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Organic or Natural Substitute for Brown Sugar

by
author image Christi Flaherty
Christi Flaherty has been writing food blogs since 2005 and has been a featured publisher with Daily Buzz Food since 2010. Though she has cooked since she could walk, she dedicated her career to all things food after attending a two-week course at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.
Organic or Natural Substitute for Brown Sugar
Brown sugar has a strong molasses flavor, so molasses is often a substitute. Photo Credit grafvision/iStock/Getty Images

The molasses-tinged flavor of brown sugar can be enjoyed in an organic or natural diet, you simply need to know the right substitutes Although brown sugar appears healthier with its brown color and robust flavor, it is created when molasses is added back to processed white sugar. Therefore, if you have chosen to eliminate processed foods from your diet, you probably have chosen to remove brown sugar from your pantry as well. Many recipes, whether sweet or savory, simple or complex, use brown sugar as an essential ingredient. Thankfully, though recipe modifications may be required at times, there are other natural and organic sweeteners that fill in the gap.

Easy Dry Substitutes

The most straight-forward approach to substituting a more natural product for conventional brown sugar is to use a product that has the same flavor and texture, meaning no other changes would be required to successfully create a recipe. Organic brown sugar would be the most apparent substitute and is available at most well-stocked grocery stores. Sucanat, an abbreviation for SUgar CAne NATural, is also a suitable swap for dark brown sugar because it is made by dehydrating whole sugar cane, allowing it to retain a strong molasses flavor. Date sugar and coconut sugar are also alternatives that require no recipe modifications and have equivalent flavor to brown sugar, although neither are made from sugar cane.

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Easy Liquid Substitutes

When making a sauce or simply sweetening hot cereals, there are reasonable liquid substitutes for brown sugar that don't require any modifications. Brown sugar often provides a dark sweetness to barbecue sauces; therefore molasses and even buckwheat honey, which has a hearty flavor sometimes compared to molasses, can both stand in for the brown sugar. Raw agave nectar, which has a flavor that is similar to brown sugar and stronger than its "light" and "amber" counterparts, can be used as a hot cereal sweetener or in sauces such as peanut sauce.

Dry Substitutes Requiring Modifications

A general substitute for brown sugar in baking is to use white sugar and molasses together to create the flavor and texture expected in brown sugar. When white sugar is not a part of your diet or, therefore, your pantry, the same results can be achieved by substituting organic sugar and molasses. For dark brown sugar, use 1 cup organic sugar with 2 tablespoons molasses. For light brown sugar, substitute 1 cup organic sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses.

Liquid Substitutes That Require Modifications

Raw agave nectar and molasses can also be used as substitutes for brown sugar in baking. Baking, however, depends on many variables -- much like science -- so a few modifications to the recipe are required to ensure baking success. To substitute molasses, use 1 1/3 cups molasses for each cup of brown sugar, and then decrease any other liquid, such as milk or water, by one-third cup and add 1/2-teaspoon of baking soda to flour and other dry ingredients. To substitute agave nectar, use 2/3-cup of agave nectar for each cup of sugar, reducing milk, water or other liquid by two tablespoons. A few changes to technique and equipment are necessary with agave as well. Mix agave nectar with other liquid ingredients before adding to flour; oven temperature must be decreased by 25 degrees and parchment paper should be used to line pans.

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