It’s Friday, so its time for another food fight! Every Friday we look at an ingredient, a decision or a process within the real foods sphere. It might be as simple as why you should choose sea salt over iodized salt. It might be more complex, such as what soaking is, how to soak and why you’d want to do it. Grass-fed vs grain-fed. Pastured vs cage-free eggs. What if I can’t afford the best, what’s the next best alternative? All of those decisions that are out in the real food world that are enough to make your head swirl. We’ll take it one bite at a time. Information is always easier to digest when it’s in small pieces.
We’ll start with the easier and move to the complex. As always, we will do so in a good, better, best format, with an eye on the budget. Some weeks, it will be a blog post, other weeks a video.
I’ve been getting more and more questions about real food basics and one of the questions I’m having asked regularly is what the difference is between rapadura and sucanat.
The confusion is because Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon calls for Rapadura anywhere a solid sweetener is used. My understanding is that when the book was written, Rapadura was the only unprocessed sugar easily available. But with the explosion of real food products, other companies now produce a product using the same process.
The issue of rapadura versus sucanat comes down to one thing- Rapadura is a trademarked product name from a company called Rapunzel. Click here to see the product. Sucanat is a generic name. Click here to see a bag of sucanat. But the two products are the same. The confusion comes in because some companies label their processed sugars as sucanat, too.
If you look at the above links, you can see that Wholesome Sweetener’s Sucanat is less expensive than the Rapunzel Rapadura. Personally, I choose to purchase the Wholesome Sweetener’s Sucanat because it isn’t contaminated with wheat and the price is lower. One big difference is that the Wholesome Sweetener’s Sucanat can also be purchased in bulk bags, giving an even better savings. If you can access a bulk-buying co-op such as Azure or UNFI, you can purchase it in 25 or 50-pound bags. Even if you don’t have access to a co-op, many health food stores will give a discount off of their bulk bin prices if you purchase the entire bag at one time. My local health food store will give an additional 10% discount off of their bulk bin prices if I take the whole bag.
How is it produced? In a nutshell, the sugar cane is pressed, then the resulting liquid is dried without any removal of the molasses or mineral content. It’s just dried cane juice. It’s uniform in color, a medium brown, and is granular. No perfect, little cubes. Rapadura/sucanat’s granular texture ranges from fine powder to little, tiny balls.
How can you tell if a solid sweetener has been processed? How do you know if a Sucanat is good or not? The color and the shape will tell you. If the product is lighter than rapadura in color OR the individual little pieces are in cubes instead of granular, it’s a processed product. Avoid any sweeteners that are perfect little cubes- you know they’ve been processed. Lighter colors tell you that some of the molasses, and therefore the trace minerals, have been removed. Either way, if it has been processed, it’s a product you don’t want to consume.