Even though these words are used, it’s important to know that all regular brown sugar is refined and processed. What is called “raw” and “unrefined” is just the least processed.
Here is a list of all three, how they are refined, and the main ways they are different. The amount of molasses in dark brown sugar is higher than in light brown sugar, which just has less molasses.
Unrefined: Made from sugar cane by collecting and filtering the cane juice, then boiling off the water until a dark syrup called cane molasses forms around the sugar crystals. This has been cooled and dried. The darker the colour, the more sugar was kept. Most of the time, unrefined sugar is thicker than the other two.
Raw: Made in the same way as unprocessed brown sugar, the difference is in how it is spun. In this step, the sugar crystals are spun and dried in a box with holes, which helps them keep as much molasses as possible.
Refined: This is the most common type of sugar and is just white sugar mixed with molasses. It can be made from sugar cane, sugar beets, or a combination of the two.
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