Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sucre – Sugar. Sugar on French Menus and Sugar in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Sugar Beets.
Sucre – Sugar.

This post includes the most popular sugars that you will find in the supermarkets in France and on French menus. There are others but I have knowingly omitted them as most French men and women do not buy them for home use, and they are rarely seen on French menu listings.

Sucre or Sucre Semoule– The names that are also used for caster sugar.

Caster, castor sugar or sucre semoule on French menus:

Fraises au Sucre, Glace au Basilic Strawberries with sugar, glazed with basil, the herb

Fromage Blanc Au Sucre – White cheese with castor sugar. On many menus, in country restaurants, a fresh white cow’s milk cheese will be served as a dessert, and it will be accompanied by sugar and often berries.
Of the hundreds of fresh white cheeses that you will see in France’s markets and Supermarkets, the brand Petit Suisse is still France’s most popular fresh white cow’s milk cheese. The cheese’s consistent quality and its availability in various fat percentages beat the fruit flavored cheeses and all competitors combined. For me and many others, including many children, no other fresh white cow’s milk cheese can beat Petit Suisse.
Sucre de Betterave – Sugar from sugar beets.
Sucre de Betterave – Sugar from sugar beets; the sugar beet itself is called the betterave sucrière in French.

Foie Gras Mi- Cuit Maison, Sucré De Betterave, Jeunes Pousses Craquantes Et Toasts Tiédis Fattened duck’s liver very lightly cooked in this restaurant’s unique manner. The liver is cooked in sugar beet sugar and served with the young crunchy shoots of vegetables and accompanied by warm toast.

Tarte au Sucre du Nord –  A soft brioche type tart that uses beet sugar and is caramelized with crème fraiche, This is a traditional tart from the region of France close to Belgium.

Sucre Blanc

Sucre Blanc – Ordinary white table sugar. In French, that’s sucre de table.

Tarte Tiède au Sucre Blanc, Glace Vanille Bourbon - A warm tart with white sugar glazed with Bourbon vanilla.

Crème Brulée au Sucre Blanc – A Crème Brulée prepared with ordinary white beet sugar

Sucre de Canne - Cane sugar.

Sucre de Canne - Cane sugar. Cane sugar is still an important part of the economy in France’s Caribbean and Indian Ocean departments and, of course, the source of France’s famous rum.  The history of sugar cane in the French economy includes much of France’s sorry involvement in the slave trade.

Cane Sugar on French Menus:

Crème Brûlée Au Sucre De Canne Roux Et Parfumée À La Mandarine Rhum  -  A Crème Brûlée flavored with a brown cane sugar and perfumed with a mandarin (tangerine) flavored rum.

Crêpes Beurre, Sucre de Canne, Cannelle  -  Buttered crepes flavored with cane sugar and cinnamon.
Sugar cane
Sucre Cassonade
Brown cane sugar also called in the UK, Demerara sugar.

Sucre Cassonade is brown sugar produced from sugar cane separately to the sugar that will become white sugar. N.B. Today much of the so-called cassonade sold in stores is white cane sugar flavored and colored with molasses, so when buying the best brown sugar read the label well and choose the sugar with no additions. The sugar used to make French rum uses the real cassonade, and it accounts, in part, for the color of the rum.

Brown cane sugar on French Menus:

Saumon Confit au Sel et Sucre Cassonade et Pomme Granny Smith, Crémeux au Yuzu, Quelques Points de Wasabi -  Atlantic salmon slowly cooked in salt and brown cane sugar with Granny Smith apples accompanied by a creamy Yuzu sauce dotted with wasabi.
The Yuzu

Yuzu is a member of the citrus family that originated in China; it has a taste somewhere between that of a grapefruit and an orange. In the Japanese kitchen, its rind is popular as it adds lots of flavor.  The number of French chefs who adopt this fruit for its unique and different taste is growing exponentially. N.B. Wasabi is Japanese horseradish, a very distant relation to the European horseradish but its taste serves the same purpose.

Sucre de Datte – Date sugar is made from finely cut sweet dates.  When date sugar is in a dish on your menu it will have been used for its taste and texture, and will not disappear like refined sugar; small pieces of date will still be seen in the dish. Date sugar is rarely processed; its attraction is in its taste and texture and the way it is used.

Date sugar on French Menus:

Barres De Granola Au Chocolat et Sucre de Datte Chocolate coated granola bars flavored with date sugar.
Date sugar

Sucre de Palme – Palm sugar; the name used for sugar produced from the sap of a number of palms including the coconut palm. This light to dark brown sugar was initially only seen in Thai and other Asian cuisines but now reaches French menus in fusion recipes.

Palm sugar on French Menus:

Beignets De Poissons Farcis Aux Oeufs, Sauce Sucre De Palme Et Vinaigre De Riz – Deep fried fish balls stuffed with eggs and served with a sauce made from palm sugar and rice vinegar.

Tarte au Chocolat, Figues Fraîches, Glace à la Figue et Sucre de Palme du Cambodge - A chocolate tart made with fresh figs glazed with palm sugar from Cambodia.

Grillade de Côtes de Porc Marinées au Sucre de Palme et à l'Huile de Sésame  -Grilled pork chops that have been marinated in palm sugar and sesame oil
Palm sugar

Sucre d'Orge - Barley sugar.

Barley sugar sweets, candies, from Moret sur Loing in the department of Seine et Marne was created by the Benedictine Monks in 1638, and its recipe was passed along to the Nuns of Moret sur Loing. The nuns stopped making the product in 1972 but sold the recipe and the name to a private company. There is now a brother and sisterhood called the Confrérie du Sucre d'Orge des Religieuses de Moret sur Loing, and they promote the sugar; they do this while wearing would be ancient costumes and work to create interest in the product; nevertheless, they are not a religious order. Since 1-1-2016 they commune of Moret sur Loing has merged with another commune and become Moret-Loing-et-Orvanne

Their Confrérie claims that the original recipe is still used and this consists of boiling down refined cane sugar with barley water and cream of tartar. In the town of More sur Loing, there is a Musée du Sucre d'Orge in the town, the Barley Sugar Museum

Soufflé à la Pomme  et Sucre d'Orge des Religieuses De Moret Sur Loing A soufflé with apples and the barley sugar from Moret sur Loing.
Brochettes De Fruits De Saisons Grillées, Glace À L'orange, Caramel Et Sucre D'orge. – Skewers of the season's fresh fruits grilled and the glazed with oranges, caramel, and barley sugar

Crème Brûlée au Sucre D'orge Crème Brûlée flavored with barley sugar.

Barley sugar sweets (candies).

Sucre en Morceaux – Sugar cubes.
Sucre Glace - Icing sugar.
Icing sugar on French menus:
Tarte Fine Individuelle aux Pommes, Sucre Glace avec une Boule De Glace -  Individual flat puff pastry tarts served with apples and icing sugar and one scoop, in France that’s usually a ball, of  ice-cream,

Baba au Rhum Arrosé, Crème Battue au Sucre Glace – A Rum Baba basted with whipped cream and sprinkled with icing sugar.
Sucre Pâtissier -   Baker’s sugar

Sucre Pâtissier -   Confectioner's sugar, also called powdered sugar. Confectioner's sugar is finer than castor sugar and used by bakers for decorating and glazing as well as for some recipes.  
Sucre Perle - Pearl sugar.  Crunchy pieces of sugar made in Belgium to be able to withstand short baking times and used in France to decorate some pastries especially chouquettes.
Sucre Roux – Brown sugar.
Sucre Roux – Brown sugar.  Brown sugar comes from both sugar cane and sugar beets; the while the two products are named differently they do have different tastes, but the caloric value is the same. On menus, the name sucre roux will often be used for either of the two brown sugars.

Brown Sugar on French Menus

Ananas Rôti et Flambé au Cointreau et Sucre Roux Bananas roasted and then flambéed in Cointreau and brown sugar,

Crème Brulée à la Vanille et Sucre Roux Crème Brulée flavored with vanilla and brown sugar.
Brown sugar crystals
Sucre Semoule – Caster, or castor sugar.
Sucre Vergeoise or Vergeoise
Sucre Vergeoise or Vergeoise –  The brown sugar produced from beet sugar by reheating the sugar a second or third time.  Vergeoise may also be flavored and colored with molasses; molasses are a byproduct of the refined sugar whether from sugar cane or sugar beets.  Read the label.

Poitrine de Porc Laquée à la Moutarde et Sucre Vergeoise, Choucroute et Datte Farcies Pork belly lacquered with mustard and brown beet sugar and served with choucroute and stuffed dates.

Figues de Solliès Rôties au Sucre Vergeoise, Touche Praliné, Sorbet Yaourt et Thym The AOC figs from the town of Solliès in the department of Var in the region of  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.  Here they are prepared with brown beet sugar and a touch of praline chocolates accompanied by a sorbet of yogurt and thyme. N.B. French pralines are different to most of those made in Belgium or the USA and are almost always flavored with almonds or hazelnuts.
Sucré - Sweetened.
Sucrier – A sugar-Bowl.

A short history of the Sugar Cane and Sugar Beet Industry

Sugar cane originated in New Guinea or India, the origin is disputed. Both Papua New Guinea and India were cultivating sugar cane over 4,000 years ago with India developing the manufacturing of sugar crystals around 200 or 300 CE.

Darius, the Persian Emperor, invaded part of India in 510 B.C.E. as he already considered the sugar cane a valuable treasure. Two hundred years later Alexander the Great also pursued sugar cane in India but he was fighting in the North, and sugar cane was grown in the south!  
Alexander the Great on horseback.
Bronze of the Roman period (1st century CE)

The Arabs brought sugar cane from Persia and India probably as early as the 7th or 8th-century CE:  however, it was not until the Crusades in the 11th century that the Europeans were introduced to sugar cane. Then from the 14th century, the Spanish began developing a sugar cane industry on their Island of Madeira; later the French began developing sugar cane production in the Caribbean Islands. 

Beets of many types had long been grown in Europe; the Greeks and Romans brought beets to France, mostly for use as animal fodder; at that time and for 1,600 years afterward no one knew that some beets contained sugar.

In the 17th century a German botanist, Andreas Margraff, showed that one of the beets produced the same sucrose crystals as sugar cane; nevertheless, it still took another 70 years before sugar beet became a real industry. Then, during one of the Napoleonic wars,  with England, the English cut off France’s supply of imported cane sugar from its Caribbean islands. In response Napoléon I ordered the planting of sugar beets and erection of factories to produce refined sugar.  Voila, Europe now had its own supply of sugar and sugar finally became cheaper than honey in France.
Napoleon I while still a General.
Today, after many ups and downs most European sugar comes from European sugar beet. Nevertheless, France still imports sugar made from cane in its overseas Caribbean and Indian Ocean Island regions and at the same time is a great European sugar beet producer and exports a great deal.. The USA also grows some sugar beets, but most USA sugar comes from sugar cane with Hawaii and Brazil the largest suppliers.

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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