The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that people on a 2,000 calorie a day diet consume no more than 8 tsp. of sugar a day. But, that does not mean that anyone has to stick with traditional table sugar. Rapadura is one natural alternative to white sugar that has a distinct caramel flavor and grainy texture.
What is Rapadura?
Rapadura has long been used as a sweetener in Latin and South American countries. It is created by simply boiling sugar cane until the water evaporates. This resulted in a grainy, light brown sweetener that can be substituted for refined white sugar. Although rapadura is similar to white sugar in its chemical properties, it is considered to be a healthier option because it is less refined. Also, because it is less processed, rapadura retains a natural, caramel flavor.
Because the only process that rapadura undergoes is the evaporation of liquid, it retains far more vitamins and minerals than refined white sugar. Specifically, rapadura is high in iron, which is essential to the blood oxygenation. Rapadura is also high in silica, potassium, calcium and magnesium in comparison with other sugar alternatives. However, it is important to note than rapadura is is not as nutritious as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Rapadura is generally sold in solid blocks and can be found at health or specialty stores. It can be substituted for sugar in most recipes. Unlike some sugar substitutes, rapadura can be substituted one-for-one with sugar. For example, if a recipe calls for one cup of sugar, then simply replace it with one cup of rapadura. The flavor of rapadura is also a little deeper and richer than white sugar, so it adds complexity to baked goods.
Rapadura is occasionally confused with sucant, muscovado or demerara. However, it is important to note that rapadura is unique, with its own nutritional profile and flavor. Unlike some other sugar substitutes, rapadura is dehydrated at a low heat and is not separated from molasses, which is natural in sugar cane. In contrast, sucant is separated and later recombined with molasses.