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Are you wondering if brown sugar is gluten-free or not? If yes, please read our ‘Is brown sugar gluten free’ article to know all the details.
Sugar forms one of the main ingredients in your kitchen apart from salt. Sugar is used as a sweetener in almost all dessert dishes. And therefore, it plays a crucial role in maintaining your health.
Brown sugar has been in use more than any other type of sugar as it gives a rich sweet flavor with added pleasantness. So let us find out, Is brown sugar gluten-free? First of all, you need to understand why we need to watch out for gluten content in our diet.
1. What Is Gluten? Why Do We Need to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet?
Gluten is an insoluble protein made up of gliadin and glutenin proteins. It is usually found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and other crops. It maintains the elastic consistency of the dough and traps air in it that makes the baked food items made from wheat flour (like bread) soft and fluffy.
The presence of gluten in food items causes wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease can cause bloating, gas, weight loss, belly pain, infertility, fatigue, depression, inflammation, and damage to the intestine’s linings.
To avoid going through all this pain, you must follow a gluten-free diet. Therefore checking if sugar is gluten-free is a must. So, let’s get back to our question, Is brown sugar gluten-free or not?
2. How Is Sugar Obtained?
Sugar is usually obtained from grass plant sugarcane, traditionally extracted from its stick or beetroots. The sugarcane or beetroot is crushed in factories, and its juice is extracted. This extracted juice, when processed, further forms different types of sugar.
2.1. Different Types of Sugar
There are three types of sugar that we have mentioned below in detail:
2.1.1. Raw Sugar
When the sugarcane juice is extracted and is left unrefined, raw sugar is obtained. The quantity of molasses is high in raw sugar due to the natural additives.
This type of sugar is 100% pure and rich in minerals and nutrients. This is because it is not processed with chemicals, unlike brown and white sugar.
2.1.2. White Sugar
The raw sugar undergoes chemical processing and is refined to obtain white sugar.
This type of sugar contains no minerals or vitamins. This is because raw sugar loses its nutritional value in the process of changing to white sugar. Consumption of excess white sugar can be hazardous for your health.
2.1.3. Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is obtained from white sugar when mixed with molasses. It is usually seen that brown sugar comes in two varieties: light brown sugar and dark brown sugar.
The quantity of molasses being added in the process defines its color. Like white sugar, brown sugar also lacks nutritional value.
So, when you look closely at sugar manufacturing, you can notice that manufacturers leave no possibility for sugars to be glutinous.
In fact, some of the organizations explicitly claim that their product is gluten-free. To give a few examples:
- Wheatsome sweeteners claim that their product is “prepared and bundled in a gluten-free climate.”
- Sugar in Raw claims on its FAQ page that its product “contains no gluten, nor does it come into contact with the glutinous item.”
- Domino Sugar Product expresses on its FAQ page that “None of our sugars contain gluten.”
When manufacturers are so sure that sugar is gluten-free, do they claim this for all types of sugar?
3. Is Brown Sugar Gluten Free?
Sugar is naturally gluten-free as it is prepared from grass plant juice extract, which contains no gluten. Does this simple statement answer our question, Is brown sugar gluten-free?
Although Domino Sugar Product states that confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar contains 3% corn starch it’s FAQ page. This usually adds up to 0.01% of corn gluten to it. This is mainly done to prevent any caking in the sugar.
Except for confectioners’ sugar, no other ingredient is added to any other type of sugar. Particularly Brown sugar is made up of granulated sugar and molasses, which is naturally gluten-free.
3.1. What Is Molasses?
Molasses is a thick, dark syrup produced in the process of extracting sugar from sugarcane or beetroot. You can even prepare your own molasses at home by just boiling sugarcane sticks or beetroots. The fluid left after the sticks or beets are taken out is molasses.
After knowing how sugar is prepared from grass plants, you can be assured of it being gluten-free. So for the question, is brown sugar gluten-free? The answer is yes. But then why do we see gluten content in our sugar sometimes?
4. When Doesn’t Your Brown Sugar Remain Gluten-Free?
Although every sugar is gluten-free it is at the manufacturing unit. The sugar doesn’t remain gluten-free on the way to reach you, passing through restaurants, supermarkets, and retail stores.
At the restaurant, it may happen while baking a cake; the chef uses a flour-coated spoon in the jar of sugar. Or even you put your sugar at a high risk of it not remaining gluten-free in your shared kitchen.
At supermarkets or retail stores, it is seen that sugar and items containing gluten are kept side by side. This way, the chances of your sugar not remaining gluten-free increases due to airborne cross-contamination.
For your sugar to remain gluten-free throughout its shelf life, you should always use an unused spoon while scooping sugar. Also, when you go shopping at retail stores, check the sugar if it is kept apart from the items containing gluten.
Always dust off the packet of sugar for any gluten contamination. Watch out for each step of sugar after it is out from the manufacturing unit for its gluten presence. Check the label of gluten-free sugar before buying just to be sure of its purity.
So, is brown sugar gluten-free? Yes, until the time it is not contaminated with the food items containing gluten, it is gluten-free.
5. Gluten-Free Marked Sugar Brands
Sugar is naturally gluten-free but still, some of the companies and brands mark their sugar as gluten-free. They do this for customer satisfaction and to make them assured about the proper handling and bundling at the manufacturing unit. Some of these brands are:
- Relative Foods
- Big Tree Farms
- Traders Joes’
6. Sugar Products Which Are Gluten Free
There are many sugar products in the US markets which claim their sugar to be gluten-free. These are branded and trustworthy brands that follow standard quality procedures. Still, for your satisfaction, don’t forget to check the ingredient list and label on the packets before buying. The gluten-free sugar products are:
- Sugar in the Raw
- Wholesome Sweeteners
- Domino and Florida Crystals
Apart from going for gluten-free labeled sugar brands and products, you can also go for alternate sweeteners. These are high in nutritional value and are 100% gluten-free. Plus, these do not add to the sugar levels in your body. Therefore it is a good fit for diabetic people as well.
Some of the natural sweeteners are honey, dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, and others. In comparison, some artificial sweeteners are equal Sweeteners, sugar Twin sweeteners, Sweet and Low, and Whole Earth sweeteners.
7. Long Story Short
Brown Sugar is granulated and is prepared in two forms, i.e., light or dark brown sugar. Also, brown sugar or any other type of sugar is naturally gluten-free unless the manufacturer adds any fillers or flavorings to it. And as long as it is handled and bundled properly, brown sugar is absolutely gluten-free.
It is important to check for gluten content in your sugar as gluten is harmful to health. It can cause celiac disease and can even damage the intestines.
Usually, your sugar does not remain gluten-free at the place of its use, i.e., at restaurants and your kitchens. This happens due to cross-contamination and your habit of using the same spoon for scooping in sugar and the items containing gluten.
To avoid this, always use the unused spoon. Properly check the ingredients and the label on the packets of sugar before buying. At retail stores, check for any chances of cross-contamination.
If you are still not assured of your sugar for it to be gluten-free, go for the alternatives available in the market.
There are products and brands in the market that claim gluten-free sugar, which you can go for. Also, natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners available in the market can prove to be the best alternative to your regular sugar.
Did we finally get the answer to the question, is brown sugar gluten-free? What steps do you take to be assured of gluten-free sugar? Which are your favorite products and brands? Please let us know in the comments below.
8. Frequently Asked Questions
8.1. What Is the Purpose of Honey, Molasses, or Other Sugar in 100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipes?
The purpose of honey, molasses, or other sugars in 100% whole wheat bread recipes is to provide a source of sweetness and enhance the flavor of the bread. Additionally, the sugars can also help to promote browning and crust formation during baking, and can also act as a humectant, which helps to keep the bread moist and fresh for a longer period of time.
Sugars also play a role in the fermentation process that occurs during bread making. Yeast, a type of fungus, ferments the sugars to produce carbon dioxide, which causes the bread to rise. The yeast also produces alcohol and other by-products that contribute to the flavor of the bread. Additionally, the sugars in the dough can act as a food source for the yeast, which helps to promote a strong and healthy fermentation.
Another important aspect of sugars in bread making is the Maillard reaction. It is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives bread its characteristic color and flavor. The Maillard reaction occurs when bread is baking, it intensifies the browning of the crust and also creates a wide range of flavors, including nutty, toasty, and caramel notes.
In 100% whole wheat bread recipes, honey, molasses, or other sugars can also help to balance out the strong, nutty flavor of whole wheat flour and make the bread more palatable for some people.
8.2. Why Is Sugar Bleached? Also, Why Is Brown Sugar Colored Brown? What Are the Effects and Reasoning of This?
Sugar is bleached to remove any impurities and to lighten its color. The process of bleaching sugar is typically done by treating raw sugar with bone char, a byproduct of the meat industry, which acts as a filter to remove impurities. The bone char also removes the natural color from the sugar, resulting in a bright white color. This is done to appeal to consumer’s preference for a white color and to make it easier to package and store.
Brown sugar is colored brown because it contains a small amount of molasses, which gives it its characteristic color and flavor. Brown sugar is made by mixing white granulated sugar with molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. The amount of molasses in brown sugar can vary, which affects the intensity of its color and flavor. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses and has a stronger flavor than light brown sugar.
Bleaching sugar and coloring brown sugar are done to appeal to consumer preferences and to make the products more visually appealing. Bleaching sugar is also done to make it easier to package and store. However, it should be noted that some people prefer unrefined sugar because it is considered to be more natural and healthy and they prefer to avoid products that have been processed.
8.3. How Can You Make Brown Sugar Soft Again?
Brown sugar can become hardened and difficult to use if it is not stored properly or if it has been exposed to air for a long period of time. However, there are several ways to make brown sugar soft again:
- Microwave method: Place the hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and add a damp paper towel or a slice of bread on top. Microwave on low power for 30 seconds at a time, and check the sugar after each interval. Once the sugar has become soft, remove it from the microwave and use it immediately.
- Oven method: Place the hardened brown sugar in an oven-safe dish and cover it with a damp paper towel. Place the dish in the oven and heat it at a low temperature (around 200°F) for about 5-10 minutes, or until the sugar has become soft.
- Humidity Method: You can add a small piece of apple, or a damp cloth or paper towel to the container. Seal it tight and wait for a day or two.
- Stovetop method: Place the hardened brown sugar in a pan and add a small amount of water. Heat the sugar over low heat, stirring constantly, until it has become soft.
It’s important to note that the sugar should be used immediately after softening it as it will harden again quickly. Proper storage is also important to keep brown sugar soft, such as keeping it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.