What is Demerara sugar and what can I use as a substitute?
Demerara sugar is a type of semi-unrefined sugar named after the Demerara River in Guyana. A Dutch colony on the river's banks, also called Demerara, was the site of one of South America's earliest sugar-cane works.
Sugar must be laboriously extracted from plants - either sugar cane or beets. Sugar cane is a tall, fat grass whose stalks are woody and jointed like bamboo. Once harvested, the cane is crushed and the "juice" is subjected to a battery of refining operations to remove impurities before being crystallized into white sugar.
Now, if sugar is crystallized before all the impurities are removed, the result is a nonwhite sugar that can range from dark brown to light tan. Demerara is one of these sugars. In the United States, Demerara sugar is often known as turbinado sugar. A well-known turbinado sugar is Sugar in the Raw.
Because of its high moisture content, brown sugar is not a good substitute for Demerara. Instead, use granulated brown sugar or regular white sugar.
Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food/Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.