Making Sugar from Beets

I like the idea of being able to make/grow my own sweeteners.  Honey is an obvious, easy place to turn but I’ve had such a difficult time getting my hives established – hopefully this year!  As it turns out my land, while full of clay, grows great root crops.  This year while thumbing through the seed catalogs I came across Sugar Beets in the Bountiful Gardens catalog and it inspired me to look into the process of getting sugar from beets.  It seems pretty straightforward!  The general directions are as follows:

  1. small sugarScrub your beets to get all dirt and debris off of them.
  2. Slice, dice or shred the beets.
  3. Place into a pot with just enough water to cover the beets.
  4. Heat to a boil then simmer long enough for the beets to become tender and soft, about an hour.
  5. Remove from heat and strain the beet pulp out of the juice using cheesecloth, jelly bag, etc.  Squeeze all the excess out of the pulp.
  6. Return the syrup to the pot.
  7. Simmer until it becomes thick, honey-like syrup, stirring frequently.
  8. Place in a storage container and allow to cool.
  9. As it cools, the sugar will crystallize. Remove crystals and smash into a powder with your fingers so that it looks like table sugar.

It is said that you get about 17% of your beet weight back in sugar.  These non GMO sugar beet seeds are $3/100 seeds and produce 3 lb beets.  So if my calculations and germination are perfect that would produce 51 lbs of sugar for $3! (And the pigs will love the leftover mash too).

This is officially added to this year’s garden experiment list.

Have you made your own sugar?  Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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