Sugar, a sweet concrete juice, ned front the Sugar-cane, or Saccharum officinarum, L. a species of reed or cane, which grows in the East and West Indies. According to modern chemists, however, it is a true essential salt, pable of crystallization; and which is contained, in a greater or proportion, in all vegetables of a sweet taste, but most abundantly in the plant above mentioned.
The culture of sugar-cane being Impracticable in Britain, we shall only observe, that it grows to the height of from 3 1/2 to 7, and sometimes to 12 feet, in strong deep lands. When ripe, it assumes a fine straw-colour; and is usually cut at the age of 12 or 15 months, according to the season, or the nature of the soil.
The canes are divided into pieces about a yard in length ; tied up in bundles ; and conveyed to a mill; where they are expressed between three upright wooden rollers co-d with iron. The saccharine juice is conducted into a receiver ; being apt speedily to ferment, it becomes necessary to separate the sugar as soon as possible. This object is effected by clarifying it in a boiler, over a fire, with a small portion of pulverized quick-lime ; after which it is evaporated in a cauldron, till it acquires a due degree of consistence ; when it is poured into coolers. As the inspissated fluid becomes cool, the sugar spontaneously shoots into irregular crystals, separated from the water. Next, the granulated matter Is conveyed to the curing-house, where the treacle is completely drained ; in which dry state, the former is called raw, or muscovado sugar: thus it is sent to Europe, where it is subsequently refined most perfect purification, or refining of sugar, is performed in the following manner: The raw powder is again boiled in proper kettles, with lime-water, and bullocks blood (that has been previously strained, and deprived of its excrementitious parts) ; when it is boiled down to a proper consistence. It is then laded into vessels to cool, being continually stirred, to prevent it from shooting into large crystals: when perfectly cold, it is poured into unglazed clay moulds, of a conical form, and suffered to coagulate. Farther, with a view to cany off any particles of syrup that may still remain in the refined mass, the lower points of the moulds are open, and covered to the thickness of several inches with clay previously softened in water, and which is occasionally moistened. In this manner, the sugar at length acquires the requisite de-gree of whiteness and fineness; in which state it is denominated loaf or lump sugar; and, after being dried in heated rooms, it is ready for use.
In August, 1784, a patent was granted to RobERt Murray, Esq. for his discovery of a method of refining sugar, and making it from the cane-juice. As, however, his processes are too minute, to admit of being detailed in this work, the reader will consult the 4th volume of the Repertory of Arts, etc.
A patent was also granted in June, 1801, to Thomas Wakefield, Esq. for a new method of refilling sugar. It consists simply in placing the raw, or muscovado sugar, in any porous vessel; when it is to be subjected to a weight, acting by rollers, by a screw, or by a wedge, " with the help of a steam engine, " the action of a mill, or any other means of applying force. Thus, part of the colouring matter, as well as other impurities, will be thrust out; and, from the moisture expressed, sugar, molasses, or rum may be obtained, by the usual processes. The pressure may be repeated, according to circumstances, and the relative purity of the sugar; after which it may be refined by the methods usually practised.
Sugar having become an article of almost indispensable use to every person in civilized life, various attempts have been made, with a view to procure it from other vegetables; and particularly from the following, namely:
1. The White Beet; the saccharine properties of which were discovered upwards of 50 years since, by M. Margraaff; and his process having been improved by M. AchaRd of Berlin, we shall state the method of preparing sugar adopted by the latter. The fresh beet-roots are first washed, and submitted to the action of a mill, which reduces them to a pulp : next, their juice is extracted by means of a press, and boiled over a gentle fire, till it is converted into a thin syrup. It must now be carefully separated from the mucilage, adhering to the bottom of the cauldron, or kettle; then strained, and boiled a second time, till it acquire a proper consistence for crystallization ; a point which can only be ascertained by experience. The syrup is afterwards poured into tin - vessels, from two to three inches deep, that the grain may crystallize : these vessels are directed to be placed on frames, in a , room heated by a stove to a considerable, but uniform temperature; and, in the course of two or three weeks, the sugar will be separated in the form of small crystalline grains. The whole is then poured into linen bags; in which, on compression, the sugar remains, while the strained liquor is received into vessels ; and, after undergoing similar processes, it will yield an additional quantity of saccharine matter. - By this management, 20lbs. of roots produce, upon an average, one pound of sugar ; and, to such perfection has it been carried, that M. Achard is enabled to sell the sugar at 3d. per pound. - As we cannot enter into farther detail respecting the culture, preparation, etc. of the Beet-root, we must refer those readers, who wish for more minute information, to Mr.A.'s "Circumstantial Account;" of which a translation appeared in Mr. Nicholson's Journal for September, 1799.
2. The Sugar-MAPLE, of which we have given an account in vol. iii. p. 164-65. - The juice of this tree is obtained by tapping; and, after being collected in proper vessels, and boiling it in the usual manner, it is converted into sugar, which is little inferior to that manufactured from the sugar-cane: as it is now prepared on a large scale in America, with the greatest success, the culture of that valuable tree deserves to be more generally attended to in Britain. There are various other plants which afford sugar, particularly parsnep-roots, skirrets, carrots, and Indian-corn : the latest experiments that have been made with these vegetables, are those of M, HermbMStaedt, Stardt, whose memoir is translated in Mr. Nicholson's Journal, vol. iii. for October, 1799. With a view to diminish the use of sugar, or at least to afford a substitute tor that article, M. M. MARGRAAFF and Lowitz recommended two different processes for purifying honey, so as to answer the common purposes of a sweetener ; but their expedients being too expensive, Father Giovane Batista pa St. Marine, an ingenious Venetian Monk, has proposed the following method : To three parts (by weight) of honey, eight of water must be added ; together with one part of charcoal, broken to pieces, but not reduced to powder. This mixture should boil for one hour, when it ought to be filtred ; and, after being thus purified, it is to be evaporated oven a slow fire, till it acquire the consistence of a thick syrup, which will be as palatable as sugar. This process is cheap, and easy ; but we question the advantage of converting honey into a saccharine substance ; as the former may, in this country at be purchased at a lower price. ar affords one of the most useful spices; and is at present classed among the principal necessaries of life. If moderately taken, it operates as a gentle solvent, and promotes digestion ; but, when its use exceeds the bounds of modera-tion, especially in pastry or confectionary, it vitiates the stomach ; palls the appetite; and eventually injures the teeth. Persons, there-fore, whose digestive organs are impaired ; whose constitutions are debilitated ; or who arc subject, to hypochondriac or hysteric affections; ought sparingly to partake of this sweetening salt. On the other hand, sugar is an excellent antiseptic, and antiscorbutic : indeed, Dr. Rush maintains, that it is preferable to most kinds of aliment, being compressible into a small compass ; and its nutritious properties are not liable to be affected, unless by keeping it in a moist place. He farther observes, that it is an excellent antidote against worms, and probably also against malignant fevers : for these not occurred so frequently, since sugar has formed a general article of diet. Lastly, in a candied state, it is of service in disorders of the chest, occasioned by the variations of the weather ; as it constitutes the basis of many palatable remedies.
By the 12 CAR. II. c. 18, and 27 Geo. III. c.27 all sugars must be imported either in British ves-. or in such as belong to the subjects of that European country, of which the goods are the produce; but, in both cases, they must be legally navigated, on pain of forfeiture. - Sugar is subject to the following charges, namely : if it be refined, to the sum of 5l. 6s. 4d. per cwt. ; brown, and muscovado sugars pay, if from British plantations, 18s. 2d.; if from othercountries, 1l. 17s. 4d. per cwt. But, in all-cases. it is prohibited to be imported from Germany and the lands.