Whole Cane Sugar: A Better Way to Sweeten

“What kinds of sweeteners do you use?”   People ask me this food question more than any other.  In a world with so many choices, navigating our way through all the “healthy” sugars out there can cause confusion.

Many products proclaim themselves “natural” or “raw” sweeteners, despite the heavy processing involved in their production.  “Raw” sugar stands as a favorite example; most producers take processed white sugar and add a bit of molasses for color!  Today, I want to share with you a favorite, versatile, and genuine sweetener.

I love using organic whole cane sugar (or Sucanat) for baking and cooking.  Producers take juice from organically-grown sugar cane and simply dehydrate it.  The resulting crystals stay rich in minerals, trace elements, and vitamins, so I can use the deep, rich flavor guilt-free – in moderation, of course!

Organic whole cane sugar makes a perfect 1 for 1 substitute for white sugar.  I use organic whole cane sugar to bake, cook, sprinkle, and sweeten my tea.

Using Whole Cane Sugar

I’ve learned that whole cane sugar can replace many refined sweeteners we’ve grown accustomed to using. For example:
• Instead of brown sugar, stir together one cup of whole cane sugar with two tablespoons of real maple syrup until it’s a moist, wholesome substitute.
• You might also grind whole cane sugar in a coffee grinder until powdery, as a perfect stand-in for powdered white sugar.

If you’re new to unprocessed natural sweeteners, these raspberry bars provide a perfect recipe to get your feet wet.  Whole wheat flour, oats, and raspberries baked together create a yummy and gooey afternoon snack.

Oatmeal Raspberry Bars

Adapted from Real Simple
Serves 8

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup organic whole cane sugar or Sucanat
¼ teaspoon sea salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 tablespoons water
¾ cup rolled oats
½ cup raspberry jam
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 ¼ cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375°F and adjust rack to middle position.  Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.  Pulse the flour, whole cane sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and water and pulse until the dough comes together.  Pour dough into a mixing bowl and knead in oats.  Reserve ½ cup of the dough and set aside.

Press remaining dough into the buttered pan.  In a small bowl, stir together the jam and extract.  Spread the jam evenly over the dough leaving a ¼-inch border around the edges.  Scatter the raspberries in a single layer over the jam and top with remaining dough.  Bake 25 minutes until edges are golden.  Cool 20 minutes before slicing.

41 Comments

  1. Ashley

    Thank you so much for posting this! Every time I walk through the baking section at our commissary I wonder about this stuff. I just hadn’t remembered to take the time to research it.

      • Becky

        Sorry not sugar… cane juice. Typing too fast.

  2. Deliciously Organic

    Jamie: Yes, I understand how you can get confused! The sugar labeled “evaporated cane juice” is basically white sugar, some are organic, and some have a little molassas added back to give it a brown color. The sweetener that is the least refined is dehydrated and will be labeled as such on the package. Here’s a link to the brand I use the most (the prices online are generally more expensive than what you can find in the store) http://www.amazon.com/Wholesome-Sweeteners-Sucanat-Organic-Dried/dp/B002MH15UI
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Homemade Pickles and a Memorial Day Menu =-.

  3. Satakieli

    We already use this (or at least a german brand equivalent) i love it!

    That recipe also looks really yummy, shame I used my raspberries yesterday to make chocolate raspberry biscotti, I suppose I’ll just *have* to buy some more!
    .-= Satakieli’s last blog: Faces =-.

  4. Stephanie P

    Thanks for sharing…it’s been so difficult to determine what “kind” of sugar to use. I had been buying organic Florida Crystals but still wasn’t sure. The cost comparison seems pretty equitable between that and the product listing you posted from Amazon.

    Have you or anyone else noticed a more molasses-like flavor whenever you use this?

  5. Deliciously Organic

    Stephanie: Yes, it has more of a molassas flavor than FL crystals. It is also darker in color, so your baked goods will come out darker. Most of the recipes on my blog contain whole cane sugar, so if you need more ideas for what desserts it works well in you can always search there. I actually buy my sugar from Azure Standard. Even if you have to pay shipping (they do local drop-offs along the west coast and you aren’t charged shipping) it is about $2 a pound and the most cost efficient I’ve found so far. I usually order a #50 bag and split it with friends.
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Homemade Pickles and a Memorial Day Menu =-.

  6. marla {family fresh cooking}

    What a great, informative post. I am a huge fan of Carrie’s. She is an excellent cook and recipe developer.

  7. Lauren @ Just Add Lauren

    Thank you for the great post! On my blog this week I am actually talking about removing HFCS from my life and adding berries (two separate tasks), so this recipe is a great way to incorporate both ideas! I love the idea of berries and organic whole cane sugar, and i know it would be wonderful! Whenever I come upon some great organic berries, I’m going to give it a go! Thanks again for sharing!

  8. Amanda

    Is this the same as organic “Turbinado” sugar?
    .-= Amanda’s last blog: Information Overload =-.

  9. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

    I’ve been resisting truly getting into natural sweeteners because it seems there is such a price premium with little *real* improvement in nutrition, because you’re still consuming sugar after all. ?? I do use a lot of honey, but I still have the white sugar in my house!
    🙂 Katie

  10. Michelle Lambert

    What are your thoughts on using Agave nectar as a sweetener?

  11. Katie

    Carrie, I am definitely trying these raspberry bars soon! They look delicious! Thanks so much for this post! 🙂

  12. Deliciously Organic

    Michelle: After reading this article last year: http://www.trit.us/modernfood/HFCSAgave.pdf I gave up agave (sadly). From my understanding it is a new sweetener that was developed in the 1990s, is made from the starch of the agave root, and is produced very much the same as high fructose corn syrup. The chemical process (in which uses genetically modified enzymes) converts the startch into a fructose-rich syrup. The article goes much more in depth than this, but that is my basic understanding. While there are some agave syrups out there that are the “real deal” and processed without chemicals and such I’ve chosen to use other organic sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup instead.
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Homemade "Little Debbie" Devil Squares =-.

  13. Deliciously Organic

    Katie: I see your point. The reason I choose to use whole cane sugar over white sugar is because whole cane sugar is unprocessed and rich in minerals. White sugar on the other hand, is cleaned with phosphoric acid, calcuim hydroxide and then filtered through bone char. Also, a portion of sugar cane now produced in the U.S. is genetically modified. I personally don’t feel a “sugar rush” when I use whole cane sugar versus white refined sugar, but of course it’s all personal preference and what you feel most comfortable cooking and baking with.
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Homemade "Little Debbie" Devil Squares =-.

  14. Nicole aka Gidget

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve been wanting to figure out what is the best alternative for sweeteners since I don’t think I could ever give up sweets!! Love the 1-1 ratio for substituting in recipes, too.
    .-= Nicole aka Gidget’s last blog: Encylopedia of Me: D is for… =-.

  15. Michelle

    Hi!
    I have been using Rapadura for baking. Do you know off hand what the difference is between Rapadura and Organic Whole Can Sugar/Sucanat? Thanks for any advice!

  16. Deliciously Organic

    Michelle: Rapadura and whole cane sugar/sucanat are the same thing. The reason I don’t call it rapadura is because Rapunzel (the brand that sells rapadura here in the states) changed their labels and can no longer call it rapadura (for legal reasons). Instead their labels say “organic whole cane sugar”.
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Homemade "Little Debbie" Devil Squares =-.

  17. Mary Beth

    Thanks so much for this discussion. I have been so confused about the whole “healthier sugar” question. I was glad to see the product you linked to on Amazon is exactly what they sell at my local health food store. And thanks so much for clearing up the question about Rapadura! That was driving me crazy because I couldn’t find it. Now I know why.

  18. Janice

    Please post more recipies with rapidura (or sucanat)! I am trying to use this more but find there are subtle differences in baking (I cannot make caramel for the LIFE of me!!!). But I still love baking with my two boys so I need more good recipies. I think they will love this one when the raspberries ripen in my neck of the woods!

  19. Deliciously Organic

    Janice: If you need more recipes with rapadura you can go to my blog: http://www.deliciouslyorganic.blogspot.com Where you will find dozens of dessert recipes using sucanat. Btw: the caramel work, but you have to cook it very slowly. It is already dark in color and I’ve found that it can burn a little easier than white sugar. I’ll have to do a post on caramel making with sucanat for you soon. 🙂
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Homemade "Little Debbie" Devil Squares =-.

  20. Kika

    I use mostly honey now in my baking but still use organic sugar and organic maple syrup for certain things. Is organic sugar way better for us, though, than regular refined sugar… or would it have to be rapadura/sucanat?!

    • Katie

      I use a lot of honey and maple syrup and they are both nutritious options, too, especially if they are raw – but even cooked, they are much better than organic white sugar.

      • Deliciously Organic

        Yes I agree! I use lots of raw honey and organic maple syrup in my cooking and baking also.
        .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Apricot Preserves =-.

      • Kika

        So if it just says “organic sugar” then that would be the organic white sugar you are referring to (even though it isn’t exactly white – more light brown)? I’m trying to get this straight.

        • Deliciously Organic

          Yes, if I say organic sugar then I’m referring to organic white sugar. Sorry! Don’t mean to confuse you!
          .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Chicken and Pecan Quiche =-.

  21. Deliciously Organic

    Organic whole cane sugar (also known as sucanat or rapadura) is much more nutritous than organic white sugar. If you look above (my reponse to Katie) there is more info as to the nutritional value of this sweetener.
    .-= Deliciously Organic’s last blog: Apricot Preserves =-.

  22. Amanda Scoggins

    I just ordered this, unlike Carrie I find I get the best deals online 9 I bake a lot so I prefer buying in bulk anyway, and when you are buying the kinds of things they sell at Whole Foods or health stores its hard not to beat the price 🙂 This link is for 6 24 oz bags with free shipping and 15% off on the subscribe and save program (which I love and use all the time) http://www.amazon.com/Rapunzel-Pure-Organic-24-Ounce-Packages/dp/B001E5DZIO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=grocery&qid=1278340409&sr=1-1

  23. Lois

    I just read something that said the difference between Rapadura and Sucanat is that Rapadura is slightly heated and dehydrated whole sugar, while Sucanat is a higher heated product that is separated during the extraction process and then the sugar and molasses are mixed back together… But…there are also many places that say they are the same thing. Are they?

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  26. Elle B

    I bought some cane sugar at Community Natural foods. I know it is not exactly the same as the whole cane sugar, but I was presuming it would be better for us than white sugar bought at the big names grocery stores. Only just now, trying to figure out better for us to use, sweeteners

  27. Tamara

    I an trying to find a way to use stalks of sugarcane to sweeten foods. I do not trust manufacturers because labels are often misleading. Also I read an article which said that those on the fields who chewed the sugarcane had no dental problems. Therefore I am thinking how to use a stalk of sugarcane itself? Puree it? In order to get any nutrients you’d probably have to include the pulp of the plant, same as for a smoothie. But I can’t find any measurement info on how to use the stalks or how to prepare it. Very frustrating. I guess we are so used to having things made for us (like the above evaporated cane sugar) it hasn’t found it’s way onto the net yet.

  28. Household Budgeting Guy

    What about Florida Crystals Organic Cane Sugar? Is this REALLY organic and chemical free?

  29. Laura

    My daughter and I are discussing how we can get to the bottom of a discussion about the difference between Organic Whole Cane Sugar (so labeled) or just Organic Cane Sugar. Is it one and the same?

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