Cane Sugar vs Granulated Sugar: What’s The Difference?

A comparison of cane sugar vs granulated sugar is an interesting case. There are clear and visible differences between these two sugars. But how they behave in practical use and recipes is often a distinction without a difference!

As we’ll see, there are several points that differentiate between these two sugars. Their color and origin can vary. However, their function and usability is largely the same. Which is why, while we can enumerate differences between these two sugars, they are rather similar in a practical sense.

Here’s a detailed look at this picture, and what these sugars have to offer.

Cane Sugar vs Granulated Sugar – The Highlights

Origin – Where Do These Sugars Come From?

Cane sugar, sometimes also called natural cane sugar, comes from sugar cane. Granulated sugar comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, or a mix of both. As such, both sugars often come from the same source. 

Also, there is pretty much no difference in granulated sugar sourced from sugar cane or sugar beets. Both plants offer near-identical sucrose, so the resultant granulated sugar from either is pretty much the same.

Color And Processing

Granulated sugar has a white color. Cane sugar maintains something of a blond color. The color difference is the easiest and simplest way to differentiate between these sugars.

The color of granulated sugar comes from processing sugar cane juice, until it’s white and crystallized. Interestingly, though cane sugar often gets labeled “natural”, it isn’t really all that removed from processing. It’s just slightly less processed than granulated sugar.

The difference in color does carry to the use in recipes, though it may not matter in most cases. For example, sugar cookies made from cane sugar are likely to have a deeper color. Similarly, making syrup with cane sugar will result in a blond or caramel color, unlike the usual colorless liquid. 

This is an important factor to keep in mind when choosing a sugar for your recipe. Cane sugar will affect the overall color of a recipe, while granulated sugar will stay largely neutral. 

Another difference often seen between these sugars is the size of the grain or crystals. Granulated sugar generally has uniformly-sized grains, while cane sugar crystals have more varying sizes. Also, cane sugar crystals/grains are usually bigger than their granulated sugar counterparts.

Is There A Difference In Taste?

Some people claim that natural sugar offers a better depth of taste. Most people do not see any difference in how these sugars taste. For all practical purposes, they have an identical taste. It’s near impossible to tell apart the sugars by taste when they’re consumed plain. When used in recipes, they taste pretty much the same.

Granulated sugar is almost entirely sucrose. Cane sugar generally carries a hint of the molasses flavor (and hence, the color). Less refined the sugar, more prominent is the molasses taste. 

However, most cane sugar is only slightly less processed than granulated sugar. So while it retains the color, the taste of molasses in the sugar might be unnoticeable.

Is Cane Sugar The Same As Granulated Sugar?

Cane sugar and granulated sugar are very similar, though not the same. Cane sugar exclusively comes from sugar cane. Granulated sugar can utilize sugar cane, sugar beet, or both. Cane sugar also has a blond color compared to the white color of granulated sugar. 

There is also a difference in texture. Grains of cane sugar are generally larger and less uniform than the almost uniformly-sized grains of granulated sugar.

Some people find that cane sugar has a deeper and more intense flavor, thanks to the presence of molasses in trace amounts. Even so, many people don’t see any difference in taste.

What Is Granulated Sugar?

Granulated sugar is the conventional white sugar most of us use at home. Its manufacture involves refining either sugar cane or sugar beets. The result is a sugar that’s made almost entirely out of sucrose and doesn’t have any additional flavors, like molasses in cane sugar.

FAQ

Can I Use Cane Sugar Instead Of Granulated Sugar?

Cane sugar and granulated sugar can be used interchangeably in most recipes. The biggest difference between both these sugars is the color, with cane sugar having something of a blond color. As taste and other properties go, they are rather similar, which makes it easier to use cane sugar in place of granulated sugar.

Are There Different Types Of Sugars For Baking?

There’s a fairly large variety or different types of sugar available for baking. These include granulated (white sugar), cane sugar, palm sugar, coconut palm sugar, brown sugar, and jaggery. 

Liquid sweeteners or sugars like agave nectar and honey are useful picks too and can add a nice flavor and taste to baked goods. Stevia is a popular sugar-free sweetener and works as a sugar replacement in several recipes.

Many baking recipes can also rely on fruits to provide sweetness as well as flavor to the baked goods.

Is White Sugar Cane Sugar?

White sugar is also known as granulated sugar. While it is near-identical to cane sugar, some differences between both of these sugars are possible, even though they aren’t that different in their properties. Cane sugar has a blond color, while white sugar is white. There’s also a subtle difference in taste, though it’s not evident in most recipes or even when tasting these sugars plain.

The Verdict

The biggest difference in a cane sugar vs granulated sugar comparison is the color. Other than that, both these sugars have pretty similar flavor, properties, and characteristics. Although, as detailed above, there are more differences in their origin, taste, and shape. However, for most practical purposes, they are very similar and are interchangeable for most recipes.

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