Something has been bugging me about brown sugar.
When I was a kid, I could swear it was browner. Much browner. And it had lumps which would grow with time as humidity entered the wrapping, forming little candy-like bursts of sweetness. Was it my imagination? Or maybe the manufacturers have changed formulation. Maybe tastes have changed. Maybe it's a difference between the east cost brand, Domino's, that was common where I grew up, compared to the west coast brands. I even tried different brands (one "organic" brand at Whole Foods was a little browner but not what I remember.)
The difference between white sugar and brown sugar is molasses. Sugar cane syrup is deep brown until it is refined to extract molasses from the white sugar. Brown sugar used to be partially refined sugar cane syrup but now, the manufacturers mix some molasses back into the white sugar to make brown sugar. This method gives better process control and flexible inventory.
Last week, I saw something new at Cosentino's (a local grocery store). "Dark Muscavado." Also known as Barbados sugar, it looked a lot like the brown sugar I remembered. I had to know, so it came home with me.
At the top is the dark muscavado. Below it are C&H dark brown on the left, and C&H golden brown on the right.
But the proof is, as always, in the tasting.
The muscavado was just what I remembered! Deep in color and flavor, very moist, prone to lumps from moisture. I used it in oatmeal and it was perfect, adding a depth of flavor that made the others pale by comparison (literally).
Locally, I have since seen at Lucky markets.
You can do it yourself: 1.5 teaspoons of unsulphured molasses per cup of white sugar for light, 1 tablespoon (that's 3 teaspoons) per cup for dark. Adjust to suit your preference.
The mystery of the brown sugar of my youth remains. Maybe East Coast readers will look at their sugar and report. Perhaps we will never know.
Perhaps I was secretly raised in Barbados.