Brown sugar is a natural sweetener that can improve the flavor of a wide range of foods. Brown sugar is made from the juice of sugar beet or sugar cane plants, just like any other natural sugar. Brown sugar is made by combining white sugar and molasses, which gives it a unique flavor and nutritional profile. Brown sugar can be refined or unrefined, but most brown sugar sold in grocery stores is refined. Turbinado sugar, muscovado sugar, and free-flowing brown sugar are some of the other (less common) brown sugar varieties.
Brown sugar has a low nutrient content, and it’s high in calories and carbohydrates, which your body can use for energy. Brown sugar contains no significant micronutrients when consumed in typical amounts. On the other hand, sugar may provide some minerals in larger quantities. Calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, and potassium are all present in small amounts in a one-cup serving.
Brown Sugar Nutrition Facts
What is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is made up of crystalline sucrose mixed with a small amount of molasses, which gives it its distinctive color and flavor. The Caribbean, Brazil, Australia, Europe, South Africa, and parts of the United States are among the world’s major sugar-producing regions. Brown sugar is widely used in baked goods because it adds a dark sweetness, and it’s also used in sweet sauces and glazes for savory dishes in the kitchen.
The amount of molasses added to the white sugar determines what type of brown sugar is produced:
- Light Brown Sugar: This is the most common type used for baking. Recipes that call for brown sugar without specifying either light or dark generally require light brown sugar. Light brown sugar contains approximately 3.5 percent molasses by weight.
- Dark Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar is approximately 6.5 percent molasses by weight and is used when an extra rich flavor or color is desired.
- Liquid Brown Sugar: Domino Sugar, a predominant sugar manufacturer in the United States, is used to produce a liquid brown sugar product. Although the product is no longer available, many older recipes still include this ingredient. To make a substitute for liquid brown sugar at home, combine one part water with three parts light brown sugar. The mixture may need to be heated slightly for the sugar to dissolve fully.
What are the Health Benefits of Brown Sugar?
Here are the health benefits of brown sugar:
- Brown sugar contains fewer calories and carbs than refined, white sugar. Hence, switching to brown sugar and limiting your sugar intake could prevent obesity.
- The potassium present in molasses acts as electrolytes that play a vital role in easing cramping, especially in the uterine muscles during the menstrual cycle.
- Since brown sugar is composed of simple carbohydrates, the body can easily break it down into glucose – the preferred source of energy for the brain. As such, it offers an instant energy boost.
- Brown sugar is a humectant, and thus, it is an excellent ingredient in face packs for dry skin. Its coarse, granular structure also makes it a brilliant exfoliant that scrubs away the outermost layer of dead skin.
- It contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
- It possesses a deep, caramelized flavor, making it a perfect sweetener in baked goods.
Potential Adverse Effects
When looking at the nutrition facts for brown sugar, it’s clear that the vitamins and minerals are the thin lines that separate it from white sugar. Furthermore, the addition of molasses – a component that is only marginally present in brown sugar – provides these vitamins and minerals. Dark brown sugar is thus technically healthier than light brown sugar. In essence, pale brown sugar is identical to white sugar. As a result, brown sugar has the same disadvantages as too much-refined sugar. You could have dental issues, be diabetic, lose skin elasticity, etc. Finally, moderation is key to reaping the full benefits of brown sugar nutrition facts.
How to Store?
According to the USDA, brown sugar never spoils, but it is best used within two years of opening the package. If properly stored in the pantry, the package can last for 18 to 24 months. 10 Brown sugar is best consumed within six months of purchase and opening, according to sugar manufacturers.
On the other hand, brown sugar can be difficult to store properly. Because most types of brown sugar are sticky, they clump together and become extremely hard when exposed to air. Some sugar manufacturers recommend keeping it in a cool, moist environment in a rustproof container with a tight-fitting lid or a re-sealable, moisture-proof plastic bag.
Brown sugar should not be kept in the refrigerator. However, freezing it is recommended if you don’t plan to use brown sugar right away. Make sure the sugar is frozen in an airtight bag. Thaw brown sugar and separate clumps with a fork when ready to use. If the sugar has formed ice crystals, stir it as it thaws to prevent moisture pockets from affecting the sugar.
How to Prepare?
If your brown sugar has hardened, soften it before using it in recipes. Softening the sugar allows the moisture to return, making it easier to measure and use. Brown sugar can be softened in three different ways.
- Quick microwave method: Place the hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with damp paper towels. Then cover the entire bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for up to two minutes. Remove from the microwave and mash the sugar with a fork to separate the clumps. Once the sugar cools, it will become hard again, so only microwave the amount you plan to use.
- Quick oven method: Place sugar in a heat-proof dish and put it in an oven preheated to 250 degrees. Watch the sugar carefully and pull it out when it becomes soft. It may take several minutes, depending on the amount. This is the fastest method, but you only want to soften as much as you will use immediately. Once the sugar cools, it will become hard again.
- Slow softening method: If you need to soften brown sugar that you might not use right away, this is preferred. It takes more time, but the sugar will stay soft after cooling.
Begin by placing the sugar in a tightly- sealed container. Then add a source of moisture. Some cooks use a piece of plastic wrap covered with damp paper towels. But you can also use a slice of bread or several marshmallows. Seal the container for two days. When you re-open the sugar, mash it with a fork to separate the clumps. The sugar should remain soft as long as it stays in a tightly sealed container.
Once brown sugar is soft, you can cook with it just like you cook and bake with other types of sugar. If you have a baking recipe for refined white sugar, you can use brown sugar instead. But because brown sugar is naturally softer and moister, the baked goods may also be moister.
Brown Sugar Substitute
In many recipes, white or raw sugar can be substituted for brown sugar. The sweetness will be retained with white sugar, but the extra flavor will be lost, and the color will be lighter. To compensate for the moisture loss, you may need to increase the liquid in the recipe slightly.
Brown sugar can be made at home by combining one tablespoon molasses with 1 cup granulated white sugar. Stir the sugar and molasses together until they have a uniform color and texture. This substitution will keep the recipe’s flavor, moisture, and color.
Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
- A blend of natural stevia sweetener and brown sugar that contains 75% fewer calories per serving than full-calorie brown sugar
- The bag contains 2 1/2 cups of Truvia Brown Sugar Blend that sweetens like 5 cups of full-calorie brown sugar
- 1/2 cup provides the same sweetness as 1 cup of brown sugar
- Gluten-free and kosher
- Bakes and browns like brown sugar
Brown sugar is used in many recipes, but it’s most commonly found in sweets like cakes, cookies, muffins, and bars. Brown sugar frostings and sweet dessert sauces also contain it. The caramel flavor is commonly used in sauces and glazes for savory dishes such as beans, meats, and vegetables. Brown sugar contains carbohydrates, which provide calories. A 100-gram serving contains 380 calories. It contains no fat, cholesterol, or sodium. The protein content is 1 gram per 100 gram serving.
Brown sugar contains no fiber or starch. Brown sugar is available at any supermarket and other stores with a basic baking section and online. It’s usually packaged in 2-pound plastic bags for a few dollars in the baking aisle alongside other sugars.
Dark brown sugar is more expensive than light brown sugar because it is less common. Brown sugar is available in bulk quantities up to 50 pounds if you need a lot. One of the smaller bags will last a long time for most home cooks.