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I see two types of sugar in the baking aisle that I can't differentiate: "granulated sugar" and "granulated cane sugar". The latter is considerably more expensive. So, what is the difference between granulated cane sugar and this (unspecified) granulated sugar, and why would I want to choose one over the other?

As I understand it, cane sugar is extracted exclusively from sugar cane, while the other kind (the one that is not labeled as cane) can be a mixture of sucrose from several sources. Is this difference enough to make one a better candidate when cooking? baking? sweetening tea/coffee?

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Are you in the US? Most sugar in the US is cane sugar... if you're in Europe, it might be more likely to find beet sugar. – Catija Feb 13 at 1:18
This question refers to the sugar in the US – Austin D Feb 13 at 1:18
It makes a bigger difference if something made in the US is labelled as being sweetened with cane sugar, because the alternative isn't usually beet sugar it's high fructose corn syrup. That's pretty much a US only thing though, since most of the rest of the world doesn't have corn subsidies pushing down the price of HFCS and sugar quotas pushing up the price of refined sugar (cane or beet). – Ross Ridge Feb 13 at 4:49
up vote 11 down vote accepted

There is no real difference between types of granulated, white sugar. The options you are likely to see are cane sugar and beet sugar. Granulated sugar from sugarcane is often considered "superior" to beet sugar by Americans, but the idea that cane sugar is in any way superior to beet sugar has no basis. Granulated beet sugar and granulated cane sugar are completely interchangeable and indistinguishable. Swapping them will cause no issue.

By the way - this is sugarcane:

enter image description here

These are sugar beets:

enter image description here

I'd post a picture of the granulated sugar made from each, but it seems kind of pointless as they look the same.

enter image description here

On this question (almost an exact duplicate), some posters see a small difference. I never have. The difference between beet sugar and cane sugar

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So, if it's not labeled "cane sugar", then it's beat sugar? – Austin D Feb 13 at 2:10
In the US or Europe, most likely, yes. For whatever reason, Americans seem to trust sugar more if it comes from cane, perhaps because we grow it. – Jolenealaska Feb 13 at 2:16
Saying that, "the idea that cane sugar is in any way superior to beet sugar has no basis," is an overly strong and unnecessarily dismissive statement that could be better worded to take back into account the opening statement in regards to white sugar. There are many non-white varieties (see wikipedia) with different cooking characteristics, not to mention flavor levels. – user45957 May 24 at 1:25
@user45957 I'm pretty sure the OP was about white sugar, though, so this all seems fair. ("granulated sugar" refers to white sugar by default; you'd explicitly say "brown" if you meant it) – Jefromi May 24 at 5:14

In some regions, processing methods for commonly marketed sugar types are known to use or not use refining techniques using animal-derived ingredients. Some vegetarians will prefer the types not using such technique, or even avoid those that do.

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