What is Sugar Cane Syrup?

Malcolm Tatum

Sugar cane syrup is a thick syrup that is created by evaporating the juice extracted from sections of sugar cane. The preparation of this type of syrup usually involves boiling the juice for several hours, and making sure to skim the surface of the juice throughout the process. When prepared properly, this approach yields a thick syrup that is extremely sweet, making it ideal for use in both home cooking and the preparation of commercial foods.

Skimming the surface is important when boiling the sugar cane syrup.
Skimming the surface is important when boiling the sugar cane syrup.

Many different types of syrup are created using a boiling process. What is different with sugar cane syrup is the duration of the boiling and the need to constantly skim the surface as the juice boils. This is because all the impurities in the juice will bubble to the surface as the boiling takes place. Skimming the impurities off the top will yield a product with a smoother texture and enhance the taste.

Stalks of sugar cane.
Stalks of sugar cane.

As the cane juice boils, there are a few additives that can help enhance the taste of the prepared syrup. A small amount of baking soda will help expedite the rising of impurities to the top, making it easier to remove. At the same time, the addition of a small amount of lemon juice helps to minimize any salty taste that might remain in the finished product. Adding the lemon juice is especially important when using sugar cane that is grown with the use of ammonia nitrate, since the salty flavor is likely to be higher than with sugar cane cultivated using other elements.

Sugar cane syrup is used in the preparation of commercial chocolate.
Sugar cane syrup is used in the preparation of commercial chocolate.

As the sugar cane syrup begins to thicken, it will also darken in color. Assuming that the skimming was done properly, the liquid will also have a clear quality. As the thickening begins to take place, the amount of heat can be reduced gradually, allowing the mixture to continue to cool and thicken to the desired texture.

Once prepared, commercially produced syrup is infused with preservatives and packaged for sale. It can be used in cooking as well as in the creation of flavored syrups to pour over ice cream and other dessert options. Sugar cane syrup is also used in the commercial preparation of chocolate candies and other sweets. It is often the base ingredient for the creation of a wide range of flavored syrups that are served with pancakes or to coat link sausages for a slight taste of sweetness.

Along with commercial products, it is also possible to prepare small batches of the syrup at home. Generally, it will keep well in a glass container and can be stored in the refrigerator in between uses.

Sugar cane growns in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world.
Sugar cane growns in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world.

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Discussion Comments


After making my own maple syrup and reading about HFCS, I am going to try the brown sugar boil-down as a project. What a neat idea as I have to wait until very late winter for the maples to start their sap to running. This way, the material is a half mile away and it is year around. Thanks.


To my my opinion and taste, maple syrup is the best, but it is expensive. A good substitute.

Take a bag of brown sugar and quart of water and boil for one hour. It takes at least 15 or so minutes to get it boiling but once it does boil on medium low heat but keep it med simmer. When you're done you'll have some good syrup. I hate corn syrup which is what you get when you buy any syrup in the grocery store, except for maple.

I don't know why you can't buy sugar cane syrup. But I suspect it is because of the powerful corn, sugar beet and maple syrup lobbies.


Can you make sugar cane syrup out of the sugar cane juice you get at the grocery store, or do you need to get some kind of special sugar cane juice to do it?

I'd love to try making my own sugar syrup, because I really try to avoid any commercial fructose-based sugar syrups, but I'm kind of at a loss as to how to start. Can you clue me in?


How does cane sugar compare to high fructose corn syrup in terms of calories? I know that all sugar syrup has calories out the wazoo, and is not all the good for you, but is cane sugar syrup any better than fructose or glucose sugar syrup?

I'm really trying to figure out the difference between high fructose corn syrup vs cane sugar in terms of calories and the effect on health, especially after hearing all those horror stories about corn syrup lately. Thanks for the info!


One thing you never think about when making sugar cane syrup is the smell. I was lucky enough to see some of my grandmother's friends making sugar cane syrup out of sugar cane juice they had pressed themselves -- it was a crafts day at their town center, and people were showing how they used to make things like that for themselves.

The smell itself was so interesting, because it was heavenly, on the one hand -- I mean, warm sugar, what do you expect? -- but on the other hand it was kind of unpleasant, because it also smelled slightly like burnt sugar.

While that smell is not too bad if you're just burning something in your kitchen, it is pretty overwhelming when its coming from ten gallons of organic sugar cane juice!

Of course the end result is totally worth it; in the cane sugar vs corn syrup debate, I would say that cane sugar wins hands down.

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