means of production. Then the melted sugar is placed in centrifuges that separate the crystals from the molasses. Depending on the strength and duration of the spin, different qualities of sugar are obtained.
If you wonder why the whitest sugar is expensive (white < 45 IU, IU stands for International Units for sugar color), it’s because there is not much supply as it is made only in the best factories in Europe and the USA. There are a few more sugar derivatives: Super light (< 250 IU), Extra Light (< 500 IU), then there is Golden Sugar, followed by Demerara and finally Muscovado – a sugar with color molasses added to it.
All these various types of sugar are suitable for the production of different products. Take for example the dark, molasses sugars like muscovado and demerara – they are not suitable for anything else other than self-packing. You might wonder why they are “special”? Well it’s due to their high moisture content – they provide an environment for the development of unwanted microorganisms. Interesting, isn’t it? In conventional production, the use of raw sugar is not recommended because it is not safe. In organic food production, it is permissible but not recommended. Raw sugar is a sugar with low polarization (99.5 is the limit beyond which sugar is defined by customs laws as raw).
Apart from the customs standard, there is no other official regulation that defines what raw sugar is. Raw sugar contains ashes, residues, soil and that is why further processing required.
We, at harmonica, changed all our product labels as a way to start the discussion. We believe that it is important for people to understand clearly when it comes to production processes and when a concept becomes a marketing term and has no technological justification.