How is black sugar made?
Okinawa black sugar is produced by juicing sugar cane and boiling the nectar until it becomes thick - a process that takes several hours. The sugar is allowed to cool then cut into blocks. It may also be crushed into a powder.
Other Types of Black Sugar
There are some variations throughout the region known as Taiwanese black sugar and Chinese black sugar. Yunnan black sugar, which comes from China’s southwest region, is also popular.
Uses for black sugar
In Japan, along with neighbouring China and Taiwan, black sugar isn’t just a delicacy, but also a common remedy for colds. Mixed with ginger tea, it is said to relieve nausea. It is even used by some women to treat menstrual pain thanks to its iron content.
Black sugar syrup
Black sugar syrup has become popular as a base for boba tea, while black sugar powder has found its way into sweet and salty snacks across South Korea.
The trend has also made its way to the United States via San Francisco. The city’s Black Sugar shop sells something called Black Sugar Fresh Milk which contains boba soaked in black sugar.
How to Make Black Sugar Syrup
If you are curious to sample this trend at home, try this easy recipe as soon as you get your hands on some black sugar (which is easily available online):
- 2 parts black sugar
- 1 part water
- Place in a pan and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer.
- Cook, whisking occasionally, until the sugar granules have incorporated into the water and a smooth syrup is obtained. The process takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
In India, you’ll find a cousin of black sugar that goes by the name of jaggery or gur. Jaggery is produced similarly to Okinawa black sugar but has a deep brown colour. It is renowned for its health benefits and enjoyed throughout the winter months as it is believed to keep the body warm and improve circulation.
Black jaggery, which is obtained by further reducing the sugar cane syrup, is sold across India and used for medicinal purposes.
Black sanding sugar
Black sanding sugar, not to be confused with black sugar, is a variety of fine sugar used to decorate sweet confections. It is made from refined sugar and dyed to obtain its black colour.
Black Sugar vs. Brown Sugar
Most commercial brown sugar is refined sugar that has been stripped of molasses. After the refining process is completed, the molasses is added back to create a sugar higher in moisture. This is the typical brown sugar most of us have baked with at some time or another.
Popular brown sugars like Turbinado and Demerara, which have been minimally processed, are made from crystallised sugar cane juice. A third type of brown sugar known as Muscovado is produced in Barbados. It is also unrefined and retains its natural moisture.
These brown sugars are lighter in colour than black sugar because the cane juice was cooked for a shorter period. Fans of Okinawa black sugar believe it has a more complex flavour than brown sugar.
Where to Buy Black Sugar
Black sugar is readily available online and at Asian specialty stores.