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Sugar cane is a plant that grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. It is a perennial grass, which means that once it is planted, it will grow for a number of years, even after being harvested. The scientific name for sugar cane is saccharum. Pure sugar cane is processed into sugar, such as the common table sugar kept in most households. It is also a main ingredient for molasses, ethanol, and rum.
Sugar cane is grown in tropical areas, where warm weather and rain allow this plant to thrive. Countries that grow and sell pure sugar can include, but are not limited to, Australia, Cuba, the Philippines, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, Brazil, India, the Caribbean, Fiji, many countries in Asia, and the U.S. states of Texas, Florida, and Hawaii. The largest producers are Brazil and India, where the yearly harvest provides a major source of economic means for growers and harvesters.
The processing of sugar cane is often considered to be a very environmentally friendly one, because all parts of the plant serve a purpose. Byproducts obtained during the processing of sugar cane can be used as fuel for sugar mills, and even used in the production of paper.
Pure sugar cane contains sucrose, and it is from sucrose that processors produce sugar. In the most basic terms, sugar is produced from dehydrating the cane stalk, also known as a ratoon. Processing takes place at a sugar cane mill, and it is at the mill where the raw sugar loses its natural yellow or sometimes brown color, and it is turned in to white sugar.
Sugar that is derived from sugar cane is often considered the better choice for consumption, as opposed to beet sugar, which is a plant that is grown underground in cooler climates. Sugar cane is the only source of naturally brown sugar. Cane sugar is often the first choice of cooks and bakers, as it tends to melt better, caramelize easier, and taste better.
In areas where sugar cane is grown, it is often consumed raw. Fresh cut cane is a common treat is such locations as Hawaii and Cuba. In this form, the cane is chewed on for a while, and then disposed of when the sweet taste diminishes.
A popular drink in many areas that grow sugar cane uses the juice as sweetener. Generally, the drink is made from lemon juice, fresh sugar cane juice, and ice. This drink is referred to by many different names depending on the location where it is made, but the most common name is garapa.
Sugar cane is a diverse plant, and its byproducts can be found in foods and even products around the globe. It is a sweet treat, and a sweet crop for harvesters, as the demand for sugar is a never-ending one.