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The functional properties of sugar

These days, sugar comes in many varieties and can therefore be used in many different food products. Sugar has a range of unique properties that, either individually or in combination, make it an important ingredient in modern food production.

Without sugar, jam would soon go off, ice cream would crystallise, and bread would lose its freshness and dry out. In addition, the taste of foods would be disappointing without the ability of sugar to round off and enhance natural taste components. Learn more about the functional properties of sugar.

  • Sweetness
    Sweetness
    The primary functions of sugar in food products are to provide sweetness and energy.
  • Taste and aroma
    Taste and aroma
    An important property of sugar is that it can enhance tastes and aromas both above and below the sweetness threshold value
  • Volume
    Volume
    Sugar can affect the weight and volume of food. The volume of liquid is only affected slightly by sugar. The volumes of bakery products can be affected in various ways
  • Texture
    Texture
    Texture is an expression of the sensation in the mouth. Sugar affects this by providing volume and consistency in many products such as bread, jam and beverages
  • Shelf life
    Shelf life
    The preservative properties of sugar are exploited in products such as jams, juices and pickling solutions
  • Fermentation
    Fermentation
    The fermentation process has been used for centuries to produce or preserve foods. The fermentation process often involves the use of yeast and some kind of carbohydrate, e.g. sugar, as an energy source
  • Reducing the freezing point
    Reducing the freezing point
    Sugar affects the freezing point of foods. The higher the concentration of sugar, the lower the freezing point. A low freezing point is important in ice cream and frozen desserts
  • Colour
    Colour
    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
  • Moisture retention
    Moisture retention
    Because sugar binds water, reactions that need water are delayed if sugar is present. The shelf life of bread is extended because sugar causes water to be retained for longer in the bread