Although refined white sugar is made from natural sugar cane or sugar beets, the natural juices are processed several times before becoming the final crystallized, granulated product. Refined white sugar is pure sucrose, the final filtered state of the processed juice. The white sugar that remains after the multi-step processing is a pure carbohydrate, with all the natural vitamins and minerals removed. Organic natural milled sugar is a product of the sugar mill and is never sent to a refinery.
Organic sugar products are made from certified organic sugar cane or sugar beets. Organic sugar cane and sugar beets are grown without the use of synthetic herbicides or insecticides, using sustainable farming practices that conserve soil and resources. The organic plants are not altered through bioengineering, and the products are not exposed to ionizing radiation. The sugar industry touts refined white sugar as being “pure,” which only refers to the purification and filtering processes used to turn raw sugar into refined, pure sucrose.
Both sugar cane and sugar beets are used to make refined white sugar in the U.S. Processing begins at the sugar mills, which are located near the fields. Sugar mills first extract the sweet juice, and then clarify it and evaporate some of the water so it has a syrupy consistency. This is called raw sugar, which is then shipped to a refinery for further processing.
Milled sugar uses the sugar crystals from the first milled juice of sugar cane plants. Milled sugar still contains the natural vitamins and minerals, which are in the molasses in the natural juice. Organic milled sugar, made from organically grown plants, may be various shades of brown due to different levels of natural molasses content. It is a product from the sugar mill and has not been further refined. In most U.S. sugar mills, vacuum evaporation and centrifugal processes convert the juice into a crystallized product, according to The Western Sugar Cooperative.
Organic natural milled sugar does not contain additives such as anti-caking agents. It does retain the natural vitamins and minerals from the sugar cane juice: iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium. Sugar is not deemed a good source of nutrients, however, since they are found only in trace amounts.
Rapadura and Sucanat
South American rapadura is milled by squeezing the juice from sugar cane and then evaporating, drying and sieving/grinding the resulting whole sugar. All of the molasses, which contains the vitamins and minerals, is retained. A similar whole sugar product called by the trade name, Sucanat, is milled in Puerto Rico. These milled sugar products are processed by hand and evaporated naturally, without vacuum or centrifugal equipment.