Sugars and syrups

 Sugars and syrups Key facts Historically, sugar was very expensive, so honey was often used instead. Sugar is derived from either sugar cane or sugar beet, with most world production occurring in Brazil and the Caribbean. More than half the harvesting is done by hand - the field is set fire to first, to burn any leaves and venomous snakes!

Unrefined sugar
These are made from pure unrefined sugar cane, which means that the colour and flavour naturally present in the sugar cane has not been refined out to make the sugar pure white. The most recent addition to this range is unrefined icing sugar. I love its flavour and pale-caramel colour when made into icing, and so would now not use white.

Golden syrup
A very British favourite, something that should always be available for sauces, puddings, butterscotch, sticky toffee sauce, treacle puddings or spread thickly on home-made bread with a generous amount of butter.

This is the dark-ebony syrup that’s left over after sugar has been refined – in unrefined sugars the molasses is included in different degrees. It’s very concentrated, so only a little is needed. When I first started cooking, you could buy dark (as opposed to golden) syrup. Now it’s no longer available, but a little molasses added to golden syrup gives the same effect. One important point though: now that molasses is widely available, always use it in place of black treacle in recipes – more expensive, but lots more rich, luscious flavour.

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