When I came from the Caribbean in March, I came with a couple bags of washed grey sugar. Sugar, along with rum; in the Caribbean; are by products of the sugar cane plant. It still grown and harvested throughout the Caribbean.
When I was coming through customs with the sugar, I kept having visions of trying to explain to the officer why I had these bags of sugar with me and each one of them was more obscene than the last.
But it was primarily for Victoria and feeding her caffeine addiction, but after I discovered most brown sugar sold in the US, is actually white sugar washed in molasses and is almost impossible to sauté without burning, i was using it for my cooking needs as well.
clockwise from top; white sugar, caribbean washed grey, american brown
The first time i realised the difference between Caribbean and US brown sugars was in the midst of making stewed pork for dinner. Stewing in the Caribbean sense requires sautéing the sugar until it almost burnt and then adding your meat of choice to be coated or browned by this caramelised sugar. With US brown sugar, but the time I’d turned to get the meat out of the bowl, the sugar had gone past the lovely brown bubble to burnt and stuck to the pan; not at all good.
the first step of the browning process, the sugar in oil over a high heat
The key to good browning is patience and timing, waiting until the outermost edge of the sugar is black and looks like it’s about to burn before adding your ingredients.
sugar beginning to carmelize and ready for you to add your ingredients
So great is my need for sugar, every time I know someone is travelling to the Caribbean, my primary request is for sugar. Currently we’re out, but I know someone travelling in two weeks and there are a couple other people that have care packages to send for me, so i haven’t started to panic, yet.