What is Barbados Sugar? (with pictures)

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Barbados sugar is made from sugar cane.
Barbados sugar is made from sugar cane.

Barbados sugar, more commonly called muscovado sugar or merely raw sugar, is a type of minimally processed sugar that is a dark brown in color. Like typical brown sugar, it is much more moist than granulated white sugar. It contains a higher amount of molasses, which makes the sugar stickier. People with health concerns may prefer this type of sugar because its minimal preparation technique means that it retains some of the vitamins and minerals present in the sugar cane.

Barbados sugar.
Barbados sugar.

On its own, Barbados sugar is popular for its darker, more molasses-tinged flavor. It’s popular in Britain, and today, may mostly be made in the Philippines. Barbados and muscovado sugar are essentially the same product. As a strict definition, this type of sugar should be exclusively made on Barbados, where muscovado sugar can be made anywhere that sugar cane is grown or processed.

Brown sugar can be substituted for Barbados sugar when baking cookies.
Brown sugar can be substituted for Barbados sugar when baking cookies.

To derive this sugar from sugar cane, the cane is chopped and pressed to release its juice. The juice is normally heated slightly, and it may have lime, coconut milk, and or/other acids added to cut down on the juice building up foam during the heating process. It is then sun dried in cups to evaporate most of the water, and when fully dry, it is pounded to break up the sugar crystals.

Since the process for making Barbados sugar is a simple one, it's sometimes referred to as poor man’s sugar. In a number of places, however, it's considered very desirable. It may be difficult to find outside of the areas where sugar cane is grown and processed in this manner, or outside of the UK. Consumers can order it online from a number of Internet stores, and it may be available at specialty or import grocery stores.

Cooks who have a recipe that calls for this sugar, but who are having trouble getting it, can usually substitute brown sugar in equal amounts. To get close to the same flavor, it's important for the cook to try to use the darkest, coarsest brown sugar she can find. Essentially, the greater the molasses content, the more closely the end product will taste like it is intended. Cooks can also add some dollops of molasses to help yield the rich unfinished taste.

There are some advantages to using Barbados sugar. During the refining process for white sugar, it is stripped of virtually all of its minerals. Sugar cane can be high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron, all of which are removed. Less refined sugar tends to retain these minerals in small amounts and is lower in calories. A teaspoon (4 grams) has about 11 calories in it, while the same amount of white sugar has 16 calories.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent DelightedCooking contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent DelightedCooking contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon342097

I just returned from Barbados last week with a pound from the St. Nicholas Abbey rum distillery. I love it. I came here looking for a US source. Compared to Sugar-In-The-Raw? While the grain size is comparable, Barbados sugar is much darker and, like brown sugar, has a distinct molasses flavor and stickiness.

claire24

Barbados sugar sounds like a great alternative to regular white table sugar. It's a shame that it can't be found easier in more areas. I would certainly like to try it.

Denha

Barbados sugar is also very similar to "sugar in the raw", referring to the fact that these sugars retain their dark colours thanks to being less processed.

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    • Barbados sugar is made from sugar cane.
      Barbados sugar is made from sugar cane.
    • Barbados sugar.
      Barbados sugar.
    • Brown sugar can be substituted for Barbados sugar when baking cookies.
      Brown sugar can be substituted for Barbados sugar when baking cookies.