The sugar beet is a well-known plant that can be grown for sugar, and while it largely is used in commercial production, it can be grown on your property, too.
It is grown all over the world, including in the United States, Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Turkey. The plant has a high concentration of sucrose, and is relatively easy to turn into sugar in commercial processes.
The reason the sugar beet is so popular is due to the fact that it grows much easier than sugar cane. Sugar cane is highly susceptible to bugs, mold and other diseases. The sugar beet can grow in several different regions across the world and needs little to no work. Cultivation is often easy, but the processing methods can be a bit difficult and time-consuming.
Homesteaders who wish to grow their own sugar often consider sugar cane or sugar beets. If you live in a spot that gets a lot of cold weather, you may not be able to grow sugar cane. The sugar beet is an excellent alternative. It is cold hardy and grows in full or partial shade. You can learn to process it for sugar, and then can store the sugar long-term. When kept in the refrigerator, this sugar can last for up to two years if properly processed.
Processing Sugar Beets
Sugar beets will be ready at harvest time when all the other plants are ready as well. It is harvested by pulling up the root. Once the root and plant is harvested, the tops are cut off and the root remains. This root is then shredded into a fine state. It can be soaked in water to help the sucralose cells open up. Once it is soaked for about an hour, it is then boiled (45 minutes to an hour). The syrupy mixture is then strained through cheesecloth, and the liquid is placed on a shallow pan in an oven for at least 8 to 12 hours. This allows for the crystallization process to begin. (Note: Some homesteaders prefer to save the sugary liquid and use it instead of crystals.)
Once crystallized, the root is now sugar and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two years. If you don’t wish to use or don’t have the time to go through the crystallization process, you can use the syrup as molasses. This can be used for a broad variety of uses. You can also use the water that comes off the beets – the sugar water — in many recipes like cakes and cookies. The pulp left over from this process can be used for animal feed for cows, chickens and goats.
Choosing Sugar Beets
There are many different varieties of sugar beets, and some have a stronger taste than others. Some even produce red sugar Experiment to see which sugar beet works best for your tastes.
Growing sugar beets can seem like a daunting task, and you may be skeptical if the process will work or not. The truth is, it is a trial-and-error procedure. It doesn’t work for everybody, and doesn’t make good sugar each and every time. But you can have quality molasses and can always use the liquid for other things.
Many of the sugars that you buy in stores today are beet sugars. With practice, you can learn to create great sugar that can grow in your location with little to no trouble. Adding sugar beets to your homestead can help you become self-sufficient with sugar – and perhaps even allow you to share your sugar with friends and family.
Have you ever grown sugar beets? Do you have any tips? Share them in the section below: