Difference Between Sugar and Confectioners’ Sugar

Key Difference: Table sugar, granulated sugar or white sugar is the normal refined sugar that we purchase in the supermarket. Confectioners' sugar, also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar, is very fine powdered sugar. It differs from normal white sugar just in this manner. It is further powdered to be able to sift through a sifter. It also includes anti-caking agent.

Sugar has been a part of existence since the ancient times. Sugar is a carbohydrate and is composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  There are various types of sugars available such as monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose) and disaccharide (sucrose, maltose and lactose.)  The most common sugar used, which is table sugar or granulated sugar is known as sucrose. The production of the earliest sugar has been linked to the Indian subcontinent in ancient times. Sugar is most commonly derived from sugarcanes and sugar beets. While, sugar or table sugar and confectioners’ sugar are the same, the only difference is size, usage and processing.

Table sugar, granulated sugar or white sugar is the normal refined sugar that we purchase in the supermarket. Sugarcanes are harvested, chopped and removed of juices. The juices are removed with water or sugar is extracted by diffusion. The juice is s then clarified with lime and heated to kill enzymes. The heated juice turns into thin syrup which is concentrated in a series of evaporators after which further water is removed by evaporation in vacuum containers. The resulting supersaturated solution is seeded with sugar crystals and the sugar crystallizes out, is separated from the fluid and dried. The crystals are then bleached by sulphur dioxide or treated in order to make it white. Sugar is also available raw or in brown color; indicating it has not gone through with the bleaching process.

Confectioners' sugar, also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar, is very fine powdered sugar. It differs from normal white sugar just in this manner. It is further powdered to be able to sift through a sifter. It also includes anti-caking agent such as cornstarch, wheat flour, or calcium phosphate, which also allows it to flow more freely. Sugars which are added with calcium phosphate are most commonly not used to sweeten drinks and such. These sugars are most commonly used to make icing, frosting, cake decorations, or lightly dusted onto bake goods for sugary or glazed effect. Powdered sugar is available in different degrees of fineness, most commonly XXX, XXXX, and 10X, with more Xs indicating finer grains. One can also use normal table sugar in order to create confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar by blending it or using a mortar and pestle to grind it.

Producers of sugar also use powdered sugar to create specific shapes such as sugar cubes. Even basic white sugar comes in different sizes such as rock sugar, commonly known as misri in India.

Image Courtesy: thehindu.com, ehow.com

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