Sugar, from an exotic spice to an everyday ingredient


Sugar was one of the most coveted spices in the Middle Ages. It was a product that only the most privileged people could acquire.

It was one of the species that drove scientific discoveries that made navigation safer and geographical discoveries to find better routes. Not all sugars were considered to be of the same quality, and as production increased, so did demand.

In the Middle Ages, honey and sugar were the big players. Honey was much more accessible, and sugar was very important in the gastronomy of the time. There was even a recipe that was called “the blancmange”, and you could imagine which ingredient made this dish a delight for the palate…

From the 16th century onwards, the amount of sugar consumption multiplied by 18, since the price was accessible to the population in general, and its gastronomic use also changed: it began to be used in desserts and to drink tea.

What was an exotic species in the Middle Ages, used with care so that it would not run out, eventually achieved favoritism among sweeteners; a primacy that is still seen today.

Five centuries later, sugar is still being produced. After World War II, the sugar industry boomed, and since 2011, global production has increased by 26%.

In short, sugar consumption has changed and intensified over the last few centuries.

In the Middle Ages it was considered luxury, today it is represented in 80% of foods and is present in desserts, soft drinks , and even bread, thanks to all its properties, which go beyond sweetening food.

Source: Esto es Azúcar (with information from National Geographic).

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