Sugar can give many food products an appetising colour. This may be through caramelisation, the Maillard reaction, or because sugar is able to preserve colour.
The Maillard reaction (a reaction between sugar and amino acids) gives rise to browning and flavouring in products such as bread and coffee. The Maillard reaction is an extremely complex reaction and its end products include pigmentation, which causes coloration and aroma.
Caramelisation refers to the dehydration of sugar and occurs when a sugar solution is heated to above 100°C. The degree of caramelisation increases as the temperature rises and is dependent on the pH value.
Sugar molecules are initially broken down, after which the component substances react with one another, with water and with sugar that has not yet been broken down and transform into a mass of delicate brown, sweet-tasting molecules.
Products such as caramel sauce and caramel browning are based on caramelisation.
Caramel browning is a food colorant that is usually manufactured by heating up alkaline sugar solutions to create caramelisation. It is used in soft drinks, beer, confectionery products, soups and sauces.
Sugar ensures that jams and marmalades retain their colour by preventing the fruit from taking on water.