What Does Granulated Sugar Mean?

Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images

Even though it's sweet and makes many types of food and drink taste better, sugar is available in several different forms or consistencies after processing. Supermarkets sell sugary syrup in liquid form, baking sugar in powdered form or granulated sugar as crystals, in both white and brown varieties. While you may not know the definition of granulated sugar, it's likely one of the more common ingredients in your pantry.

What It Means

Granulated white sugar consists of 99.9 percent pure sucrose that has been refined into small crystals. The most common form of sugar, it is sold in virtually every grocery store and in many convenience stores. The granulated sugar or white sugar you find in the stores has been refined from either sugar cane or sugar beet at the beginning of the sugar-making process. You can find granulated white sugar in fine, medium or coarse crystals, and the difference is that the crystals are more distinct the coarser it gets. Granulated brown sugar, however, is a drier type of the brown sugar commonly used in baking; only this kind is used as a topping or in coffee or drinks. It's made from boiled sugar and molasses and has gone through a special process.

Common Uses

Granulated white sugar is used in many everyday products at home and is sold commercially. It's a common sweetener for tea or coffee, used in cakes, cookies, breads and candy, and an ingredient in scores of commercial baked goods, candies, sauces and beverages. In baked goods, it helps the item maintain a soft texture during the leavening process. Sugar can also help add a crisp, caramelized crust to brownies or cakes.

Sweet Substitutions

If you don't have granulated white sugar, you can sometimes substitute another sweetener without negative effects, but not always. Ingredients like honey, agave nectar, brown sugar or evaporated cane sugar will add sweetness to your tea or dessert, but you may have to modify a recipe to get the same effect, especially if you are baking. Since the granulated sugar helps with the texture and formation of certain baked goods, it may be your only option.

Selection and Storage

When you select white granulated sugar, choose a brand name you like, because all the brands taste alike. Choose a name that you trust and packaging without holes or tears. Granulated sugar will last forever if you keep it covered in a cool dark place.