October 5, 2017

Sugar Cane

During Garry's first trip to Singapore, he tasted freshly squeezed sugar cane juice in a Hawker market, and was surprised by its greenish yellow color and combination of expected and unexpected flavors. Some of the tasting notes sparked his curiosity about the sweetness of cane sugar compared to refined sugar, such as molasses, hints of vanilla, and grassy/hay notes.

Sugar Cane(Saccharum officcinarum)

Sugar cane is one of the world’s largest cash crops, and we are all familiar with the various products derived from it. Table sugar, molasses, and rum are among the many products made from this unique grass. During my years training to be a flavorist I had worked on molasses, brown sugar and rum flavors. These were fun and interesting flavors to develop but I had never considered the need for a sugar flavor. After all, refined sugar- sucrose- has little flavor or aroma. This was an unlikely target for a flavorist to focus on.

Trip to Singapore

That changed on my first trip to Singapore. It was in one of Singapore’s Hawker markets that I first had the pleasure of tasting the juice of freshly squeezed sugar cane. As I watched the sugar cane being crushed I expected it would be sweet with some molasses overtones. I was a bit surprised that the color was a greenish yellow and since we first taste with our eyes I could imagine that there might be a citrus overtone to the juice.

On my first sip there were the notes I expected, there was the taste of some molasses character, with grassy and hay like overtones. There were some mild malty, sulfurous notes more in aroma than taste. As I continued to drink the juice I found some delightful vanilla notes. I could imagine that low levels of vanillin and heliotropine and maybe methyl guaiacol might be present.

Overall the juice was a pleasant drink, but certainly not the best juice I had ever tasted. Then as I continued to drink the beverage I began to wonder about its sweetness. It had a very pleasant rounded sweetness that seemed to last longer that the sweetness of refined sugar. I wondered how the cane sugar juice would compare to a solution of refined sucrose at the same level of sugar.

Adding Sweetness without Sugar

When I compared the cane sugar juice to the same level of sucrose in water the juice was sweeter and more rounded in its profile. This shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Many flavor molecules have sweetness in addition to aroma. However, this was an epiphany for me, the flavor notes naturally present in cane sugar contribute to its sweetness, and are lost during processing.

This was the beginning of our line of “Taste of Sugar” flavors. These flavors do not replace sugar but can be used to enhance the sweetness of sugar and sugar substitutes. Typically, the use of these flavors will allow for a 20% reduction in sweetener and can had a natural roundness to high intensity sweeteners like Stevia or sucralose. We invite you to taste the difference our Taste of Sugar Flavors can make in your product. All of these flavors are available as liquids and as powders and come in following flavors, Natural Cane Sugar Type Flavor, Natural Honey Type Flavor, Natural Brown Sugar Type flavor. All these flavors are sugar free and simply labeled as Natural Flavor.