Working With Sugar

I get it, sugar is not healthy. It is harmful. It is toxic. A slow acting poison. Can cause variety of diseases especially the ever popular diabetes. However, we can’t help ourselves. We eat it and keep craving for more. If we go back to the statement, too much of everything is bad. Then anything we eat in excess is bad. Alcohol in moderation is recommended, as well as coffee. Too much is discourage though. Sugar can make almost anything taste great and it is a good energy source. The bad side manifest when we start to consume to much. Ultimately, sugar is not to blame. It is the one who consume it in excess.

Why do producers add sugar? First, it is an essential component. Ice cream is not it is without. Candy, marshmallows, fudge, toffee and caramel are sugar based. Most fruit extract are sweet and sour by nature. Processors role is to keep or improve its taste. More often than not, sugar is added for the sake of consumer preference and standardization.

Sugar is a natural preservative, like salt. The two act by holding water in food rendering it unavailable for microbial use. This action can be observed by scrubbing fish with salt, or placing a fruit slice in plate of sugar. After few minutes, water can be seen oozing out.

The sugar itself and its product rarely need preservative.

Sugar is not bad at all. Let us free ourselves from guilt and start learning sugar science. The teacher is not me, but you. There is no better learning experience than doing it yourself.

Lately, I got interested in brittle making. The flat variegated shape sweet filled with nuts. I noted down several recipes and watched couple of YouTube videos. Gathered all the ingredients and tools. Failed about three times before finally got a good result. Few days later, I repeated what I did, but again, failed several times before getting a good result.

It brings me back to time when I was learning the art and science of chocolate tempering and molding. It took me about three months before getting my body to work with it comfortably. Then, more than a year to fix most of the loopholes. Sugar craft is no different. I have to master both art and science. Temperature is the key and what you do after reaching that temperature point will dictate the result.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.